Last Friday, together with my son, I went to visit the four-day Gulf Education and Training Exhibition (GETEX) in Dubai, a leading education forum, which ended on Saturday. It was reported that over 29,000 visitors attended GETEX this year.
The forum, which was held at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, hosted over 500 higher education providers, the majority from the UK and England.
Malaysia's Ministry of Higher Education or Malaysian Education Promotion Centre had a booth. But the way you can check the both web sites and can judge how serious the ministry or MEPC in promoting Malaysia universities.
I have my own experience in dealing with our universities. Several friends in Dubai were interested to send their children to Malaysia for tertiary education in certain courses.
Being a good 'ambassador' of Malaysia to UAE, I contacted the relevant universities through their web sites. I had sent numerous emails for inquiries. There were either bounced (the email addresses not valid or full boxes were full) or no replies. Even, I sent to the VC offices but it turned out to be the same.
I have never received any official replies from all the inquiries submitted so far. A clean record till now.
Recently, I forwarded some inquiries to local MEPC office in Dubai and one of these friends gave up, frustrated and intimidated as he complained that the service was POOR.
Another one asked me, "Are you guys serious?" He had been following up but there was no end of waiting. All of them, not only those referred by me but by others as well, complained about the service. So far I have not received good feedbacks, it could be my friends were expecting higher level of services or my friends were not good enough to be our 'client'.
One particular incident, the official there referred the inquiries to another company in Dubai which demanded some money as charges. And through a friend in the particular university, one of them managed to enrol without going through hassles.
It seems that we are wasting our money by having overseas offices. The official may have his or her own agendas. He or she may be not good enough to be our representative. For the sake of the nation's pride, we demand better services or close these offices.
This year GETEX, our booth was insignificant in the sea of other countries participants. The brochures and goodies were also outdated. I am not sure on the responses from the other visitors as I had only spent few minutes.
I had a chat with one young guy from MPEC who has just recently been transferred to Dubai and he was approachable. I conversed in Bahasa Melayu but he replied in English. While others there seemed indifferent, it could be I was wearing BERSIH t-shirt.
Our education system is in the mess. No university listed in top 100 and thousands of local graduates are still unemployed. What is our selling point? Cheap and affordable?
Irrespective of the attendance, please upgrade your web site, MEPC.
A lot of excellent sites like
and various for UK, Canada and USA. An arabic version could be a good strategy but then again, even the English one needs to be revamped with better outlook and comprehensive information.
Interestingly, North Cyprus has an informative site for promoting its universities.
By the way, I was there to inquire for universities in UK, USA and Canada for my sons future paths. Decision has been made according to my sons' career interests. Eldest in aviation and second is following his mum's step to become another medical doctor in the family, while the youngest is still toying with ideas on becoming a Manchester United player.
It is by accidental not by choice that Malaysia universities are not in our list since long time ago.