Malaysian universities and colleges are the first choice among Indonesian students compared to those in Europe and other western countries because of the lower cost of education and living in Malaysia.

Other factors that attract Indonesian students include a high teaching standard at Malaysian institutions of higher learning, as evidenced by the many twinning programmes with foreign universities apart from the climate, environment, culture and food, Deputy Human Resource Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar told reporters here Friday.

Earlier, he witnessed the signing of a Letter of Intent between Alliance Smartcard Technology (M) Sdn Bhd and Forum Dosen Swasta se-Indonesia (FORDSSI) for promoting Malaysian higher learning in Indonesia.

Alliance Smartcard was represented by its Managing Director, Dr Mohd Fauzi Mohamad and FORDSSI by its Secretary-General Dr Yusherman.

Many Malaysian students are also studying in Indonesian universities. Currently, 3,600 students from Malaysia are pursuing various degrees including in medicine and pharmacy there, while 14,000 Indonesian students are learning business studies, Information Technology and other subjects in Malaysia.

Mohd Fauzi said that his company had provided a portal, which was launched by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur in March 2006, to facilitate Indonesian students who wished to find accredited Malaysian campuses.