32.7 Million

Dubbed as 'Mini Asia', Malaysia is a multi-racial and multi-ethnic country where the majorities are the Malays, Chinese and Indian. In addition, there are some 29 ethnic groups including the majority groups of Dayaks (in Sarawak) and Kadazans (in Sabah). (It is estimated that 66.2% of the population are made up of Malays, Malay related and aboriginal people; 25.1% are Chinese; while Indians make up 7.4% and another 1.3% comprises other races). 

Malaysia is a peaceful, modern, multi-racial and fascinating nation located in the heart of South East Asia, directly to the south of Thailand and to the north of Singapore. The country offers international students a stimulating academic, social, multi-cultural and multi-ethnic environment, which would make their study and living there worth their money, time and effort. 

Already the world’s 11th most popular study destination according to UNESCO figures, Malaysia has even grander ambitions, aiming to be the sixth-largest education provider by 2020 with a target of gaining 200,000 international students by this date. Students from many parts of the world attending international schools and pursuing courses ranging from diploma to degrees to PhD in private higher educational institutions and public universities in Malaysia. This signifies the confidence and acceptance of Malaysia as an international destination for acquiring academic qualifications. 

Malaysia warmly welcomes international students to come to Malaysia to acquire an affordable academic qualification coupled with in-demand skills. Besides, students can gain multicultural knowledge which is vital to face future challenges in this fast evolving globalised market.

Why Study in Malaysia?

Listed below are some very valid reasons as to why Malaysia should be your ultimate and preferred destination for the pursuit of education abroad:

Malaysia is acknowledged as one of the pioneers in the region in the development and promotion of transnational Bachelor's degree programmes, starting way back in the early 1980s, collaborating with reputable universities from countries like the United Kingdom, USA, France, New Zealand, Germany, Australia, etc.

  • Pioneers in Transnational Education & International Affiliations, Branch Campuses of Foreign
  • Universities in Malaysia - the Best of Both Worlds
  • Malaysian University Qualifications - Export Quality, Focus on Research & Development
  • Low Living Cost & Affordable Tuition Fee - The Malaysian Advantage
  • English - The World Language in Malaysia
  • Dedicated Academic Staff with Diversified Global Qualifications, Career Relevant Courses with In-Demand Skills for Employability
  • Malaysia - Gateway to Asia, Strategic Location for Travelling - Widening Your Cultural Knowledge
  • Truly International Environment, Multi-Ethnic Population & Multicultural Society - Easy to Adapt
  • Immigration Procedures for You & Your Family - They are Simple & Hassle-Free
  • Working While You Study - You Can Do It to Supplement Living
  • Politically, Economically-Sound and Geographically-Safe Country - Ideal for Studying & Living

Malaysia has years of experience with international students. Thus, most of the 200 odd private higher educational institutions, English language centres and the public universities have the experience to gladly welcome international students. The International Student Offices in these institutions are accustomed to working with foreign students of various ethnic, cultural and educational backgrounds. Therefore, international students are assured of support and attention during their studies here. 

Thus, by studying in Malaysia, international students will acquire the knowledge and skills needed to meet the demands of a global market as well as enjoy a comfortable and an enriching stay in Malaysia.

The higher education system comprises of: 

  • Polytechnics / College education from age 18
  • Teacher Training Institutes from age 18
  • Undergraduate studies from age 19/20 (for 3 to 5 years)
  • Postgraduate studies [Master's Degree or Ph. D studies, after acquiring the bachelor’s degree] (for 1 to 5 years)

Categories of Educational Institutions

In the Malaysian higher education structure, there are following categories of educational institutions:

1. Government-funded public universities, polytechnics, and colleges 

2. Private higher educational institutions which include:

  • non-university status institutions such as private colleges
  • university status institutions such as private universities
  • foreign university branch campuses e.g., Monash University Malaysia and The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

English is the medium of instruction in most of the private higher educational institutions.

