WASHINGTON, May 23 – Mara plans to send more students to the United States to pursue degrees in critical fields to spur the nation’s economic growth, Minister of Rural and Regional Development, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal, said here Wednesday before departing for London. There are currently about 3,000 Mara-sponsored students across Europe, and only 700 in the US in a wide-range of fields including engineering, actuarial science and risk management. Mara wanted to build its human resource capital by sponsoring more of its students to pursue post-graduate degrees in critical areas while actively engaged in the fields of research, he said as he wrapped up his 10-day working visit to the US with stops in San Francisco, Boston, and Washington DC.

“We want to encourage our students to be independent, to be creative and to aspire to become job creators rather than job seekers when they return home,” he said in explaining Mara’s transformation efforts. If a student pursues a law degree, he or she should think about opening a law firm, or if a student pursues the medical degree, he or she should think about opening a clinic, he added. Shafie urged Malaysian students in the US to build a network of international friends who can in the future support their efforts as entrepreneurs to break into the international market. “The world is becoming global – we need a global mindset to succeed,” he said.

He was pleased that more universities in the US were opening doors and making accommodations for Malaysian transfer students with the recent visit of President Barack Obama to Malaysia. Plans are also afoot to send students to the US to study in community colleges for two years and another two years in universities. Members of the entourage visited San Mateo County Community College in San Francisco, the Babson College in Boston, and the Mason Enterprise Center, which is run by George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, and Virginia Tech in Virginia. The minister also took the opportunity to meet and have dialogues with Malaysian students studying in those cities. Shafie is accompanied by the Deputy Secretary-General of the Ministry, Datuk Rahim Abu Bakar, the Director-General of MARA, Datuk Ibrahim Ahmad, and the President of University Kuala Lumpur, Prof Datuk Mazliham Su’ud.

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