Making students feel at home through a student ambassadorship program

The University Kebangsaan Malaysia experience


  • Yazrina Yahya a:1:{s:5:"en_US";s:32:"The National University Malaysia";}
  • Doria Abdullah Universiti Teknologi Malaysia


International students in a Malaysian public higher education institution reported that they have to deal with difficulties in managing their academic load, social isolation, and cultural shock, among various adjustment challenges. They also had to deal with the different ways of doing things in the country. In view of this, the STAR (Student Ambassador Representative) programme is introduced since 2016 in order to make the international students feel at home, and minimise the cultural shock and changes they experience upon arriving in Malaysia. Local students are recruited as ambassadors, and are paired up with new international students for a semester. These students are trained in communication skills and basic on-campus know-how, in order to better assist the international students in adjusting to life in Malaysia. Student interviews showed the programme not only benefits the new international students, but also the local students, through their interaction with the international students.


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Author Biography

Doria Abdullah, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

Doria Abdullah is senior lecturer for the School of Education, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM). She is also Senior Manager (Strategy) for UTM School of Professional and Continuing Education (UTMSPACE). She specialises in higher education policy, with practical experience in developing policies on higher education since 2011. Among the policies which she has worked on include the Internationalisation Policy for Higher Education Malaysia (2011), Operational Framework for International Student Management in the Malaysian Higher Education System (2013); Shift 8 (Global Prominence), Malaysia Education Blueprint (Higher Education) (2015), and Kuala Lumpur Declaration on Higher Education (in conjunction with Malaysia’s chairmanship of ASEAN) (2015). Doria is also Certified Trainer under the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF), an agency under the Ministry of Human Resources Malaysia. She provides training on strategic management for government agencies and ministries, both locally and internationally.