Malaysia is located in the tropics of South East Asia, straddling the South China Sea. Malaysian Government has initiated major educational reforms by formulating new legislations on education to develop world-class quality education and meet the demands and requirements of the new millennium, as well as to affirm the position of English as a second language. The &Malaysian Education* brand draws on deep cultural, religious and political resonances to promote education that emphasizes lifestyle, culture and quality. This includes the value to be gained from its unique multicultural population of Malay, Indian and Chinese, its Islamic religion and its experience of colonialism. According to the calculations by industry analyst, the Malaysian government is well on target to realize its 2010 goal of 100,000 international students.


Education in Malaysia may be obtained from government-sponsored schools, private schools or though homeschooling. It s broadly consists of a set of stages which include:


         Primary education

         Secondary education

         Tertiary education



Primary and secondary educations in government schools are handled by the Ministry of Education (MOE), but policies regarding tertiary education are handled by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE).

Primary Education


There are two main types of public primary schools in Malaysia: national and national-type. National-type schools are further divided into Chinese national-type schools and Tamil national-type schools. By degree of government funding, national schools are government-operated, while national-type schools are mostly government-assisted, though some are government-operated.


The medium of instruction is Malay for national schools, Mandarin and simplified Chinese characters writing for Chinese national-type schools, and Tamil for Tamil national-type schools. Malay and English are compulsory subjects in all schools. All schools use the same syllabus for non-language subjects regardless of the medium of instruction.

Primary education begins at the age of 7 and ends at 12. It consists of six years of education, referred to as Year 1 to Year 6 (also known as Standard 1 to Standard 6).

At the end of primary education, students in national schools are required to undergo a standardized test known as the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) or Primary School Evaluation Test. Students are promoted to the next year regardless of their academic performance.


Secondary Education


Public secondary schools are extensions of the national schools. Students study in five forms. Each form will take a year. However, some students will have to study in "Remove" before they can study in Form 1 because of the poor academic results. At the end of Form 3, the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) or Lower Secondary Evaluation is taken by students. Based on choice, they will be streamed into either the Science stream or Arts stream.

At the end of Form 5, students are required to take the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) or Malaysian Certificate of Education examination, before graduating from secondary school. Students are given a GCE 'O' Level grade for their English paper in addition to the normal English SPM paper. This separate grade is given based on the marks of the essay-writing component of the English paper. The essay section of the English paper is remarked under the supervision of officials from British 'O' Levels examination.

Chinese Independent High Schools

After receiving primary education in national-type primary school, some students from Chinese national-type schools may choose to study in Chinese independent high school. Students in Chinese independent high school study in three junior middle levels and three senior middle levels, similar to the secondary schools systems in mainland China and Taiwan, each level usually takes one year. Like the students in public secondary school, students in Chinese independent high school are streamed into several streams like Science Stream or Art/Commerce Stream in the senior middle levels. The medium of instruction in Chinese independent high schools is Mandarin, and uses simplified Chinese characters in writing.

Students in Chinese independent high schools take standardized tests known as the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) at the end of Junior Middle 3 (UEC-JML/JUEC) and Senior Middle 3 (UEC-SML/SUEC. UEC is run by UCSCAM (United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia).

UEC-SML is recognized as the entrance qualification in many tertiary educational institutions internationally like Singapore, Australia, Taiwan, China and some European countries, as well as most private colleges in Malaysia. However, it is not recognized by the government of Malaysia for entry into public universities. As the government of Malaysia does not recognize the UEC, some Chinese independent high schools provide instructions in the public secondary school syllabus in addition to the independent school syllabus, thus enabling the students to sit for PMR, SPM, or even STPM.


Some students undertake their pre-university studies in private colleges. They may opt for programmes such as the British 'A' Levels programme, the Canadian matriculation programme, the Australian Higher School Certificate (HSC) and South Australia Matriculation (SAM) program, and International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme.

