Malaysia's Higher Education Ministry is to keep a tighter check on students who go overseas to study.
Students, both government-sponsored and private, will have to obtain a certificate before being allowed to leave the country.
Adham Baba, Higher Education Parliamentary Secretary, said "non-objection certificates", which will be issued by the ministry's student welfare department, will help the Government "track students' whereabouts" and help them get into the "right" universities.
Students applying to institutions not recognised by the Government will be refused certificates and thus permission to leave the country.
The ministry is introducing legislation to trigger the plan, which it hopes will be implemented "as soon as possible for the benefit of our students", according to Dr Baba. The 10,000-plus Malaysian students going overseas for study every year - mostly to the US, Britain, Australia, Canada and China as well as certain Middle-Eastern countries - will be required to provide details of their academic qualifications and proof that they have been offered a place overseas when they apply for a certificate.
Until now, private students did not need to register with the ministry's Malaysian students' department in the countries in which they were studying.
The minister, who is also secretary of the Malaysian Students Overseas Committee, did not define the penalties for students without a non-objection certificate. Nor did he respond to the suggestion that the plan would help clamp down on students studying at madrassas in countries such as Pakistan.
He said that the system would enable the Government to "determine the number and quality" of students studying overseas, and protect the students' "welfare and best interests".