Higher Education in Malaysia
Higher education is a key component of Malaysia’s Vision 2020, which aims to see Malaysia achieve developed nation status by the year 2020. Education has been identified as one of Malaysia’s 12 NKEAs under the country’s Economic Transformation Programme. Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education has initiated plans to transform the higher education system, with the aim to establish Malaysia as an international hub for higher education. The government has followed through on these plans with steadily increasing budgetary allotments.
We can see that the budget for higher education has been increasing every year. The Government understands the importance of higher education and the government has accepted the fact that higher education is one of the critical success factors in transforming the country.
Major developments have taken place in Malaysia’s tertiary education sector. Both the public and private sectors have contributed to building a solid foundation for Malaysia to continue to progress towards its education goals. Currently, about 46% of students pursuing tertiary education in Malaysia are enrolled in private higher education institutions. Future growth in the sector will come almost entirely from the private sector.
One thing that has contributed towards the proliferation is our policy of not expanding any more public higher education institutions.
Medical Education in Malaysia
Medical education is one of the more promising areas for growth as Malaysia and the surrounding region face a human capital shortage in the healthcare sector. Currently, there is a shortage of 1.2 million healthcare professionals in South East Asia, and this under-supply is projected to increase to 1.8 million by 2020. In Malaysia, there was an under-supply of 86,000 healthcare practitioners in 2010, with projections showing the shortfall rising to 95,000 by 2020. The shortage is most profound in rural areas.
In the urban areas, we have enough doctors. The ratio in Kuala Lumpur might be 1 doctor for every 400 of our population, but in some of the rural, more distant places, it might even be 1 doctor for 3,000 of population. This is something that the government is trying to bridge and we are trying to achieve, by the year 2020, a ratio of 1 doctor for every 600 population across the country. We are getting closer to that.
Looking at the current numbers of medical schools in the country and the number of Malaysian students studying medicine abroad, I believe in the next five years we will have a doctor/person ratio similar to other developed countries.
We will have about one doctor for every 500-600 population, which is a good ratio. The other issue here in Malaysia is the number of specialists is still not enough. In order to have more specialists you must have more doctors.
The government has prioritized the development of medical education as part of the Education NKEA. The education NKEA consists of 14 Entry Point Projects, or EPPs. Education EPP 8, building a health sciences education discipline cluster, is the second most significant of the Education EPPs in terms of expected contribution to GNI by 2020. EPP 8 is expected to contribute nearly 2.9 billion ringgit to Malaysia’s GNI and create almost 12,000 jobs by 2020. Anchor institutions from the education sector and the allied health industry will collaborate to address the shortage of all levels of healthcare professionals in Malaysia, and throughout South East Asia.
The private sector plays a very big role in producing doctors for Malaysia. Previously, only the government universities were producing doctors, but now, with a large number of private universities and colleges offering medical degrees, I think we will be able to meet the demand for the number of doctors in the country.
The results achieved to date in key performance indicators are promising. In 2011, the total number of medical and allied health students enrolled in Malaysian institutions was 108,000, 171% above the original EPP 8 target for 2011. International students are a significant proportion of that figure and will be the main driver for growth in the years to come.
The foreign students who are coming in have confidence in the quality of education in the country. There are more than 100,000 foreign students studying at our universities and colleges, but our target is about 200,000 students by 2020. The Malaysian government is very supportive of this. Universities have been given funding to promote education globally. Malaysia is the eleventh ranked country in the world for global education in terms of attracting international students. It is quite good for Malaysia.
I think the Ministry of Higher Education of Malaysia has done a lot to promote Malaysia as a higher education hub. We’ve actually done a lot of activities abroad to promote this, not only medical education, its more broad that that and medical education is only part of it.
What we are doing now, what the Ministry of Higher Education is doing now, is on the right track. What the Malaysian government is doing now is on the right track in promoting this. As medical education institutions, we will go along with the rest of the programs available in Malaysian universities currently.