After SPM, students from public secondary school would have a choice of either studying Form 6 which consists of two years of study; or the matriculation (pre-university). If they continue studying in Form 6, they will take the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) or Malaysian Higher School Certificate examination before graduating. Its British equivalent is the General Certificate of Education 'A' Levels examination. STPM is regulated by the Malaysian Examinations Council.

Although it is generally taken by those desiring to attend public universities in Malaysia, STPM is internationally recognized and may also be used to enter private local universities or colleges for undergraduate courses.

Additionally, all students may apply for admission to matriculation which is a one or two-year programme run by the Ministry of Education.


Tertiary Education

Malaysian government formed the Ministry of Higher Education in 2004 to oversee tertiary education in Malaysia. Tertiary education in Malaysian public universities is heavily subsidized by the government. Applicants to public universities must have completed the Malaysia matriculation programme or have an STPM grade. However, excellence in these examinations does not guarantee a place in a public university.

Students also have the choice of attending private institutions of higher learning. Many of these institutions offer courses in cooperation with a foreign institute or university. Some of them are branch campuses of these foreign institutions.

Many private colleges offer programmes whereby the student does part of his degree course here and part of it in the other institution. This method is named "twinning". The nature of these programs is somewhat diverse and ranges from the full "twinning" program where all credits and transcripts are transferable and admission is automatic to programs where the local institution offers an "associate degree" which is accepted at the discretion of the partnering university. In the latter case, acceptance of transcripts and credits is at the discretion of the partner. Some foreign universities and colleges have also set up branch campuses in Malaysia.

Postgraduate Programmes

Postgraduate degrees such as the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) are becoming popular and are offered by both the public universities and the private colleges.

All public and most private universities in Malaysia offer Master degrees in Science, Arts and Commerce either through coursework or research and Doctor of Philosophy degrees through research.

Vocational Programmes and Polytechnics Schools

Besides the university degrees, students also have the option of continuing their education in professional courses. Polytechnics in Malaysia provide courses for diploma level (3 years) and certificate level (2 years).

International Schools

In addition to the Malaysian National Curriculum, Malaysia has many international schools. International schools offer students the opportunity to study the curriculum of another country. These schools mainly cater to the growing expatriate population in the country.




Since beginning 2009, more foreign students have chosen to pursue their tertiary education in Malaysia because of the worldwide recession. Education in Malaysia is relatively cheaper if compared to countries such as UK, Australia, US, Canada and even its neighboring country, Singapore. The Higher Education Ministry is expecting about 75,000 foreign students to take up undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Most of the students are from China, Indonesia and followed by countries from the Middle East.


Tuition Fees

The favourable currency exchange rate in Malaysia means that the cost of education (both tuition and living expenses) is still cheaper than other popular study destinations such as UK, Australia, US and Canada.

Private Institutions

Studying in private colleges and universities in Malaysia are usually more expensive than the Government-funded institutions. However, since there are limited placements for Bachelor degree courses at government funded institutions, the private higher educational institutions are actually playing a greater role in offering study opportunities.

Government Funded Universities and Institutions

Malaysia has local public Universities, university colleges and international university providing undergraduate (First Bachelor Degree) and postgraduate studies (Master's degree and PhD). The general entry requirement for the undergraduate studies is STPM qualification or pre-university programme or its equivalent.

Estimated Total Tuition Fees for Bachelor Degree Programmes Offered by Malaysian Private Colleges & Universities

Type of Programme

Tuition Fees (whole course)

3+0 Foreign Degree Programme (3 每 4 years)

RM 10,000 每 RM 65,000

Foreign University Branch Campus (3 years)

RM 50,000 每 RM 100,000

Private University at Malaysia (3 - 5 years)

RM 30,000 每 RM 250,000

Twinning Degree Programme(2+1 每 2.5 years)

RM 50,000 每 RM 400,000


Estimation of Fee structure in Government Funded Universities and Institutions

Type of Programme

Tuition Fees (whole course)


RM4,000 每 RM15,000 per year for 3 - 4 years


Master : RM4,000 - RM10,000 (whole course)
PhD : RM8,000 to RM20,000 (whole course)


Living Cost

Malaysia has a reasonable cost of living. Accommodation, rent, (depending on the locality and the type of boarding required) are reasonable while other expenses such as food, transportation, laundry and other essentials are estimated to be around RM500 to RM600 per month, based on an average lifestyle.




