Earlier this week, the Higher Education Ministry of Oman banned four Malaysian universities including Limkokwing University
The universities are Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM), SEGI University, Limkokwing University of Creative Technology and Binary University of Management & Entrepreneurship, according to a report by the Times of Oman.
The report stated the Committee for the Recognition of Non-Omani Higher Education Institutions and the Equivalence of Educational Qualifications in the Oman Higher Education Ministry issued a decision to stop dealing with these Malaysian universities.
Following the decision, which was taken over various alleged abuses by the four universities, Omani students are no longer allowed to attend the universities, the Committee said
The Times of Oman reported Yahya bin Salam Al Mundhari, the Cultural Attaché in Malaysia, explaining Oman's reasons for blacklisting the four Malaysian universities.
"Most of these reasons are academic and administrative, including the existence of complaints against these universities by some of the Omani students studying there.
"These universities are not complying with some of the laws of the country of scholarships such as registering students, allowing them to study on tourist visas and most of these universities are unresponsive and not cooperating with the Cultural Mission in solving the challenges facing Omani students."
In total, there are 378 Omani students enrolled in the four universities.
Meanwhile, the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) has said that they will investigate Oman's decision to ban the four Malaysian universities to ensure there is no miscommunication
"If there is a mistake, we will improve on it. In Malaysia, quality of education is important," MOHE minister Idris Jusoh said, while adding that for the time being, he viewed positively the decision of the Oman government in disallowing its students to pursue their tertiary education at the four Malaysian universities.
"This is not just to attract international students to our shores. Quality education is also for the good of the people as a whole. So we don’t need to compromise on the quality of education in the country," he was quoted as saying by NST Online.
On the other hand, SEGi University, one of the four universities to be banned by Oman, has issued a statement saying that there was no information or indication given prior to the ban
"There has been no indication of any possible issues prior to the announcement made to the media outlets in Oman. Our top priority is to engage with the Cultural Attache in Malaysia to swiftly address the matter," read the statement posted on SEGi's website.
"We would like to stress that all students in our university are treated fairly and equally in all aspects of student life, including services and education standards, regardless of their nationality.
"As a reflection of our commitment to full transparency and good practice standards for the best educational experience for our students, we welcome and are ready to give full cooperation to relevant authorities to check or verify settings and current status of Omani students in our campus."
It was the same with Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)
USIM deputy vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Zulkiple Abdul Ghani was quoted by NST Online on 2 October saying that the university has yet to receive any official information on the ban from Oman’s Higher Education Ministry or its embassy, adding that the issue was only made aware to them through news reports from Times of Oman.
"However, an immediate meet-up will be organised by USIM with the Oman embassy to discuss this issue. Any problems or issues related with international students, whether it involves student welfare, finance or academics, have always been given the utmost attention by USIM as we believe they (international students) are our stakeholders.".
Meanwhile, Binary University of Management and Entrepreneurship has hit back at the Omani cultural attache, accusing them of defaming and damaging the university's reputation by providing incorrect and misleading information to the MOHE in Oman
According to a report in FMT, Binary University claimed that they have not received any visit from the Omani cultural attache’s office, nor was there any consultation on the allegations.
"They did not write to us to inform us of any non-compliance. As such we are totally in the dark as to why we are being penalised and how they came up with such a report. We have been waiting for formal notification since Monday and have yet to receive the notification," Binary vice-chancellor Dr Sulochana Nair said.