Student Info & Guide

Study Opportunities at Private Higher Educational Institutions (PHEIs)

by StudyMalaysia.com on March 7, 2015 | Private Education Routes

Introduction

Private Higher Educational Institutions (PHEIs) (also known as Institut Pengajian Tinggi Swasta (IPTS)) play an important role alongside public universities in the provision of tertiary education in Malaysia.

Although PHEIs are fully-funded by the private sector, they fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) and are governed by various legislation to ensure the provision of quality education. The legislation include:

  1. The Private Higher Education Institutions Act 1996
  2. The National Council of Higher Education Act 1996
  3. The Malaysian Qualifications Agency Act 2007
  4. The National Higher Education Fund Corporation Act, 1997 (Amendment 2000)
  5. The Private Higher Educational Institutions (Amendment) Act 2009

The majority of PHEIs use English as the medium of instruction for their courses. Besides offering education opportunities to Malaysian students, these institutions have also become a very popular choice among many international students.

At the beginning of 2011, there were 452 PHEIs approved by MOHE and are categorised as below:

Number of PHEIs as at Dec 2010
Categories of PHEIs Number
- University
- University College
- Foreign University Branch Campus
23
21
5
Non-university status 403
TOTAL 452

Source: www.mohe.gov.my

Student Enrolment as at Dec 2010
Type of PHEI Student Enrolment
Malaysian International Total
Private Universities 193,086 15,859 208,945
Foreign University Branch Campuses 13,280 3,730 17,010
University Colleges 77,343 16,295 93,638
Non-university status institutions (e.g. private colleges and institutes) 195,215 26,821 222,036
Grand Total 478,924 62,705 541,629

The five foreign university branch campuses in Malaysia offer internationally-recognised foreign degree qualifications whilst the 44 private universities and university colleges offer home-grown degree programmes and 3+0 foreign university degree programmes.

There are some 35 non-university status PHEIs (i.e. private colleges) that conduct 3+0 foreign university degree programmes in collaboration with overseas host universities besides awarding their own certificate and diploma level qualifications to students. Many of these PHEIs also have twinning degree arrangements (commonly known as 2+1) with reputable foreign universities all over the world.

At the beginning of 2011, there were more than 541,629 students studying in PHEIs and about 58,294 (approximately 10% of the total) were international students pursuing tertiary programmes and English language courses.

Malaysia's private higher education is unique and renowned because it offers students a wide variety of study options and a choice of both local and foreign university qualifications of international standing to suit individual preferences.

ABOUT PHEIs

MOHE Approvals and Other Requirements

Private higher educational institutions (PHEIs) which offer tertiary education must be approved by the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) to operate as required by Malaysian laws.

In addition to obtaining the approval to operate, the courses offered by PHEIs leading to the award of certificate, diploma and degree qualifications need to be recognised by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) through two distinct processes i.e. provisional accreditation and accreditation which assures the quality of these courses. Without MQA's accreditation, any qualification awarded to students by PHEIs is considered a breach of Malaysian education law. Therefore, it is advisable for students to ensure that the course they intend to enrol for is endorsed by MQA. For a list of approved PHEIs and accredited courses, click on the Malaysian Qualifications Register at www.mqa.gov.my.

An important point to note is that not all PHEIs in Malaysia, although approved by MOHE, are allowed to enrol international students. In order to do so, PHEIs require an additional licence or approval from the Ministry of Home Affairs Malaysia (Immigration Department).

Categories of PHEIs

PHEIs consist of the following categories:
  1. Non-university status institutions, i.e.
    - Private colleges
    - Private institutions
  2. University status institutions, i.e.
    - Private universities
    - Private university colleges
    - Foreign university branch campuses

Types of Qualifications Awarded

PHEIs conduct a wide range of courses and award qualifications ranging from certificate, diploma, degree to doctoral qualifications:

  • Private Colleges
    - Pre-university programmes (internal and external qualifications)
    - Internal or self-designed certificate and diploma qualifications
    - Foreign university degree programmes in collaboration with partner-universities
    - External professional and semi-professional examinations
  • Private Universities and University Colleges
    - University foundation courses
    - Internal diploma and degree qualifications as well as foreign university degrees
    programmes in collaboration with partner-universities
  • Branch Campuses of Foreign Universities
    - Degree qualifications identical to that of the foreign university

PHEIs play a significant role in fulfilling the needs of tertiary education for many local and international students. The courses offered are open to Malaysian and international students that possess SPM / Senior Middle III / STPM / GCE O Levels / STPM / GCE A-Levels or other equivalent qualifications. Students can also select either full-time or part-time study, or the distance learning mode in obtaining their qualification affordably.

