Studying in Malaysia

Studying in Malaysia

The higher education (HE) system in Malaysia is similar to the one in the UK. Students can study for certificates, diplomas, degrees, masters and PhD qualifications. Masters degrees usually take one to three years to complete and PhDs three to five years.

Providers can be grouped into two main categories:

  • public HE institutions (government funded) – includes public universities offering degree and postgraduate courses (as well as some diploma level and university foundation courses).
  • private HE institutions – includes private universities, private colleges and foreign university branch campuses. These are privately owned universities that can award HE qualifications and collaborate with foreign universities to jointly award degree qualifications.

What courses can you study?

Courses are available in a wide range of subjects, including accounting and finance, computing and IT, engineering, humanities, medicine and healthcare, and social sciences.

Postgraduate courses are taught in English at all private universities and some public universities.

You can search for Malaysian universities according to their ranking using Top Universities and the Times Higher Education University Rankings.

For a list of courses and HE institutions in Malaysia, see Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS).

How do you apply for postgraduate study?

There is no centralised applications system and you need to apply direct to the institution you're interested in attending. If you're applying to a private HE institution, you need to check first that the institution has the approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs Malaysia to enrol international students. (All public universities are allowed to recruit international students.)

Application forms are usually available online on the institution's website. You will need to include a range of documents, including certified copies of your academic certificates, a photocopy of your passport, a medical health report and the application fee.

Intake dates vary between courses and institutions so check with individual providers.

Fees and scholarships

Tuition fees for postgraduate study in Malaysia are relatively low compared with the UK and vary between institutions and courses. Check with individual providers for details.

The cost of living in Malaysia is also relatively low and it's possible to live on a budget of around £320 a month, which includes costs such as accommodation, public transport, meals, mobile phone bills and utilities, and personal expenses.

Funding assistance may be available at Malaysian universities. Availability depends on  a range of factors, including your country of origin, subject of study, the class of your first degree and whether your postgraduate study is taught or research-based. Research tends to attract the greatest amount of grants, which often come from industry. The competition for grants is fierce.

Search the Study Malaysia database of scholarships and contact your chosen institution to see what funding opportunities, if any, are available.

Are there any exchange programmes?

If you're studying at a university with a campus in Malaysia, for example the University of Nottingham, you may have the opportunity to study for a semester or an academic year.

Will your qualifications be recognised in the UK?

Malaysian postgraduate degrees are comparable with masters and PhD qualifications from around the world.

Check with the university or higher education institution where you are hoping to study to see if their qualification is recognised or has an equivalent in the UK.

Do you need a visa to study in Malaysia?

You will need a visa, in the form of a Student Pass, to study in Malaysia. Once you've been accepted on to a course, your education institution will submit a Student Pass application on your behalf to EMGS for approval. For full details on the application process, see the EMGS website.

Written by AGCAS editors, September 2016