The growth in international student enrollment in Malaysia that began in the mid-2000s witnessed an unusual surge around 2015 (World Education Services); Malaysia has thus become a hub for quality but affordable foreign education, ranking 25th of 50 national systems. The Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education’s goal of attracting at least 200,000 international students by 2020 is also gradually getting close to being achieved with over 136,000 international students by the end of 2017. Six (6) Malaysian universities are currently among top 500 and 11 in the top 1000 universities in the world. So, if you plan to study in Malaysia, look out for the following:

Beware of fake private universities and fraudulent recruitment agents


There are a good number of bad and fraudulent institutions who are only out for your money. They are the go-to institutions for those who come to Malaysia to do the wrong stuff. Though it may help to check out the global ranking of any institution online before applying, ranking is not the only reliable means of judging. It is good to check out online reviews, and international rankings, but if possible, get recommendations from credible individuals.

Opportunities abound for O’ / A’Level studies and other pre-tertiary programs


There are many international elementary and high schools running British, American, or Australian curricula. Some also provide foundation programs for some overseas universities. Students who graduate from these foundation programs can get direct placements in these oversea universities in Australia, Britain or the US. There are also several diploma programs in various fields for those who might not be ready for, or interested in bachelor degree programs.

You Can Chose from Public/Private Universities or from Single/Double Degrees


Prospective candidates for tertiary education can choose to study in public or private universities. Bachelor students can study for British or Australian degrees here and get the same certificate as those in the oversea campuses. They can also switch over to the oversea campuses in Britain or Australia later if they so wish. Prospective students can also choose between studying for single or double degrees within the same time frame. Read some reasons to study in Malaysia here

Be Mindful of Applicable and Important Government Policies


Government policies that affect international students are many and include issues like language requirements, visa, family, health status, etc. Some of these can vary depending on the student’s country of origin, and sometimes the level, or course of study. Visa issues are about the most critical of these policies and the great implications must not be lost on prospective students.

You will Need a Student Pass (Visa) to Study


Elementary and high school students can study in licensed Malaysian international schools. In such cases, a ‘guardian visa’ enabling the parent to stay and care for the child (who must be below 18 years), is issued to the parent. However, such passes do not permit employment. To study for an undergraduate degree, irrespective of age or residential status at the point of admission (except for Malaysian PR holders), a student must obtain student pass at the earliest possible time. Visa issues are many and may be country, institution, study level, or course-related, and cannot be fully captured in this post. Best practice will be to get the right information and guidance either from the institution or individuals who are familiar with the system. There are also university-licensed student recruitment agencies like Arrows Transactions Sdn Bhd who provide advisory services as well as individual support to applicants from application and visa processing stages through settling down in Malaysia.

You may also like:

Studying, Working and Family life in Malaysia: Perspectives from an African Mom and Researcher

Nigerian Student makes headline at The Asian University Alliance in China

Student Life and Survival can be Hard, Get Prepared


Something practical to note about student life in Malaysia is that it will be tough studying here if you don’t have some form of sponsorship. Malaysia does not have any standard ‘work-and-study’ policy as obtains in most developed nations; this is one major challenge a foreign student should be prepared for. So, do not be deceived by any recruitment agent promising work-and-study opportunities. Malaysian student pass/visa  does not permit employment and the employment pass cannot be used for studying. So, settle your funding issues before coming over, especially if you will be studying for a Bachelor or a taught Master programme.

There are Many Merit-based Funding and Scholarships Opportunities


Many private universities provide some performance-based tuition discounts which can go up from 10% to 100%. The waiver value is usually determined during pre-admission stages. In many cases, such candidates enjoy the funding throughout their study periods, even up to doctoral study levels, provided they continue to maintain their academic performance. Postgraduate research students can also benefit from various university-based fellowships and government grants, including the Malaysia International Scholarship. Some forms of sponsorship can also be obtained through research grants under supervisors. It is good to note that fundings are mostly merit-based.

Work-and-Study and Post-Study Employment Opportunities are Poor


It may be possible for students to find small jobs, especially during long school breaks, this is however not guaranteed. Things may be a bit relaxed at the capital city in Kuala Lumpur though, BUT, whatever it is, it will not pay tuition, it may supplement upkeep, but that is it. It is important to also note that the taught programme is quite intensive and stressful, and it is near impossible to do any reasonable work during the session while on a taught programme. Research students may benefit from university-based or external grants when they work for their supervisors; this is however a function of what grants the supervisor has access to and what the candidate can contribute. There are also great earning opportunities (without formal employment) for individuals with technology-oriented skills. Post-study employment are also not many, but they are available. Individuals however have to prepare themselves for such future opportunities.

You Can Bring Your Family When Coming to Study in Malaysia


Postgraduate students are allowed to bring their family to stay with them when they come to study in Malaysia. However, current visa policies require that the student resume and register first, and after securing a student pass can proceed to process dependant passes for his family. The candidate need to also prepare for family demands and expenses, especially accommodation, which can be quite high. Families with young kids need to know beforehand that due to Malaysia’s official language being Malay, and the medium of instruction in public schools, it may be difficult to find affordable English schooling options. International schools are extremely expensive and may not be easy to cover in a study grant. Full or paid home-schooling, English-speaking private schools and tuition are other options that can be explored. The student need to check out related government policies.

Research is central to evidence-based decision making. Ask Questions


There are many complicated decisions to make when choosing to study abroad, and though the answers are available, they may not be readily obvious. The personal experiences of others can be among the best information sources. Tuition and other costs vary across institutions, and there are various options regarding living expenses like single or shared campus hostel accommodation, off-campus shared apartment, family accommodation, university guest house, hotel or other hospitality services monthly rental arrangements, etc. are options to choose from. The bottom line is: Do your research. Because, at the end of the day, everything boils down to having the RIGHT INFORMATION.


Dr Bosede studied for her PhD in a Malaysian public university and has useful personal experience with studying (all levels), working and doing business in Malaysia. She is an educationist, a researcher, and representative of Arrows Transactions Sdn Bhd (ATSB), a licensed international student recruitment agency based in Malaysia. ATSB provides student recruitment, and placement services (high school to post-PhD) to many public and private universities in Malaysia and overseas. The agency’s services cover levels. ATSB can be reached on their website
Coronavirus Alert: Do not leave your home. Everyone must stay at home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Pin It on Pinterest

%d bloggers like this: