(We have no problem with foreign students but can we take a closer look on what they are coming here for studies? Image source: http://www.immspec.com)
I was flying back to Malaysia couple days ago…
When I got into the plane for the long journey ahead, I noted that the flight was almost full. I made my way towards the middle of the plane, only to find an African (aged mid 20s) seating on my seat. I pointed my boarding pass to him but he looked reluctant to move. Noticing the empty seat next to him (which was my preferred seat but I arrived too late to reserve it), I asked about the seat and upon confirming that it was his seat (and nothing spilled on it), I gladly took over his seat and allowed him to remain on my seat.
The flight was pleasant except for occasional turbulence. Almost reaching the Straits of Malacca, I noticed my African neighbor took out his passport and other documents to fill up the Malaysian Immigration form. I immediately noticed that the neighbor was from Nigeria and he was flying to Malaysia for studies.
My neighbor took out two documents – a supporting letter from a local college (I tried to check but I could not get the details of this college – it is not one of the more famous private colleges) and another, an official looking document from the Malaysian Government which makes reference to the letter from the local college (perhaps to facilitate the visa application).
But what I saw next left me shocked – the type of studies he is going to take up in Malaysia – Foundation in English!!
What the…! You mean to say that some English speaking African flew thousands of miles, changed plane after several hours in transit, and flew another thousands of miles, all the way to Malaysia just to get a Certificate in Foundation in English? Isn’t that sounds strange? Isn’t the official language in Nigeria is…err…English? I am pretty sure that the foundation in English would be laid when Nigerians are still in their primary schools. Or am I missing something here? Perhaps someone can enlighten me on this.
So why Malaysia when he can just hop over to Ghana and get the same foundation in English for much lower price and nearer to home? And the fact that the Ghanaians (or Africans in general) speak better English than ordinary Malaysians makes it an even viable choice for students wanting to get foundation in English. Why not the UK – the source of the language? If they have come over to Malaysia to learn some advance mechanical engineering or space age technology, I would have understood. If they have come over to Malaysia to learn on political studies (plenty of examples here) or the usual business studies, I would have understood. If they have come over to Malaysia to learn advance English, I would have understood that too. But they are not – it was nothing but a foundation in English, so why they are here? Malaysia is already having plenty of problems with the language in the education system.
Perhaps the “quality” of English is better here or perhaps the learning environment is more conducive here. Perhaps I should give the benefit of the doubt. But what is the guarantee that these students do not come in to Malaysia and then disappear to do something more sinister? Will we be making the relevant checking on whether these students do nothing but study on the subject that was submitted for visa application and go back as scheduled?
I wonder whether the immigration department smelled something fishy when they saw the subject that this Nigerian wants to take up. It is like me flying all the way to the US to study Bahasa Malaysia – it does not make sense. I am pretty sure the US immigration would have sounded the alarm and vetted me in and out. No doubt we want to turn Malaysia as a center of learning for foreign students but there must be some rules.
If we start to take in any Tom, Dick and Harry, we may end up screwing the education system in Malaysia even more.