The Guide For International Students to Study in Malaysia

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1. Why Study In Malaysia

The curious nature of mankind makes us seek knowledge because it enables us to make informed decisions in order to live a successful and fulfilled life. The more knowledge we acquire over time, the more we open ourselves to developing useful skill sets, exploring new places and cultures, sharing experiences with others and discovering exciting opportunities. Pursuing higher education to gain knowledge has enabled millions of students around the world to explore the possibility of building successful careers outside of their home countries which has contributed greatly to the globalised world we live in today. 

With the current global dynamics changing at a fast pace, top multinational firms and startups value talents who can work in a multicultural environment to continue expanding and operating their businesses successfully. In order to get a chance to work for such companies, students choose to study abroad to help them gain international exposure to secure their future employability chances at the top firms. 

Among many places in the world where you can go for your higher studies to gain knowledge that will prepare you for a globalised workforce, Malaysia is certainly your best chance of getting high quality without breaking the bank. Malaysia has grown in popularity as a destination for international students from all over the world. Malaysia now hosts students from over 120+ countries. The universities are well-structured and offer well-designed, cohesive programmes which are globally recognised.

Located in Southeast Asia, lying around the north of the Equator, Malaysia is, without question, one of the most fascinating and captivating destinations for international students. It is a perfect blend of multi-ethnicity, multicultural and multilingual society, and with such cultural diversity, welcoming and humble people, fascinating tourist destinations, hi-tech life, and incredible quality of higher education, students from around the world are choosing to study in Malaysia.

 

Globally Certified Education​

Leading Malaysian universities offer programs designed and developed to meet and exceed global quality benchmarks. Malaysian universities consistently collaborate with international academic bodies, global institutions and international universities to ensure the programmes being offered in Malaysia are at par with the world’s leading institutions. As a result, the certifications and programmes taught in Malaysia are fully recognised worldwide. This ensures that students who study in Malaysia are able to get worldwide recognition for their qualifications.

Universities in Malaysia are well known for their worldwide collaborations and international partnerships. This ensures that students who study in Malaysia get qualifications which are endorsed and accepted by international counterparts and also enables great collaboration opportunities for students. As an international student, you can rest assured that the qualifications you get in leading Malaysian universities will open up a world of opportunities for your career and ensure that the certifications received will be accepted globally.

In the past decade, Malaysia has emerged as the leading higher education hub in the Asia Region and has attracted hundreds and thousands of international students from all around the world. 

The massive growth of becoming the most sought-after study destination in Asia was not possible without the continuous support of the government, and the higher education institutes’ initiatives to establish themselves as quality education providers. 

Universities in Malaysia work extremely hard to produce world-class graduates that have landed their dream jobs and careers by offering top-class education through globally recognised degree programs. 

While public universities in Malaysia are famous for their excellent research programs, private universities, the other hand, have partnerships with renowned universities from the UK, Australia, USA and Canada, which provides students with the option to either study the entire course in Malaysia or transfer to the partner university host country. 

The global ranking of Malaysian universities is proof of the quality of education. For instance,  the world’s most famous university ranking body, known as the Quacquarelli Symonds or QS, released its 2022 ranking in which 1,300 universities from 97 different countries were ranked. A total of 22 universities from Malaysia made it into the QS World University Rankings for the year 2022. 

Excellent Campus Facilities

When considering a university, the facilities play a very important role for students because they want to study at an institute that offers them with quality facilities such classrooms, laboratories, libraries, sports & recreational centres, transportation, cafeteria and so on. 

The reason why it’s important for universities to have excellent facilities is because it enables students to achieve a variety of learning and extra circular activities and it also boosts job satisfaction of lecturers and staff which motivates them to perform their best. 

Malaysian universities have invested heavily to ensure that students receive the best on-campus facilities to make their study journey worthwhile. 

Future Driven Programs​

The institutions work closely with global corporations, international research institutions, and various academic bodies to ensure that students are taught the most up-to-date and future-driven programs which empower students to build lasting and meaningful careers. 

Universities in Malaysia are constantly updating and refreshing the program syllabus, modules and structures. The curriculum is updated regularly to ensure that the course content reflects the latest industry improvements so that students can learn with real-world experience.

