Rated as the 12th most preferred study destination by UNESCO Institute for Statistics in July 2014, Malaysia is increasingly attracting international students seeking for an excellent overseas experience. With world-class education being administered via an extensive series of interactive platforms, Malaysia is rapidly developing in the academic world.
Somewhere in 2008, after completing my Advance Diploma from Informatics Institute Kazaure, I found out that I was not going to be accepted by any Nigerian University as my Singapore-based Diploma was not accredited.
Hence, in my quest to obtain a university Degree, I had to look beyond my country. My searchlight beamed towards Europe, the Middle-East, and Asia.
Interestingly, the first response and offer I got came from Malaysia – a country I barely knew prior to 2006 – when I watched a movie titled “Sleeping Dictionary.”
Malaysia is a country speculated by some Nigerians as a place where parents send their children to study but in the process get involved in a lot of social vices such as partying, advanced fee fraud, misuse of students visas and a lot of other uncharitable acts. I was made to believe that, the country has nothing to offer and there was nothing to write home about.
Many tried to discourage my parents from sending me to Malaysia, but they failed to deter us. I remembered what my dad told me before I left, he said: “Son, go to Malaysia and make us proud.”
SHOCK ON ARRIVAL
On 4th February 2009, exactly 8 years today, I flew to Malaysia. Upon arrival the next day, I was very curious to see another Nigeria in Malaysia as I was falsely made to believe. To my astonishment, what greeted me was a warm “Selamat Datang“, —Welcome in Malay — the exact opposite of all I had been told.
At the airport, the immigration officers were very friendly and keen on attending to visitors. As a multicultural country just like Nigeria, I was surprised to see amazing cohesion amongst the officers as they efficiently assist each other to carry out their duties. They were such a people that are warm at reception.
And the infrastructure that greeted me was mind-blowing! I couldn’t fathom the reason a lot of people had spread so much rumours on a place as developing at a fast pace as this. I then concluded that those people might either be ignorant or might have been dwelling on the situation the country was in donkey’s years.
The way I was treated by those officers gave me an impression of how kind-hearted a good number of the populace would be. Very applausive also was that from my arrival at the airport to my arrival at my destination by road, there was not a single MAJOR patch or potholes on the road and all streetlights were fully functional. First impression, they say, lasts forever.
MALAYSIAN UNIVERSITIES, INFRASTRUCTURE, AND RANKING
Another impressive thing I discovered in the university I studied (and many others) for my degree program was the readiness of lecturers to put students through and their tolerance for follow up. The amount of equipment and facilities possessed by most of the Malaysian universities are up to date and very sophisticated.
The government spends a good percentage of its budget on good health, security, infrastructure and also on quality education; which people from all over the world are tapping from.
This is not surprising considering that fact that the Malaysian government budgeted 6.12 billion ringgit (812 billion naira using the current exchange rate) for its public universities. This amount is 1.7 billion Ringgit lower than previous year’s allocation. Before you ask, in terms of population, Malaysia has just 30 million citizens as compared to Nigeria’s 183 million. Despite Nigeria being bigger in terms of population, Malaysia has 20 public universities compared to Nigeria’s 84 public universities.
Looking at the Malaysian budget for its universities, I then told a Malay colleague to be thankful as I constantly heard them complain about their government. I cited this as a metaphor, making her understand that their 2017 budget for universities, which was cut by 1.92 billion ringgit was still higher than my country’s entire Education Ministry’s budget of 2016 which was 369 billion naira — 3.1 billion ringgit.
But, of course, she still wanted her government to do more. I jokingly asked her to swap government and that was where the conversation ended.
But I then discovered the gap and margin at which our universities back at home occupy when I put all these distinguishing features into play, with a hope that when we come back to impart the knowledge of our upcoming generations, the government will be ready to stand by us as to provide our institutions with the needed facilities, funds, equipment, and infrastructure. And with this, I can envision a full-blown and blossoming economy for Nigeria.
Though the universities in Nigeria are standard to an extent, what I will say they are lacking all these years are equipment and adequate learning materials and as well as the rightful use of human resources in the course of bridging an edge in the arm of Higher Institution of learning in the country.
Malaysia is one of the most peaceful and safest countries in Asia with moderate low crime rates. Also known as mini Asia, the country boast of exceptional infrastructures, thereby providing good experiences with an affordable and economical cost of leaving. Going by the ranking of Asian universities, universities in Malaysia fall between 200-250 on a 500-count rating. While in the world ranking, a handful of Malaysian universities made it to the top 800.
NIGERIAN STUDENTS IN MALAYSIA: EVIDENCE OF GOOD REPRESENTATION
Many Nigerians are doing great in their various engagements. I do strongly believe that Nigerians are recording exceptional progress in various universities across Malaysia. I have had a lot of excellent testimonies from my students who came from over 51 countries. I must also express how happy I am to be endorsed by the Nigerian former Higher Commissioner for consideration amongst many good things that happened to me while in Malaysia.
Without a shadow of doubts, I would rightly say, Nigerians that are academic products from Malaysia know their onions; they are well-groomed in their areas of expertise. Over 70 PhD students graduated from several Malaysian universities last year, including a posthumous degree.
I also strongly believe that a lot of us are good ambassadors of Nigeria in Malaysia with the exception of few who engage in some criminal activities.
Malaysia is a country I will recommend for anyone who is interested in getting first or further degrees.
Dr. Tijjani wrote from Cyberjaya Malaysia, he can be reached via www.dahatijjani.com/contact-me