Admission Requirements

PHEIs will require some basic academic qualifications from applicants before considering their applications for the respective study programmes. The general entry requirement to pursue diploma programmes is SPM or GCE O Level with a minimum of 3 credits, whereas students with STPM qualifications or its equivalent such as GCE A Levels, University Foundation Programme, SAM, and CPU are allowed to enter Year 1 of an undergraduate programme.

General Entry Requirements for Pre-University / Diploma / Degree Programmes
Education Level General Entry Requirement
University Foundation Programme SPM/GSCE O Level with 5 credits, or its equivalent
Certificate Level SPM/ GSCE O Level with 1 credit, or its equivalent
Diploma Level SPM/ GSCE O Level with 3 credits, or its equivalent
Year 1 of Bachelor’s Degree STPM /GCE A Level + English Proficiency or its equivalent

English Proficiency Requirement

Proficiency in the English language is another requirement by PHEIs. Students are expected to have adequate knowledge and understanding of English, as this is the language of instruction at private colleges and universities. Various international examinations such as GCE 1119, MUET (Malaysia University English Test), TOEFL and IELTS are generally accepted for bachelor's degree programmes.

Accepted Scores of English Proficiency Standard
English Proficiency Test Accepted Scores for First Degree Programmes
TOEFL 173 to 250 on a new computer administered test (equivalent to a score of 500 to 600 on the old paper-based test format)
IELTS 6.0 to 7.0
MUET SPM/ GSCE O Level with 3 credits, or its equivalent

Application Procedures

Students with SPM / Senior Middle III / STPM / GCE 'O' Levels / GCE 'A' Levels or other equivalent qualifications must APPLY DIRECTLY to the institutions concerned. Unlike the enrolment into public universities at the diploma and bachelor's degree levels, there is no centralised enrolment agency that governs the intake of students into private institutions.

For any online enquiry on education opportunities in Malaysia, email us here your enquiry.

Higher Education Qualification Levels under MQA

Under the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), the levels of higher education qualification detailed in the Malaysian Qualification Framework (MQF) include:

  1. Levels 1 to 3 - These include skill certificates awarded by skill training institutes; vocational and technical certificates awarded by Community Colleges and Polytechnics; as well as certificates (Level 3 only) awarded by the Higher Education sector.
  2. Levels 4 and 5 - These levels include diplomas and advanced diplomas (general degree) respectively, awarded by the Technical and Vocational sector, the Skills sector as well as the Higher Education sector.
  3. Levels 6 to 8 - Level 6 is generally first degrees, i.e. bachelor degrees with honours while Level 7 is for master degrees and Level 8 for PhD / doctoral degrees. Under the lifelong learning category, there are graduate certificates and diplomas as well as postgraduate certificates and diplomas.

The framework specifies that a programme is required to achieve the following minimum credits before an academic qualification can be awarded, e.g. certificate (60 credits), diploma (90 credits), bachelor degree (120 credits) and taught master's degree (40 credits). Master's degrees and PhD obtained by research do not have credit values.

The various levels of higher education qualifications based on the MQF can be defined as follows:

Malaysian Higher Education Qualification Levels and Minimum Number of Credits Required
Education levels Higher education qualification Minimum credit required for the award of qualification
8 Doctoral No given credit value
7

Research master’s

No given credit value
Fully or partly taught master’s 40
Postgraduate diploma 30
Postgraduate certificate 20
6 Bachelor’s degree 120
Graduate diploma 60
Graduate certificate 30
5 Advanced diploma 40
4 Diploma 90
1-3 Certificate 60
Skills certificate According to the skill and levels

Source: MQA

Pathways to Tertiary Education - An Overview

The table below shows the study pathways at tertiary level for students with SPM and STPM qualifications or its equivalent.

Study Pathway for SPM and STPM Qualification Holders or its Equivalent

Study Pathway for SPM and STPM Qualification Holders or its Equivalent
Study Pathway for SPM and STPM Qualification Holders or its Equivalent
Graphic by Challenger Concept

Study Opportunities

1. Studying at PHEIs for pre-university programmes

Pre-university programmes in Malaysia can be grouped into three categories:

  1. International pre-university qualifications by an external Examining Board
  2. A university's internal foundation programme
  3. Malaysian post-secondary qualifications by the Malaysian Examination Board
Examples of Pre-university Programmes offered by PHEIs
Pre-University Qualification Qualification Awarded by Examination Body from Country of Origin
Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) Malaysia
Matriculation Certificate, Ministry of Education Malaysia Malaysia
University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) for A and AS Levels UK
Edexcel International for London Examinations Board GCE A Levels UK
South Australian Matriculation (SAM) Australia
Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) Australia
New South Wales High School Certificate Australia
Canadian Pre-University Programme (CPU) Canada
International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme International Board
Universities’ Internal Degree Foundation Courses Depends on the university’s country of original

There are many choices of pre-university qualifications for students to choose from that are awarded by examining boards from the UK, Australia or Canada. Each pre-university qualification has its own assessment method and duration of study. The table below indicates their differences.

