Malaysia, also known as the Malaysian Federation or Federation of Malaysia, is a federal constitutional monarchy located in Southeast Asia. The capital is Kuala Lumpur, which means ‘muddy Estuary’ in the Malay language, but the federal government is located in Putrajaya.
The official language is Bahasa Malaysia and English is de facto language, being widely spoken and understood.
Malaysia is separated by the South China Sea into two regions: Peninsular Malaysia and East Malaysia (Malaysian Borneo). Peninsular Malaysia shares a land and maritime border with Thailand and maritime borders with Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. East Malaysia shares land and maritime borders with Brunei and Indonesia and a maritime border with the Philippines.
As the country is located near the equator, Malaysia's climate is equatorial, having a hot and humid weather throughout the whole year. The weather is also affected by the mountains, and climate is different in the highlands, the lowlands, and coastal regions. The coasts and lowlands have a sunny climate, while the highlands being cooler and wetter.
Malaysia covers a mix of cultures, having five main ethnic groups, hence several languages are commonly spoken (in addition to English): Chinese, Malay, Indian, Eurasian, the indigenous groups of the peninsula and north Borneo. All ethnicities practice their religions, customs and life style and each group celebrates their public holidays. The main religion is Islam but other religions are represented.
Malaysia's political life is represented by a government headed by the king, elected every five years. The king selects the prime minister from the leading coalition in parliament. Since the country’s independence from the British rule in 1957, Malaysia has been governed by a multi-party coalition.
The country is one of the world's largest exporters of semiconductor devices, electrical devices, and IT and communication products and petroleum is also a major export. Tourism, palm oil, natural rubber and timber are other major industries, contributing to the country’s economy.
The major symbols representing Malaysia are the national car (Proton), and the Petronas Towers (the world's tallest buildings).
- The tuition fees in Malaysian universities range between 8,650 and 25,000 USD/per year, depending on the study field and the university (the private ones have higher tuition fees).
- An average students spends around 450 USD/month for all expenses, without the accommodation.
- Accommodation prices tend to be more expensive but universities in the capital and other large cities, but universities will normally offer on-campus accommodation for around 140-700 USD per semester.
- All international students studying at public or private higher educational institutions are allowed to work part-time for a maximum of 20 hours per week only during semester breaks or holidays.
- In order to align with local customs and etiquette, female students are recommended to wear clothes that cover the legs and upper arms. Shorts are also usually accepted only at the beach.
- Malaysia is mostly famous for being the world’s second largest producer of refined tin.
- The largest cave chamber in the world is the Sarawak Chamber in Gunung Mulu National Park in Sarawak.
- Malaysia’s most famous attractions are: Langkawi, an archipelago of 99 islands in the Andaman Sea, Petronas Twin Towers and the Taman Negara national park, one of the oldest tropical rain forest in the world.
- You should not miss some of the entertaining festivals held in Malaysia, like: National Craft Day Celebration, Malaysia Water Festival or Colours of Malaysia Festival. A tradition during some festivities is the ‘open house’ concept, where friends, family and neighbours are all welcomed to drop by to celebrate.
- In Malaysia, you can see and admire a diversity of traditional and colourful costumes and textiles, such as the Malay baju kebaya, Indian saree and Chinese cheongsam that are still widely worn.
Follow a degree abroad in Malaysia and you will gain an international qualification that is recognised worldwide. International students coming to Malaysia enjoy quality education, an enriching student experience and benefit of low cost of living and affordable tuition fees.
Ranked in the top 20 most preferred study destination in the world among international students by UNESCO, in Malaysia you will be exposed to multiple languages, cultures and traditions and you will find numerous interesting places to explore.
In Malaysia, the higher education system is comprised of colleges, polytechnics and universities (public and private). You can even apply to reputed foreign universities that have set local branch campuses here.
The academic year usually starts in late February or early March and ends up in November, although some universities have adopted the Western university calendar, with the academic year starting in mid-September and finishing in June. Full-time Master’s degrees (MA, MSc/MS) usually last between two and six semesters (each consisting of 12 weeks), although sometimes it depends on the chosen course.
When applying to a private university or foreign university branch, always check whether if they are licensed and approved to accept international students, as according to local regulations, the institutions are required to be authorized by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. In the case of public universities, they can all accept international students; however, they are restricted by a limited number and thus, carefully examine the eligibility of all the prospective students.
Most universities in Malaysia have set-up an easy application procedure that can usually be realised online. Many universities in Malaysia have agreements with representatives and recruitment partners overseas that you can turn to, in order to find more details about the application procedure, especially for undergraduate programmes.
These are the usual documents required in the application process:
1. Completed application form
2. Certified copies of all the academic qualifications (together with English translation where applicable)
3. Copies of IELTS/TOEFL etc. that prove English language proficiency (where applicable)
4. Receipt of the student visa processing fee
5. One (1) full set of photocopy of your passport – include all pages, including blank pages. (The passport must have a validity period of at least 12 months);
6. An updated resume (for purposes of MBA programme applications only);
7. English translations of all documents submitted
8. Completed Medical Report
Before coming to Malaysia, you need to apply for a student pass. The Malaysian higher education institution can apply for the student pass on your behalf, prior to your arrival.
Documents required for applying for a student pass:
With over 100 higher educational institutions, the study options in Malaysia are diverse and you can specialise in almost any field you can imagine.
You can select from arts and design to computing and IT, medicine, law, engineering, languages, economics, environmental studies, business, technology and more.
Joint degree qualifications and dual-award degree certifications are offered by universities that collaborate with partner foreign universities (students graduate with two degrees, one from each university).
English is the main language of instruction at most private higher educational institutions. However, most Bachelor degree courses offered at public universities are taught in the national language, Bahasa Malaysia, while postgraduate studies are usually conducted in English.
You can demonstrate your English language proficiency through one of the following:
International applicants who own the Malay language proficiency certification test for non-Malaysians (also known as Peperiksaan Sijil Kecekapan Bahasa Melayu Bagi Warganegara Asing (SKBMW)) can apply for a programme taught in Bahasa Malaysia.
Some international students may not be able to attend a degree in Malaysia because their previous studies do not match the academic system of the country. To be allowed to take an undergraduate or graduate degree in Malaysia, they will need to enrol in a one-year pre-Bachelor or pre-Master offered by a local university.
Popular foundation degree studies in Malaysia include pre-law degrees, pre-MBA courses, pre-medicine, pre-nursing studies, or other types of international foundation programmes in engineering, economics, finance, social science, science and other types of university pathway programmes. Preparation courses in Malaysia include academic English language training to help international students meet university language requirements for future undergraduate or graduate studies.
Foundation degrees in early years in Malaysia are perfect for increasing your chances of getting accepted to a Malaysian university. Pre-university business schools, law schools or med schools make sure international students develop the skills they need to succeed in the Malaysian academic system. Pre-university education also includes cultural integration classes that help students feel more at home. Some pre-university programmes guarantee enrolment to the institution if students complete the preparation with high grades.
Where can I study a foundation course in Malaysia?
The top Malaysian cities where students can take a foundation year programme include: Kuala Lumpur,Johor Bahru, and more.
The following documents are required for student visa application:
For more information, check the Immigration Department of Malaysian here: