Malaysia in bid to encourage ‘Aussie’ students to return

Representatives of Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) were in Australia last week to promote Malaysia as a preferred destination for Australian students while launching a new Study in Malaysia mobility programme that highlights the country’s higher education student exchange activities.

Having recently reopened its borders post-COVID, Malaysia is keen to reignite interest among young Australians in studying in the country.

The Malaysian organisation is particularly focused on the Australian government’s ‘New Colombo Plan’, which will allocate AU$22 million (US$16 million) this year to supporting more than 6,000 exchange students across Asia, with 372 of those studying in Malaysia.

The government’s 2023 application round is due to be launched soon and, with Malaysia ranked in the top 10 preferred destinations for exchange programmes by Australian students, the country hopes to capitalise on its newly opened borders and what it believes is its competitive edge in the region.

The New Colombo Plan initiative aims to facilitate study and work-based experiences in the Indo-Pacific, helping these experiences become a rite of passage for young Australian undergraduate students, as well as shaping the region’s future.

In partnership with Education Malaysia Australia, EMGS is encouraging Australians who have studied in Malaysia to share their experiences while, at the same time, working with the 15,000+ Malaysian students studying in Australia to act as “ambassadors for their home country”.

“Given that Malaysia’s borders have reopened to the world and that opportunities for Australian students in the Indo-Pacific region are becoming increasingly diversified, EMGS aims to highlight the many benefits of pursuing studies in Malaysia,” said the organisation’s chief executive, Mohd Radzlan bin Jalaludin.

“Students will return to Australia with new insights and perspectives, a greater understanding of Malaysia and its people, new professional networks, and lasting friendships,” Mohd Radzlan said.

Leveraging the New Colombo Plan

Kartini Tajul Urus, an acting consul with Education Malaysia Australia, said: “Students can experience world-class education in Malaysia with top-ranking institutions offering a degree that is recognised globally. What’s more, Malaysia offers diverse culture, affordable living, a safe environment and a dynamic lifestyle.

“More than 30 Malaysian courses are listed in the top 100 Quacquarelli Symonds or QS World University Rankings by Subject, while Malaysia has 435 private and public higher education institutions across the country, many offering international student exchange programmes,” the consul said.

New scholarship round

Nominations for the 2023 New Colombo Plan scholarship programme open on 22 June this year and close on 19 July 2022. Nominated students are invited to submit an application by 20 July 2022, with applications closing on 16 August 2022.

An official with the Malaysian programme said university staff and eligible undergraduate students interested in the Colombo Plan scholarship scheme should contact their university’s study abroad or international liaison office, or enquire via email:

He noted that, prior to the COVID outbreak, Australians made up more than 20% of Malaysia’s international exchange student intake, and the nation was “keen to have Aussie students returning”.

“It’s worth noting, too, that the Australian government’s 2021 Strategic Partnership between Australia and Malaysia has a specific focus on education,” he added.

“Student exchange programmes were a pre-pandemic rite of passage for Australian students, and Malaysia is hoping to capitalise on its culture and travel opportunities – and the AU$22 million Australian government New Colombo Plan exchange funding programme – to get them back into Malaysia again.”