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On 17 January 2011, Malaysia's Minister of Higher Education, Mohamed Khaled Nordin, announced in his New Year Speech that a new academic calendar commencing September, instead of July, would be adopted by Malaysian local public universities from 2011 onward. The change of the calendar will be introduced in phases and be completed by 2013/14, according to the official statement.
In hope of reaching the national target of attracting 150 000 international students by 2015, the Malaysian government has launched a series of internationalisation initiatives to promote Malaysian higher education abroad. Target countries – specifically, Brazil, Chile, India, Indonesia, Iraq, South Korea, Tatarstan and Turkey – have been identified for international student recruitment. Islamic banking and finance, among others, is highlighted as a focused area of study to be marketed internationally. The change of academic calendar is believed to be another essential step in connecting Malaysian universities with the outside world by enabling student exchange with other countries and the recruitment of talented students and world-famous faculty from abroad.
The introduction of the new academic calendar in 2011 has, however, taken many universities by surprise due to the short notice. The official statement of the minister came as a final confirmation of the change amidst many rumours in the preceding weeks. It acknowledges the challenges that universities may face in the initial stage of the change and promises support from the Ministry's Department of Higher Education.New Year Speech 2011, Minister of Higher Education Mohamed Khaled Nordin (paragraph: 37-39) (in Bahasa Malaysia)