Industrial internships are part of the student curriculum, which helps students to gain hands-on experience in their field. The extensive network of international and regional partnerships empowers students to get real-world experience and prepare for the workforce upon graduation.

Safe Environment

Malaysia is considered one of the safest destinations for international students worldwide. With over 200,000 International students from 165+ countries studying in Malaysia, students are cocooned in a multi-national environment. University campuses in Malaysia are fully equipped with modern facilities and on-campus accommodations, and students are covered by health insurance.

Universities in Malaysia offer some of the best modern infrastructure and services to students. Students learn at some of the best campuses, with world-class auditoriums, classrooms, labs & research facilities.

Universities are purpose-built with up-to-date facilities and are consistently upgraded to global benchmarks to ensure students get the best learning experience.

In fact, according to the Global Peace Index (GPI), the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness, Malaysia is ranked as one the top 20 Safest Countries in the world, ahead of the US, UK, Australia and other study-abroad destinations. 

According to the Global Peace Index (GPI), the world’s leading measure of global peacefulness, Malaysia is ranked as one the top 20 Safest Countries in the world, ahead of the US, UK, Australia and other study-abroad destinations. Read More 

International Partnerships

One of the first things you will come across while researching university options in Malaysia will be the sheer number and breadth of global University partners that Malaysian universities offer. Top Malaysian private universities have created a robust network of collaborations and partnerships worldwide, creating numerous student benefits.

Malaysian universities partner with the world’s best universities from the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada and many other international destinations. These partnerships enable students who study in Malaysia to get a much global international experience while studying in Malaysia. Many leading universities also have the option of awarding dual degrees, which means that students can get 2 degrees upon graduation. They can get one degree from a Malaysian university and the other certificate from a partner university, which could be at any other international location. This further enhances credential recognition and International acceptance for those who study in Malaysia.

International students can also save a lot of money while also getting a degree which is globally recognised and benefit from an international learning experience. This network of international partnerships and collaborations also helps students if they plan to go for their masters degree in other countries or even apply for jobs in major international corporations as the qualifications are widely accepted and recognised.

Location

Malaysia is centrally located in Asia. The country is a mere five-hour flight from India, Pakistan, and China and around 8 to 9 hours away from most Middle Eastern countries. Malaysia also offers a very safe environment and a pleasant weather throughout the year. International students can easily settle down in the country and get accustomed to life in Malaysia. There are numerous options for food, and you are bound to find anything as per your palate preference.

Many international students are moving away from their home for the first time in life for their foundation or undergraduate programmes. As a young adult, it is very important to study in a location which provides a safe, secure and pleasant environment that makes your academic life much easier and enjoyable. Malaysia offers the right mix of all the right components for international students.

2. Finding The Right University

If you are looking to study in Malaysia, there are a lot of university options to choose from, and finding the right university and the right program can sometimes feel quite overwhelming. In this part, we discuss some of the most important points that can help you find the right University as per your requirements.​

University Options

When researching whether you should study in Malaysia, there are several factors you should carefully consider and prioritise. Having the proper framework for research will help you narrow down the suitable options and help you pick the best option.

Many international students and parents are often unaware of where to start and what to look for. To find the best university for your particular requirements, you need to do thorough research, identify the right universities, and create a priority list to help narrow down the options.

While there are a lot of different factors which can help in decision-making, an excellent place to start the research in the right direction would be to focus on the following University parameters:

  • International Recognition
  • Global Ranking
  • Campus Facilities
  • Course Specialisation
  • Accommodation Facilities
  • Fees Structure
  • Internships  
The right way to go about research is to find the right balance. As an applicant, you need to be aware of not just surface-level information but also in-depth information. For instance, not all specialisations or available in all universities; some universities can have good international recognition for some programs but only have provisional accreditation for others. Global rankings are also issued for overall parameters and can differ for specific programmes. The most expensive is not always the best quality, option, internship opportunities, accommodation, facilities, global partnerships, transfer, options, and teachers-to-student ratio, or all critical factors that should be carefully considered when deciding which university to apply for.
 
Once you have done your research, you should reach out to professional counsellors who understand the market and options in-depth to help you further enhance your research and help you identify which options can be the most beneficial for you. After all, choosing the right university and program is one of the most critical decisions.