A Comparison (Assessment Method & duration) between Various Types of Pre-university Programmes
Types of Pre-Universities Assessment Method Duration
STPM, Malaysia 100% External Exam 18 months
Matriculation Certificate, Ministry of Education Malaysia 100%  Internal Assessment &
Final Exam
12 months
SAM, Australia 50% Internal Assessment
50% External
10 months
AUSMAT, Australia 50% Internal Assessment
50% External Exam
10 months
CPU, Canada Australia 12 months
IB, International 30% Internal Assessment
70% External Exam
24 months
A-Levels, UK 100% External Exam 15-18 months
University’s Internal Programme 100% Internal Assessment
& Final Exam
12 months

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team

Pre-Tertiary Education - Admission Requirements

The table below indicates examples of admission requirements for Malaysian and international students (English competency is required).

Some Examples of Entry Requirements for Pre-Tertiary Education
Student's Country of Origin Academic Qualification and Minimum Admission Requirements for Pre-University Programmes
Malaysia Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia, SPM (Malaysian Certificate of Education equivalent to 'O' Level) - 5 credits (including English)
Australia Completion of Senior Secondary School or equivalent (Year 11)
Brunei GCE (Ordinary Level) - Credit in 4 relevant subjects and English competency
Bangladesh
  • Completion of Secondary School Certificate (SSC) with a minimum Grade Point average of 3.5 (60-69%) or GCE 'O' Level (credit in 4 relevant subjects and English competency)
  • Completion of the Bangladesh Secondary School Certificate (SSC) with a minimum Grade Point average of 3.5 (60-69%), separate evidence or English competency is required or
  • GCE 'O' Level - credit in 4 relevant academic subjects and English competency
P.R.China Complete Senior Middle 2 (Year 11)
Fiji and Pacific Islands Fiji School Leaving Cert - aggregate of 230 for best 4 subjects
Hong Kong HKCEE - Grade D in 4 subjects
Cambodia Upper Secondary School Certificate (Baccalaureate) - pass with satisfactory grades in relevant subjects
India Completion of the All India Secondary School Certificate awarded by The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) with an average of 60% in four subjects, one of which must be English (with 60% or better) or with separate evidence of competence in English or GCE 'O' Level - credit in 4 relevant academic subjects and English competency
Indonesia Sekolah Menengah Umum 2 (SMU 2) - A minimum average grade of 7.5
Or SMU 3 - average grade 7.0
Iran National High Secondary School Diploma / Secondary School Diploma - pass with satisfactory grades in relevant subjects
Japan Upper Secondary School Leaving Certificate - grade C in 5 subjects
Maldives GCE (Ordinary Level) - A minimum of 5 credits
Mauritius GCE (Ordinary Level) - A minimum of 5 credits
Myanmar Basic Education High School Certificate (BEHS)
(e.g. Matriculation) - Minimum average grade of 60% or better for all subjects
Nepal Higher Secondary Certificate - 1st Division
Oman Thanawiya Amma (Secondary School Leaving Certificate) - pass with satisfactory grades in relevant subjects
Pakistan Completion of the Secondary School Certificate awarded by The Federal Board of Intermediate and Secondary Education from Pakistan with an average of 60% in four (4) academic subjects, and at least 60% in English or GCE 'O' Level - credit in 4 relevant academic subjects and English competency
Philippines High School Diploma - with pass in University Admission
Saudi Arabia General Secondary Education Certificate
Singapore GCE 'O' Level - credit in 4 relevant subjects and English competency
South Africa South Africa Senior Certificate - pass with satisfactory grades in relevant subjects
Republic of Korea Senior High School Leaving Cert - grade C in 5 subjects
Macau HKCEE - grade D in 4 subjects
Sri Lanka GCE 'O' Level - credit in 4 relevant subjects and English competency
Taiwan High School Leaving Cert - grade C in 5 subjects
Thailand Matayom 6 - grade 2.5 or above in relevant subjects
Matayom 6 - grade 3.0 or above in relevant vocational subjects
United Arab Emirates General Secondary Education Certificate
Vietnam Year 12 - grade 7.0 average or
Year 11 - grade 7.5 average
Yemen Al-Thanawiya (General Secondary Education Certificate) - pass with satisfactory grades in relevant subjects

Source: Prospectus of Taylor's College and Curtin University Sarawak Campus Malaysia

(Please note that the minimum academic requirements stated here is merely a guide. Students are advised to contact the individual institutions for enrolment requirements as well as other terms and conditions.)

