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Nga, JCL 2009, 'The internationalisation of Malaysian private higher education institutions for increasing higher education exports', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright JCL Nga 2009


This research focused on the internationalisation of Malaysian private higher education institutions for increasing their higher education exports. Largely exploratory, this research used a combination of inductive and deductive approaches.

The emergence of the knowledge economy is creating massive demands for internationally recognised tertiary education qualifications and has made transnational higher education a major and thriving export industry. Higher educational institutions are emphasising on the internationalisation of higher education for increasing international enrolments by conducting offshore programmes through overseas branch campuses, twinning and franchised arrangements.

The Malaysian Government, aiming to increase its exports of higher education, has a target of 100,000 foreign students by 2010. Major educational reforms to make the country a regional educational hub now permit qualified PHEIs to conduct their own degree programmes and invite reputable foreign universities to establish branch campuses. The National Higher Education Strategic Plan encourages PHEIs to improve educational quality, internationalise their curriculum, and upgrade their premises and to become high quality educational providers.

Growing international student mobility is driving the internationalisation of the Malaysian PHEIs by increasing domestic and offshore student enrolments and establishing branch campuses abroad. Malaysia is currently the 11th largest exporter of higher education.

Although Malaysian higher education exports are a major source of foreign exchange earnings, there was limited prior research on the effectiveness of Government policies to support the internationalisation efforts of the PHEIs. The literature was also silent on the desired strategies for PHEIs to achieve sustainable competitive advantage in the international higher education market. These factors justified the need for this research.

The research tested three propositions developed from a comprehensive literature review. Primary data was collected from an Experience Survey, a Focus Group meeting and a Questionnaire Survey and the analysed data resulted in several findings. These revealed that the PHEIs are committed to internationalisation. However, they face several challenges including the rivalry posed by Singapore and Vietnam which also emphasise on increasing higher education exports.

The research findings generated several recommendations for consideration by the educational authorities and the PHEIs. In line with the research objectives, the findings extended the body of knowledge on the research topic. They also contributed to new theory development as reflected by a modified framework for international ising higher education. Finally, the research offered recommendations for follow up research togeneralise the findings.