Malaysia is one of the best emerging countries in providing higher education
to international students. More than
100,000 international students are
pursuing their higher education in Malaysia from around 100 countries.
Malaysia was ranked 9th in UNESCO’s
rating for top countries for
international students. This gave a boost to the students all over the world to
go for higher education in this country.
One of the most common and important reasons for students to opt for
Malaysia for their higher studies is the
affordable tuition costs with a top-
The option of getting a degree from an international
university like Nottingham University at the same tuition costs as Malaysia is
a great advantage for students.
Living costs are also much affordable in Malaysia compared to other study-
abroad destinations. This helps international students to spend time, travel,
explore places, and enjoy an independent life. Renting an apartment or a
sharing flat is highly affordable in Malaysia compared to another study
abroad country. There are a lot of convenient traveling options for students,
especially in big cities of Malaysia with cost-efficient facilities.
The qualifications obtained in Malaysia are recognized globally. The National
Quality Assurance Agency plays a pivotal role in building a standard higher
education system in Malaysia. Along with this, there are several courses with
specializations that are offered by Malaysian universities.
universities work closely with industries and partner universities
other countries to provide up-to-date and market-relevant programs.
The most common language spoken is no doubt Malaysian, but the majority of
people understand and speak English very well. So, as an international
student, you don’t have to learn Malay unless you want to learn some new
language. Also, English is the primary language of instruction in most of
the institutions in Malaysia. So, in a span of 2-3 semesters, you will improve
your English language skills.
You will come across a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate
programs offered in Malaysian universities. Along with this, you also have an
option of ‘Twinning programs’. Through twinning programs, you can study
your 1st and 2nd year at a Malaysian university and complete your final year
at partner universities in abroad countries like the US, UK, New Zealand, and
Australia. Also, students from Asian countries may feel at home in Malaysia as
there are many ethnic groups of Malays, Chinese, and Indians who celebrate
their traditional festivals.
Malaysia is near a lot of famous countries like Singapore, Indonesia, and
Thailand that are just 3 hours away by flight. So, during long vacations,
students can also explore nearby tourist countries and get a different
experience. Malaysia has a simple immigration process that helps
international students for a stress-free journey. Colleges and universities
provide necessary guidance to international students during their
Malaysia can offer you a wide variety of cuisines and is often referred to
as Food Paradise.
There is a fine blend of Indian, Chinese, and Malay food in
Malaysian cuisine along with a mixed style of Peranakan and Eurasian
cooking. Due to the increase in international citizens from around the world,
restaurants have started serving western, continental, and Middle Eastern
Malaysia is politically stable and a peaceful nation with a government that
focuses on international recognition and building strong higher education
with top-class quality. Malaysia is the 29th safest country according to the
Global Peace Index (2017). It is also geographically placed in the safe zone
from different natural disasters that make it a calm and pleasant country to
MALAYSIA AS A STUDY ABROAD DESTINATION
Malaysia is known for its modern lifestyle, acceptance of diverse cultures, and colorful environment. Along with these, there are many reasons for international citizens to live and study in Malaysia. As rated by UNESCO, Malaysia is the 11th most preferred study abroad destination. It is also recognized as the global education hub. The Malaysian higher education ministry has also planned to increase the intake of international students per year.
The multiculturalism in Malaysia means that students are exposed to diverse cultures and multiple languages. This gives them a unique experience and adds this to their personal and professional skills. Apart from the cultural and traditional differences students will experience delicious food and explore places that will give them the regional flavor.
Another advantage of studying in Malaysian universities is that English is a primary language for instructions. The programs that are accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency Act 2007 are highly preferred by the government for employment purposes in the public sector due to the quality assurance by the MQA act.
Kuala Lumpur ranked 1st in the QS rankings for the most affordable cities for students for the year 2016. Malaysia is no doubt one of the best countries with cheap tuition and living costs compared to other study abroad destinations. Malaysia also ranks among the top places for quality living by providing top-class safety, health, and education in Asia-pacific.
The private colleges and universities in Malaysia can also act as a route towards other international universities. This can happen through American Degree Programs and Credit transfer programs. There are many sectors where international students can work along with their studies. All you need to have is a student pass that will allow you to work part-time for 20 hours per week.
Entering into Malaysia for international students is hassle-free and involves a simple process. Malaysian airport is the 9th best airport in the world. With this, students will find it convenient to travel to nearby countries like Thailand, Singapore, China, and Malaysia, etc. Low-cost Airlines like AirAsia, Cebu Pacific, Tiger Airways, and Scoot makes it an affordable journey for students.
The cities in Malaysia like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Malaysia Borneo, and Johor Bahru are considered on top for providing top-class education with a vibrant atmosphere, cosmopolitan lifestyle, and all-round international experience.
