Maszlee vows to investigate company behind ‘exorbitant’ student visa fees

PETALING JAYA: The education ministry said it was investigating a claim that a company tasked with processing foreign student visas has been charging exorbitant fees despite the immigration department doing much of the work.

Its minister Maszlee Malik said it was taking seriously a memorandum on the matter submitted to him today.

“The Ministry of Education will comprehensively study the allegations and will take appropriate action if it was found that power abuse and mismanagement had taken place,” he said in a statement.

The memorandum by Parti Negara, which is headed by Mohamed Ezam Nor, among others urged the ministry to recover hundreds of millions of ringgit in profit made by a company which entered into an agreement with the ministry-owned Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS).

It alleged that Scicom (MSC) Berhad has been charging RM1,000 per foreign student through EMGS, and that visa processing charges per student went up by 1,200% since the contract was signed with the now-dissolved Ministry of Higher Education, then headed by Khaled Nordin.

In its response, Scicom rejected the claims against it as “malicious allegations”, saying it has “a sterling track record and an unblemished implementation capability”.

“We manage complex operations for multinational clients and governments,” the company said, adding that it was considering taking legal action against Parti Negara because the allegations were malicious, defamatory and made in bad faith”.

Khaled has since told FMT that the company was chosen through open tender.

“Whether or not it is doing its work, it is for EMGS to respond,” he said.

The memorandum by Parti Negara also claimed that immigration officers were found to have been stationed at the company’s office in Kuala Lumpur and not at the immigration department.

“This violates national security,” said the party’s pro-tem vice-president S Gobi Krishnan, adding that Malaysia’s attraction to foreign students as an education hub has taken a beating due to the high fees on student visas.