Degree Options

Leading universities in Malaysia offer a wide variety of programmes to choose from. As an international student, you will often come across an extensive range of programs which can sometimes get confusing. So to make the right choice, you must first understand the options and how to choose the correct one.

The top private universities in Malaysia catering to international students will usually have two options. Some programmes are single-degree awards, while others are dual-degree awards. So first, let’s understand the difference between the two.

Single Degree Awards

Single-degree awards, as the name suggests, are degrees which are issued by the university in Malaysia. The final degree certificate that the student receives upon the completion of the program is essentially issued by the host university directly.

However, in Malaysia, we also have some foreign universities with branch campuses operating in Malaysia. These universities will teach the entire program on their Malaysian campus, but the final degree is issued in the name of the parent university from the origin country. So even though, as an international student, you will come to Malaysia and study for your entire degree in Malaysia, your final degree will mention the name of the parent university from the origin country. 

Dual Degree Awards

Several leading private international universities in Malaysia have developed a vast network of international partners who collaborate and participate in various academic efforts. As part of these collaborations, international universities in Malaysia offer dual degree awards to international students. The student can come to Malaysia and join the university, complete the entire program in Malaysia and, upon graduation, receive two separate certificates. One certificate will be issued by the Malaysian Universities where the student is studying, and the partner university will issue the second certificate.

The student does not necessarily have to go to the partner university. They can complete the entire program in Malaysia and still receive two different certificates from the two universities while being in Malaysia for the whole course duration.

Universities can often have different international partners for different programs and specialisations. So when choosing which program to study and which university, you can also look at whether that university offers any dual degree programmes because dual degree awards can provide excellent value for international students. You can save a lot of money while getting an excellent quality education and a great certificate combination, which will be globally recognised.

Overseas Transfers

As mentioned above, leading international universities in Malaysia have a vast network of international partnerships. As part of these collaborations, universities also offer credit transfer options. So essentially, students who study in Malaysia can do part of the programme at a university in Malaysia and then transfer their credits to another partner university anywhere in the world. The overseas transfer options can be a very beneficial option for those students who are planning to get an educational experience from traditional destinations for international education, such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada, et cetera. As an international student, you can save a lot of money for the part of the program and study at a leading university in Malaysia and then transfer your program credits to a partner university.

This way, you will get the best of both worlds, and you will be able to save money for the first phase of your degree and still be able to transfer to another country. Several international students plan to immigrate to countries such as Australia and Canada but may not have enough budget to study at leading universities in those countries; this is where the overseas transfer option can be a fantastic opportunity. You could join a leading university in Malaysia, start your program here and do the majority of your studies in Malaysia and then for the last year; you can transfer your credits to one of the leading partner universities in those other countries.

Since overseas transfer options are an add-on option, you will always have the flexibility to choose when the time comes, so it is not mandatory for you to go ahead with the transfer. Suppose your finances do not permit it. In that case, you could complete the bachelor’s degree in Malaysia and then go for a master’s degree in another country. If your finances permit, you can opt-in for the credit transfer option and graduate from the partner university in the participating countries.

3. Calculating The Cost

When you are exploring to go to any international destination for your higher education, it is very important to fully understand all the costs and do a proper calculation to be fully prepared and understand how much it will cost you.

This will prevent any surprises for you and make your study experience much more smooth and enjoyable without adding any stress from a financial perspective. Understanding all the costs correctly will also ensure that you can properly plan your finances and ensure that you can complete your degree without any hiccups.

In this part, we will help you understand what are the major costs if you are planning to study in Malaysia.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees will be one of the most significant components of your expenditure. Tuition fees and related academic fees will usually be provided by the universities upfront. But not all fee structures are designed similarly. Some universities will clearly put all the academic fees together and charge one total fee amount every semester or year. Other universities will only mention tuition fees prominently and leave additional fees such as facilities, laboratory, and examination fees in other sections. This might lead you to miscalculate the fee, and you might end up choosing an incorrect option.

On average, an international student can expect to pay around US$8,000 – US$12,000 per year for a bachelor’s degree in a leading private university, depending on the program and specialisation. Master’s degrees will cost an international student around US$ 6,000 to US$12,000 from a well-renowned institution.

