Study in Malaysia

Country overview

Malaysia is a southeast Asian country that is simultaneously modern, traditional, developed and historic with a peaceful multicultural population. Indigenous Malay and traditional tribes such as the Iban and Bidayuh live harmoniously alongside a large Chinese and Indian populace and this seamless blending of cultures lends Malaysia an international flavour that few countries can boast.

It is also fast becoming a very popular place for international students. According to some of the recent Surveys, Malaysia is the fourth most popular Asian destination for international students after Japan, Hong Kong and India.

With an equatorial climate and inviting culture, Malaysia is a welcoming country in which to visit and study. Crime is low and transport links are excellent with major towns and cities connected by air and, failing that, by inexpensive bus. Opportunities for a vivid cultural experience are very high while politically and economically the country is considered to be stable.

Education overview The governing authority of higher educational institutions is the Ministry of Higher Education and they govern:

  • Public Universities are fully funded government universities.
  • Polytechnics train school leavers to be skilled technical assistants and technicians in various engineering fields, or junior & middle level executives.
  • Community Colleges: institutions for SPM or SPM(V) school leavers to train, 're-skill' or 'up-skill' themselves.
  • Teacher Training Colleges are responsible for producing teachers under the management of Teacher Education Division in the Ministry of Education.
  • Technical & Vocational Education is an alternative to academic qualifications. It emphasises hands-on training and new skills.
  • Private Universities are privately owned universities, established by financially sound corporations. They can confer the award of Bachelor degrees & other higher qualifications.
  • Foreign University Branch Campuses are universities from foreign countries, which provide the option for students in Malaysia to obtain foreign tertiary qualifications locally instead of going abroad.
  • Private Colleges are colleges run by the private sector to provide tertiary education to school leavers.

It has also seen support from a number of international universities, such as Australia's Monash University and the University of Nottingham in the UK. These have branch campuses offering exactly the same courses as their home country institutions but, of course, at a fraction of the cost. For example, the tuition fee of a 3-year UK engineering degree is priced at about US$7,600 per year in the Malaysian branch compared to US$24,000 per year in the UK main campus. Cost of living is around US$3,000 - $4,000 per year, much cheaper than the US or Europe.

Such courses offer students the chance to study at the overseas campus for one or two semesters and allow students to graduate from two universities at the same time - the Malaysian one and the overseas host institution. There is also a prevalence of courses known as 'Two-plus-one' twinning degrees where you enrol in the Malaysian course and spend a year overseas at a twinned institution, perhaps in Australia, New Zealand or the UK. Great for your learning and cultural understanding of two different parts of the world.

Pros and Cons:


  • Very inexpensive tuition fees and cost of living
  • Well resourced private and public universities
  • Vibrant and interesting cultural experience
  • Safe living environment and good transportation
  • English language-based courses


  • Culture shock can be a problem for some students
  • Low acceptance rate of international students from some races
  • Complex visa situation for some nationalities
  • Inability to work regularly, if at all, on a student visa

Useful info

  • Dialing code: 60
  • Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (RM)