Higher Education Institutions

Study options are abundant and flexible in Malaysia. They are readily available at both public and private educational institutions. Both the public and private education providers play equally important roles in the provision of higher education. As such, higher education in Malaysia is well covered by the public and private higher educational institutions from certificate and diploma to undergraduates as well as postgraduate programmes. Higher education providers in Malaysia can be grouped into 2 major groups:

Admission Requirements

Public universities only accept holders of the Malaysian qualification programmes for entry into their bachelor's degree courses. Polytechnics and other public-funded colleges accept SPM qualifications into their certificate or diploma courses. Some non-critical courses at bachelor’s degree level in public universities are also offered to international students (limited seats). Public universities accept all qualified international students for postgraduate studies. 

Meanwhile, private universities, private colleges and foreign university branch campuses accept pre-university qualifications awarded by either the Malaysian government such as the STPM or other External Academic Qualifications or university foundation programmes such as GCE ‘A' level, SAM (Australia), CPU (Canada), SMU3 from Indonesia, etc. into their bachelor’s degree courses which are conducted in English.

1. Public (government-funded) Higher Educational Institutions

This category of government-funded higher educational institutions includes public universities, public university colleges, public colleges, polytechnics, community colleges, public college, and teacher training institutes, which accept all qualified international students for postgraduate and research studies. University education in Malaysia is provided by the public sector, via the 19 public universities and one international university leading to the awards of diplomas, bachelor's Degrees and postgraduate degrees (Master's and PhD) 

The entry requirement for postgraduate studies (Masters' degree) is a bachelor’s degree qualification recognised by the university's senate.

2. Private-funded Institutes of Higher Learning (PHEIs)

Private higher education is the education provided to students by the Private Higher Educational Institutions (PHEIs), which are non-government aided. These institutions play a significant role in fulfilling the needs of higher education for the locals as well as foreign students. 

The PHEIs provide a wide range of internationally- rated internal qualification programmes, foreign-university-awarded degree programmes, professional and semi-professional courses as well as English courses. The PHEIs also offer a wide range of courses with various modes of studies for selection and assured quality education. Malaysia's private higher education is unique & renowned in the world because it offers students a wide variety of study options and the many selections of both local and foreign university qualifications to suit individual preferences. Students can also select either the conventional full-time, part-time study or the virtual study modes to obtain their qualification at reasonable costs. 

PHEIs' programmes are offered to different levels of students and will lead to the award of Certificate, Diploma or Degree qualifications. There are also several PHEIs which have started conducting post-graduate degrees.

Categories of PHEIs:

Non-university Status Institutions, i.e.,

  • Private Colleges
  • Private Institutions

University Status Institutions, i.e.,

  • Private Universities
  • Private University Colleges
  • Foreign Branch Campus Universities

Non-university Status Institutions

Non-university status institutions such as Private Colleges/Institutes have been providing a wide range of options or pathways for students to pursue their desired paper qualifications via degree programmes awarded by foreign universities (from bachelor to postgraduate degrees), franchised degree programmes, professional and semi-professional courses, English language courses, internationally rated internal certificate or diploma programmes and many more. Most of these private colleges also award their own internal certificates or Diplomas.

Malaysian private colleges are renowned internationally for their long-established twinning-degree-programme arrangements with foreign renowned universities. In addition, most of these PHEIs are also providing a most unique education structure, that is, the 3+0-degree programmes. Under this arrangement, students have a choice of pursing the British, American, Australian, French, NZ or Canadian programme leading to bachelor’s degree qualifications, without having to leave Malaysia.

University Status Institutions

Private Universities and University Colleges award their own degrees among other qualifications. They also collaborate with reputable foreign universities to jointly award degree qualifications. Foreign Branch Campus Universities located in Malaysia award degree qualifications that are identical to that of the host universities (overseas). These institutions make it possible for students to obtain degree qualifications from the branch campus by paying the cost of a Malaysian education (at affordable level).

Academic Qualification Requirements for Entering into PHEIs: The general entry requirement to pursue Diploma programmes is the GCSE'O' level with a minimum of 3 credits, whereas students with GCE ‘A' Levels, University Foundation Programme, SAM, and CPU are allowed to enter the year 1 of their undergraduate programmes. Proficiency in the English language is another requirement by the PHEIs. Students are expected to have adequate knowledge and understanding of English, as this is the language of instruction at the private colleges and universities. Various international examinations such as the TOEFL and IELTS are acceptable for entry into the bachelor’s degree programmes.