The tuition fee will vary from one university to another. Also, depending on what specialisation you’re planning to study, what major you are interested in, and if you are planning to go for a dual degree program will all determine how much you pay.

Universities in Malaysia also offer merit-based scholarships for international students. Depending on which curriculum you have studied, what your grades are, and your academic profile will determine how much scholarship you are eligible for. Depending on the university, scholarships can even be up to 40 to 50% of the tuition fees. Some universities offer continuous scholarships for the entire programme duration, which means the scholarship can be renewed on a yearly basis. Students will usually be required to maintain good grades throughout the years to enjoy the scholarship. Universities also offer other discounts for international students. So you are advised to do a thorough research and speak with your admissions advisor to identify which universities are offering the best fees for that academic intake.

To properly calculate the fees, here are some of the common fee items to look for:

  1. Tuition Fees
  2. Application Fees
  3. Visa & EMGS Fees
  4. Administration & Registration Fees

Accommodation

The accommodation expenditure is very affordable in Malaysia comparatively. Depending on the accommodation type, options can start from as little as US$100 per month. International students in Malaysia will usually have two main options for their accommodation.

On-campus Accommodation

Generally, on-campus accommodations will come fully equipped with all the necessary utilities such as internet service, washing machine, fridge, microwave, water heater and television. Rooms have a single bed, wardrobe, study table, chair, and other amenities. Cooking facilities vary between accommodation types. So if you plan to cook your meals, make sure you take the option which allows for cooking. The university accommodation also has on-site cafeterias with a good variety of food. 

On-campus accommodation options will usually be single rooms or shared rooms. Depending on your choices, you can select the option that you prefer. Some single-room options, such as master rooms, will also come with an attached bath, while other medium and small rooms will share the washroom facilities with other students. Depending on which university you have decided to go to, the accommodation layout can be slightly different. 

Private Accommodation

Some students prefer to stay in private accommodations during their stay in Malaysia. Most of the major private international universities in Malaysia are located in and around Kuala Lumpur, so students can find many private accommodation options to choose from. Although it is advisable for international students who are arriving for the first time to start with university accommodation so that they can settle down in the country easily and get a grasp of their surroundings. Once you have acclimatised yourself to the surrounding areas, you can move out to private accommodation. This will also help you to fully understand all the necessary details before you sign any contract at a private residence. 

If you are planning to go for private accommodation from the get-go, you can book a hotel room during your first week of arrival in Malaysia and see all the options first. Once you have checked all the details, you can then move into that accommodation option. This will help you check the area around your accommodation, the facilities, transportation, and other in-house facilities before you make the decision. This can prevent any last-minute surprises for you. After all, settling down smoothly will be very important for you when you arrive in the country.

Food

Your food and housekeeping expenses are estimated to be around US$200-250 per month on average. Students will find many options to choose from, whether you decide to eat out or order in.  Naturally, it would be cheaper to cook and share the cooking expenses with your friends. It’s also possible to have a fast food meal for around US$3 in Malaysia. 

Malaysia has a well-established reputation for being the food capital. You can find all sorts of cuisines around the city, from luxurious fine dining to quick meals at hawkers’ stalls. Whatever you are craving can be found easily. Food delivery services are also available round the clock and will deliver to your doorstep.

Students can also order groceries online via Foodpanda, Grab or even Jaya grocer.

Transportation

Students who stay on campus or near campus may not incur any cost of travelling to and from classes. Universities that offer off-campus accommodation will also provide shuttle bus services throughout the day between the accommodation and the campus, so you will not pay any additional charges for that. If you decide to stay in private accommodation, it is advisable to check if the university shuttle bus services cover that area as well; if not, you can either rely on public transportation or take on demand taxi services such as Grab.

Depending on where your university is located at, you will surely find shopping malls, hypermarkets and other supermarkets in the vicinity. If university is based in and around the Kuala Lumpur area, you should be able to access the Metro system fairly easily.

Public transport (e.g. bus, metro) is very convenient, comfortable, and affordable in Malaysia. For example, one ride costs about US$1.00, while a monthly pass costs US$20 without student discounts.

Getting in and around the city is also quite comfortable. You can either take the KL Metro or travel by Grab (Uber Like Service).

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