Malaysia has a specialty in treating their international students. Their international student support services involve accommodation arrangements, social and recreational activities, and guiding students right from the airport by assisting through a representative.
Malaysia has a unique international essence with political stability and low crime rates. Due to this, there has been a tremendous increase in international students opting for Malaysia as their higher education destination.
Due to a strong governmental approach towards development in the education sector, the rapid improvement in the education system has put millions into the research and development department and opened great opportunities in work and studies for international students.
More than 150,000 international students were studying in Malaysia in the year 2015. Also, this is focused to increase up to 200,000 by the Malaysian Higher Education Ministry.
The school year in Malaysia is from January to November. The academic year
for higher education is divided into semesters according to subjects.
Sometimes the universities extend the 3rd semester by 8-10 weeks for
students to complete their program within a shorter period. The Malaysian
government provides free education at the primary level for six years and five
years at the secondary level. Secondary education consists of 3 years of lower
secondary education and two years of upper secondary education that makes
it a total of eleven years of free education.
Pre-school to secondary education or pre-tertiary education is administered
by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and tertiary or higher education is
administered by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE).
The higher education phase includes the following departments:
The department of higher education
Public Higher Education Management Sector
Private Higher Education Management Sector
The Department of Polytechnics Education
The Department of Community College Education
The Higher Education Management Sector
The Higher Education Development Sector
Malaysian Qualifications Agency
National Professor Council
National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN)
Higher Education Leadership Academy
Levels of education in Malaysia: -
Preschool and kindergarten education (children from 4 to 6 years)
Primary education (6 to 11+ years, standard 1 to 6 for six years)
Secondary education (12 to 16+ years, from 1 to 5 for five years):
Lower secondary from age 12 to 14+
Upper secondary from age 15 – 16 +
In this, students have options to choose three types of schools:
Academic (Arts or Science Stream)
Technical and Vocational
Post-secondary education/pre-university from age 17+(1 to 2 years):-
After completing secondary education, students can go for post-secondary
education that is a preparatory course to pursue the university level of higher
After this, students have options to study: -
Form 6, STPM for one and half years or;
Matriculation for one year or;
STAM for one year
Tertiary education: At tertiary level education, universities and institutions offer the following
Certificate and Diploma education from age 17+ onwards
Bachelor’s degree from age 18+ for 3 to 5 years
Masters or Ph.D. degree studies after getting a bachelor's degree for 1 to 5
Medium of instruction
Primary level public schools have Bahasa Malaysia (the National Language) or
either Chinese or Tamil with both Bahasa Malaysia and English taught as
Secondary level public schools have Bahasa Malaysia as their primary
language of instruction while English is taught as a second language in all
For higher education level, English is used as a primary language of
instruction in most of the institutes in Malaysia. However, many bachelor
degree courses at public universities are taught in Bahasa Malaysia (the
For higher education-level there are two types of institutes:-
Government-Funded public universities, polytechnics, community colleges,
and public colleges
Private higher education institutes (non-funded by the government) which
includes Private universities, University colleges, Foreign University Branch
Campuses, Private colleges.
The degree classification equivalent to US grade is suggested below by
WES (World Education Services): -
Similar to other study abroad destinations, tuition costs vary with institutions and universities. However, tuition and living costs are cheaper compared to other countries like the US, UK, Australia, and Canada, etc.
Academic fees in Malaysian universities include:
Computer/Science Laboratory fee
Other than the above academic fees, non-academic fees like health insurance, medical and visa fees are also to be considered while planning your finances to study in Malaysia.
Pre University fees: - For students who have completed IGCSE or O- level and are now looking for pre-university study options to go for bachelor’s or professional courses, Malaysia offers a wide range of pre-university programs. Tuition costs for a pre-university course like: -
Cambridge GCE A- levels, UK – $4700 to $9500 (15-18 months, 3 subjects)
AUSMAT, Australia - $5200 to $7000 (10 months, 5-6 subjects)
Monash University Foundation Year - $7500 (12 months, 4-5 subjects)
New South Wales High School Certificate - $3800 (12 months,5 subjects)
CIMP, Canada - $9500 (12 months, 6 subjects)
Tuition costs for bachelor degree in Malaysian private universities
Bachelor degree in Engineering (4 years) – the average cost of $17,000
Bachelor degree in IT (3 years) – the average cost of $13,500
Bachelor degree in Business (3 years) – the average cost of $11,000
Total costs including accommodation, food, and other expenses can cost around $35,000. However, at public institutions, tuition costs are lower compared to private universities.
Tuition costs for Master degree courses
For a Master in Business administration, tuition cost at private universities is in the range of $5000 to $10,000 for 1 to 1.5 years duration.