Students who are holders of GCE ‘O' Levels / GCE ‘A' Levels or other equivalent qualifications must APPLY DIRECTLY if they are interested in applying to these institutions. Unlike the enrolment into public universities at the Diploma and Bachelor's Degree levels, there is no centralised intake body that governs the enrolment of students into private institutions. 

The various steps involved in entering Malaysia to Study 

Step 1

You submit an application form to study together with relevant documents to the intended educational institution which has the official approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs Malaysia Immigration Department) to recruit international students. 

Step 2

Your application to study is accepted by educational institution which will then help YOU to apply for student pass at the Malaysian Immigration Department in Malaysia prior to your entry. 

Step 3

Upon acceptance, a letter of approval for student pass will be released by Malaysian Immigration Department to the educational institution which offered the place for you to study. The educational institution will send the approval letter to you while you are still in India. 

Step 4

Before leaving India for Malaysia, you must inform the educational institution of your port of entry (airport), flight number, arrival date and time. 

Step 5

Upon your arrival at the airport in Malaysia, the educational institutions representative will receive you at the immigration checkpoint at the Malaysian airport. Visa will be issued to you at the entry point in the form of an endorsement on your valid national Passport. 

Step 6

Within 2 weeks of your arrival, the educational institution will submit your passport to the Immigration Department to affix the Student Pass sticker.

Tuition fees 

Fees differ between universities in Malaysia, with the prevalence of international branch campuses and private institutions bringing the overall average up. In general, however, studying in Malaysia is cheaper than many countries, with average tuition fees currently standing at approximately US$3,985 per year.

Malaysia is a preferred location for many international students because of the low cost of living and education. 

A bachelor's degree can range from RM 43,000 to RM 100,000 depending on the course being opted. The post-graduate degree can range between RM 1,800 to 30,000 which depends on the course and whether the university is public or private. 

Some of the Malaysian Government scholarships for international students are 

  • MTCP Scholarship
  • MIS Scholarship for Undergraduate studies
  • MIS Scholarship for Postgraduate Studies
  • Commonwealth Scholarship

Living Expenses 

The cost of living for international students in Malaysia may vary from MYR 10,000-12,000 per year, including food, travel, and accommodation. While this is relatively low compared to many other destinations, it is of course still important to plan your budget as early as possible, especially as your visa application will require proof of available funds.

The procedures below will give international students a more detailed explanation about visa, student pass and other procedures in order to enter and stay in Malaysia for study purposes: 

  • Application Procedures for a Visa
  • Application Procedures for a Student Pass
  • Arriving in Malaysia: At the Malaysia Immigration Check Point
  • Issuance of Student Pass to Students

 The visa will be issued to you upon your arrival in Malaysia at the immigration check point.

The process to apply for a student pass is simple. The Malaysian educational institutions of higher learning which offer international students like YOU a place to study at their institutions will apply for the Student Pass on your behalf in Malaysia. The prospective students will be informed of their application status by the Immigration Department in Malaysia through their educational institutions within 7 days of the application, irrespective of whether it has been successful or not.

Documents required for applying student pass

The Malaysian educational institutions are required to submit the following documents to the Malaysian Immigration Department Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur in order to apply for the student pass for students who intend to study at institutions of higher learning in Malaysia. The documents are as follows: -

  • An offer letter or letter of acceptance from the educational institution to the student
  • Student Pass Application Form (IMM14) in duplicate
  • Two photocopies of the students Passport / Travel Document
  • Two passport-sized photographs of the student

The educational institution is required to sign a Personal Bond prescribed under Regulation 18 of the Immigration Regulations 1963 so as to guarantee that the person (student) to whom such a Pass is issued will comply with the provisions of the Ordinance and any regulations made there-under.

All international students studying at public or private higher educational institutions are allowed to work part-time. Students are allowed to work part-time for a maximum of 20 hours per week only during semester breaks or holidays of more than 7 days; in Restaurants, Petrol Kiosks, Mini Markets and Hotels as long as the Student Pass remains valid. Students are not permitted to work as a cashier. 

In addition, in the hotel sector, students are not allowed to work as singer, masseur, musician, GRO, and other activities deemed to be immoral. Application to work part-time must be made through the educational institution in which the student is studying. The student needs to be present with the educational institution representative at the Immigration Department when submitting the application.

This means that earning your tuition and living expenses as you go is not an option.


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