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Published by Afterschool.my on Dec 13, 2018, 11:06 am
In 2017, Malaysia had more than 28,000 Bangladeshi students studying in various universities across the country. That means that one in four international students studying in Malaysia is from Bangladesh! If you’re in college or university, we’re sure that you’ve seen at least one or two Bengalis walking around in campus. You might even be Bangladeshi yourself, with your own community of fellow Bangladeshis on campus too.
With Bangladeshi students holding the biggest percentage of international students in the country, you’ve got to wonder why they’d want to come to Malaysia (because it can’t be the traffic, right?). Well, here are a couple of reasons why some Bangladeshi students are deciding to study in Malaysia.
Image via Google Maps
A flight from Kuala Lumpur to Dhaka, the capital city of Bangladesh, is about four hours- pretty close by compared to other student cities. This puts many Bengali parents at ease knowing that their kids are nearby and can come home if they really need to. The time difference isn’t major either- Bangladesh is a mere two hours behind to Malaysia.
“Once, one of my family members were sick,” said Abdul Bashir, who’s currently doing his PhD in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) and is the president of Bangladeshi Student Union Malaysia (BSUM). “They wanted me to come home and told me that at 8.00 am on that day. I bought tickets at 9.00 am, and by 12.00 pm I was on a flight home to Dhaka.”
20-year-old Sumaita Ahmed shares the same sentiments. “Girls from my country usually don’t go abroad, but I wanted to prove myself, you know? So I decided to go abroad -but didn’t want to go too far- so I was between Singapore and Malaysia. In the end, I got a scholarship from Monash, so I decided on Malaysia.”
Flight tickets between the two countries won’t burn a hole in your pocket either. A quick search on Skyscanner revealed that flight tickets could be bought for as low as RM567 one way (11.3k BDT) on airlines like AirAsia and Malindo. Speaking of money…
According to the QS Best Student Cities rankings, Kuala Lumpur ranks number two in the world for affordability. Education Malaysia Global Service (EMGS), a company owned by the Ministry of Education which assists international students, mentions that an international student would need around RM1.8k (37.1k BDT), but that fully depends on how much (or how little) you’re willing to save.
Sumaita told us about how studying in Malaysia makes things a lot easier for her family, especially her dad. “Without rental, I usually spend about RM900-RM1200 (18-24k BDT). RM1200 is the limit that my dad gives me, but sometimes I go a bit over, so I make it up by spending less the following month.”
Sumaita, wearing a traditional Bangladeshi outfit, called a Shalwar Kameez
Accounting and Finance student Shira* shares the same sentiments. “Alhamdulillah my family can afford to support me in Malaysia, but the exchange rate here is quite affordable. In the future, I would want to send my children to Malaysia to study too because it’s close and cheap.”
With so many different races in Malaysia, it’s not secret that we all get along pretty well. War is non-existent, and foreigners aren’t seen as strangers, what with 9% of the population being people from other countries. In Malaysia, people are treated fairly and with respect- something which us Malaysians might take for granted.
One person who doesn’t take it for granted is Shira. “I feel so safe in this country! As a girl, I don’t feel safe in my own country at all. My parents have to send me everywhere. But in Malaysia, I can have all the freedom I want,” said the 22-year-old.
The safety that Malaysia has to offer was also a key reason why Sumaita came to study here. “I’ve always wanted to be independent, but I was always stuck to my parents. The culture in Bangladesh is that you just don’t travel alone because it’s not safe. But I wanted to see the world, so I came to Malaysia.”
Both Sumaita and Shira emphasised how they felt safe as single women; however Bashir, being the head of BSUM, has had to take care of many Bangladeshi students here, proving further that Malaysia has what it takes to protect the Bangladeshi students that are here. “When students are sick or face visa problems, I’ll go and help them.”
Bashir, who has been the head of BSUM for a year now
Dhaka University is the oldest and most prestigious university in Bangladesh, being ranked by the QS in #701-750 globally- and, according to the people we’ve spoken to, is THE university to get into. However, many prospective students sit for the admission test each year, and not all are able to get in. Hence, this pushes many of these students to consider studying abroad instead to get a quality education.
“Only very few people can get into Dhaka University,” said Bashir, who considered an education in Denmark before eventually deciding to come here. “I didn’t want to study in other universities because if there are political problems, the university could close down and nobody would get their certificate. Here, there is no such problem.”
The prestigious Dhaka University - Image via Daily Sun
Malaysian universities also offer a wide range of subjects- even things that you may not have heard about, like econometrics, which is what Sumaita is studying. “I wanted to study econometrics, but it wasn’t offered anywhere in Bangladesh, and it was offered in Malaysia. I like studying here and I don’t think I’d want to do a transfer programme because I’m so used to it here.”
Besides these four points, there are many more reasons that Bangladeshi students choose to study in Malaysia, like the courses that are offered, the quality of education, and of course, Malaysia as a country itself! Are you a Bangladeshi student? Tell us why you chose to study in Malaysia in the comments! If you're thinking of studying in Malaysia, click here and let us help you out.
*Name has been changed for privacy