For a Master in Business administration, tuition cost at private universities is in the range of $5500 to $6500 for 1 to 1.5 years duration.
Medicine courses in a private university can cost around $63,000 to $108,000 for complete courses. Whereas, Hospitality and Management courses in a private university can cost $12000 - $14,500 for complete courses.
Tuition costs at Foreign Branch campus: -
Engineering courses can cost around $22,000 - $42,000
IT courses can cost around $13,000 - $25,000
Business courses can cost around $13,500 - $24,000
Medicine courses can be costly and cost around $100,000 - $115,000
The above tuition fees are for full-time and complete courses.
Average tuition costs of different levels in Malaysia:-
Diploma degree – $2000 to $6000
Bachelor’s degree - $2500 to $10,000
Master’s Degree - $3000 to $5000
The tuition costs for Twinning Programs vary with universities and course type. You can check the official websites of universities offering Twinning Program like Taylor’s University and Sunway University and check the costs for your program. This cost is much lower than the fees required in the host countries like the UK and Australia.
As we discussed, one of the main reasons for international students to choose Malaysia as their study abroad destination is reasonable tuition and living costs. The accommodation costs for either on-campus or off-campus are very affordable compared to other study abroad destinations. An average budget for living comfortably in cities of Malaysia can go around $500 - $600 per month for international students.
SCHOLARSHIPS TO STUDY IN MALAYSIA
For international students, it is a relief to know that their higher education is
secured as far as finances are concerned. The most popular and guaranteed
way of lowering your expenses for abroad studies is applying for
The following are is the list of scholarships available in Malaysia for domestic
as well as international students: -
Monash University Malaysia Scholarships for Undergraduate studies: -
Monash University accepts applications from qualified candidates to study all
undergraduate courses except Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Psychological
Science, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), and Bachelor of Pharmacy. The selected
candidates will get a benefit of RM5000 per semester while maintaining the
required academic record.
Heriot-Watt University Bachelor and Master Scholarships:-
This scholarship is offered to both bachelor and master's degree pursuing students.
The fields of study include Accounting, Engineering, Psychology, Quantity surveying,
and construction project management. The scholarship award is offered through
50% and 100% fee waivers.
International Scholarships Asia Pacific University of Technology:-
This is partially funded by scholarship, intended towards the international
enthusiast. The students applying for this scholarship must have joined the APU
program. The scholarship is limited to course fees only and all the other expenses
like registration, living, travel, project, etc should be carried out by the scholarship
University of Malaya AUN-DPPnet Postgraduate scholarships in Malaysia: -
This scholarship is awarded to the applicants whose study subject is in the field of
Public Policy. The scholarship award includes several benefits like tuition fees,
monthly stipend, flight ticket, one-time placement allowance, and many other one
time allowances. The scholarship is intended for ASEAN nationals that are Malaysia,
Brunei, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, and
Jeffrey Cheah Foundation Scholarships: -
This scholarship is available for undergraduate degree courses except for Bachelor
of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), and Bachelor of Pharmacy. This
scholarship covers a 100% tuition fee along with a stipend amount and
accommodation or only a 50% tuition fee waiver. Only permanent residents of
Malaysia can avail of this scholarship.
Postgraduate Scholarships for International Students- University of
Technology in Malaysia: -
These scholarships are available for both local and international students pursuing
MPhil and Ph.D. degree courses at MJIIT. Scholarships are awarded to the subjects
offered at the university. The grant covers tuition fee waiver and monthly
MAHSA Engineering Scholarships for overseas students in Malaysia: -
This partial scholarship is offered to all engineering courses for students from Syria,
Palestine, Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Yemen, and Somalia. Scholarships would be in
the form of discounts on tuition fees annually. English language course is
compulsory for applying for this scholarship.
International Graduate Student Scholarship at Universiti Putra Malaysia: -
These scholarships are available for students pursuing a graduate program. The
scholarship is awarded to research priority areas relevant to UPM/Malaysia. The
scholarship covers 50% of the tuition fees for six semesters.
International Medical University Scholarships for foreign Students in
These scholarships are available for pre-university and undergraduate degree
programs. These scholarships are generally for medical-related courses and the
benefits are in the form of a tuition fee waiver. The scholarship is awarded to local
as well as international students based on their SPM or O – level results.
Full Tuition fee scholarships at the University of Nottingham, Malaysia
This postgraduate scholarship is awarded to promising students who can make a
difference in the development and prosperity of their home country. The
scholarship consists of 10 awards that cover 100% of tuition costs to study courses
like MSc Chemical Engineering, MSc Civil Engineering, MA International Relations,
MSc Computer Science, MA Education Leadership and Management, etc.
*Variable- This requirement varies according to the program and university
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