General rules and regulations:

         A student must abide by Malaysian law at all times.

         A student has committed a case of misconduct when:

   He is found guilty of criminal charges by the court;

   He is involved in any jobs, trades or the like, on part-time or full time basis, which could affect his studies.

         A student is to abide by all the rules and regulations that are enforced by the institution.

         A student must at all times respect the culture, norms and beliefs of the locals.


Student pass

         Any international student who wishes to study in Malaysia is required to obtain a Student Pass.

         Application has to be made through the respective Educational Institution prior to entry.


Permission to work part-time

         A student is permitted to do part-time work for 20 hours per week during semester breaks or any holiday exceeding 7 days.

         A student is permitted to work part-time in Restaurants, Petrol Kiosks, Mini Markets and Hotels only (excluding singer, masseur, musician and other activities deemed immoral) as long as the student pass remains valid.

         Students are not permitted to work as cashier.

         Permission to work part-time is extendable by the Immigration Department depending on the student*s attendance and academic reports.

         Application from students studying in Private Higher Educational Institutions must be submitted by the respective institutions to the Immigration headquarters in Putrajaya. While for students from Public Higher Educational Institutions, application can be submitted to the nearest Immigration Office.


Drugs and poison

It is considered a serious offence if a student:

         is found to be in possession of any kind of drugs or poisons.

         is found to provide, to supply, to distribute, to offer or to prepare any of the above drugs or poisons to other parties;

         is involved in drug abuse of any kind.


Weapons and dangerous materials

It is considered a serious offence if a student:

   is found to be in possession or in supervision of any dangerous weapons or explosive materials.


Traffic Rules and Regulations

A student who owns or uses any type of vehicle must:

   fulfill the requirements under the Road Transportation Act 1987 and all subsections under the Act, on campus and public roads.


Use of force

It is considered an offence if a student:

   partakes in any kind of activities that involve force, extortion, molestation, harassment or any form of disturbance among themselves or towards others;

   involves directly in any form of ragging or bullying, or abuse or the like inside or outside of campus;

   uses force, aggression or threat to cause hurt to others;

   engages in any physical aggression such as riots or fights, or commits an assault on any parties;

   exhibits verbal and/or physical behavior of a racist or prejudiced nature towards any other member of the community inside or outside the campus.



It is considered a serious offence if any groups of students or organizations of students plan, organize, attend or take part in any assembly or meeting at any given places without permission from the relevant authorities.



Academic integrity

A student is not allowed any form of falsification and plagiarism i.e. copying or allowing people to copy or plagiarize during exams, lab assignments, preparation of coursework or thesis and the like. A student is to abide by all the rules and regulations that are enforced in the institution.



         Students who reside in an on-campus residence are to abide by the rules of accommodation set by their respective institutions.

         Students who reside off-campus need to take on an even greater obligation of respecting the neighborhood standards and watching out for neighbors.

         Students are advised not to cause trouble or emit noises in any way that are of disturbance to others.


Safety and Emergency

         Be safety conscious, especially in the first few weeks as you get used to your new environment and culture.

         Take extra care of your safety in high risk areas, especially if you need to go out late at night.

         If you are encountered with a real emergency, the first point of contact would be the International Office or your contact at your Institution.

         Call 999 - police, ambulance, fire stations and civil defense rescue units if you are in trouble. Please note that the misuse of this communication network will result a fine or jail, or both.

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