Asia Pacific Education Review

, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 493–502 | Cite as

Finding the next ‘wave’ in internationalisation of higher education: focus on Malaysia

  • Mohd Ismail Abd Aziz
  • Doria AbdullahEmail author


This article presents a case study of Malaysia’s inroad in internationalising its higher education system for the past three decades and proposes recommendations and the way forward in internationalisation. Internationalisation is one of the critical agenda in Malaysia’s higher education transformation with an end target of becoming an international hub of higher education excellence by 2020. The country is no stranger in internationalisation as efforts in student mobility, academic programmes and international collaboration have started since the 1980s and 1990s. As with other higher education systems globally, it was the private sector that initiated and sustained efforts in internationalisation of Malaysian higher education. With the growth in international student enrolment, the country has established itself as a student hub; however, greater focus and clarity in direction should be set forward in accelerating Malaysia’s progress in internationalisation, with research and development as a potential catalyst. The article also questions Malaysia’s current standing with regard to internationalisation and the need in facilitating higher education institutions to build their capacity in internationalisation, highlighting the important roles of individual institutions at both public and private sector that drive the country’s internationalisation agenda.


Internationalisation Higher education Malaysia PHEI Act 1996 Student hub International student 



This research is supported by the research grants identified by the following codes under the Research Management Centre, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia: 01H56 (Funding source: Research University Grant, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia) and 4B045 (Funding source: Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia). The authors would like to thank representatives from the Ministry of Education, fellow collaborators in research and academic endeavours on internationalisation (both local and international) and representatives from Malaysian public and private HEIs who helped, directly or otherwise, in shaping the content and arguments put forward in the article.


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Copyright information

© Education Research Institute, Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Universiti Teknologi MalaysiaJohor BahruMalaysia
  2. 2.UTM Perdana School of Science, Technology and Innovation PolicyUniversiti Teknologi MalaysiaKuala LumpurMalaysia

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