Though Malaysia now boasts a fair number of universities, the limited number of places means that every year, many of our successful A-level students go abroad to study. Those who have come back with overseas degrees cite various advantages in going abroad for further studies.
For one thing, many of them feel that there is a greater choice of courses open to Malaysian undergraduate overseas, whereas here, the student is often not permitted to do the desired course because there are too many people applying for it or because of the quota system.
Furthermore, studying overseas means that students are separated from the comforts of home since they cannot afford the time and the money to come back every month or so. Being on their own without parents or the maid to attend to their needs usually encourages these students to become more independent – they learn to organize their time efficiently as they have to study as well as keep house and cook their own meals.
On the other hand, overseas education often comes at great cost. Many families sacrifice a great deal and live frugally so that they can send their children to pursue their studies abroad. The students themselves might suffer initial pangs of homesickness and find difficultly in adjusting to a new environment.
Also, there is the fear that these youngsters, unsupervised by their elders and mixing mainly with people their own age, might be easily influenced by the laxity of lifestyle which is so prevalent overseas. They might get hooked on drugs, be corrupted by strange ideas and eventually become alienated from their own culture.
However, I personally feel that an overseas education is a broadening experience. Malaysians studying overseas get to meet, not only students of host country, but also other foreign students like themselves. They become familiar with other cultures on a more intimate...