The Cost of Pre-University Education

Besides the tuition fees for any university programme, students also need to pay for others fees which include registration fee, deposit, computer/science laboratory fees, library fees and other incidental costs. Other expenses to consider are expenses for food, transport, stationery, accommodation, etc.

Many international students make Malaysia their destination when pursuing their education as Malaysia offers a wonderful lifestyle and relatively low tuition fees. The table below shows the breakdown of tuition fees for pre-university and foundation programmes.

Estimated Tuition Fees for University Foundation or Pre-University Studies at PHEIs
Pre-University Studies Estimated Tuition Fee Duration
External Qualifications
GCE 'A' Level, UK RM15,000 - RM25,000
(USD4,690 - USD7,810)
15-18 months
Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT), Australia RM11,000 - RM21,000
(USD3,440 – USD6,560)
10 months
South Australian Matriculation (SAM), Australia RM21,000 - RM25,000
(USD6,560 - USD7,810)
10 months
Canadian Pre-U, Canada RM19,000 - RM29,000
(USD5,940 - USD9,060)
12 months
University of New South Wales (UNSW) Foundation Year RM14,000 - RM23,000
USD4,375 - USD7,190)
12 months
International Baccalaureate Diploma RM79,000.00
(USD9,062)
24 months
Internal Qualifications
University Foundation Studies/Matriculation RM9,000 - RM15,000
(USD2,810 - USD4,690)
10 - 12  months

Note: All figures are estimates and only a guideline Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (8th International Edition)
Currency Conversion Rate: USD1=RM3.20, 1A$=RM3.00, 1£=RM4.80

2. Studying at PHEIs for Internally Developed Certificate and Diploma Qualifications

Private colleges are the main providers of certificate and diploma level programmes even though some private universities also offer such programmes at these levels. These institutions develop and award their own certificate and diploma level qualifications to students.

The general entry requirement of these programmes is SPM or its equivalent. The greatest strength of internally-developed diploma level programmes offered by PHEIs is that they are recognised and granted with 'advance standing' entry status by many of the local private universities and foreign universities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, Germany, China, Taiwan and the USA, for their entry into these universities' bachelor degree programmes. The other plus factor is that the course is conducted in English, an international language used by many communities and countries globally.

The PHEIs' unique and long established inter-institutional collaborative arrangements with foreign partner-universities have created pathways for students to acquire foreign university degree qualifications in a much more cost-effective manner. Thousands of diploma graduates have gone to foreign universities to finish the final part of their bachelor degree programmes, although there are also many who choose to remain in Malaysia to complete their degrees.

The curriculum and examination of this programme are set by the local private colleges, following the quality criteria set by the Ministry of Higher Education and quality assurance agency, Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and validated or moderated by their foreign collaborative university partners. Students can study either full-time or part-time at the premises of the private college.

Entry Requirements for Students Seeking to Pursue Certificate / Diploma-level Programmes

The table below provides an overview of the general entry requirements for certificate as well as diploma-level programmes offered by private colleges in Malaysia.

General Entry Requirements for Certificate and Diploma-level Programmes
Education Level General Entry Requirement
Certificate Level SPM / GSCE O Level with one credit, or its equivalent
Diploma Level SPM / GSCE O Level with three credits, or its equivalent
Brunei GCE (Ordinary Level) - Credit in 4 relevant subjects and English competency

3. Studying at PHEIs for bachelor degrees and other professional qualifications

Types of Bachelor Degree Programmes in Malaysia

Private higher educational institutions (PHEIs) provide a wide spectrum of study options for students intending to pursue bachelor degree programmes in Malaysia. They are:

1. Foreign university branch campuses located in Malaysia.
These universities offer identical degrees to those at the main campus overseas. Students studying at the Malaysian campus will be awarded the same qualifications as that of their foreign counterpart.

Foreign University Branch Campuses in Malaysia
Name of Branch Campus and year established in Malaysia Country of Origin
Monash University Malaysia, 1998 Australia
Curtin University Sarawak Campus, Malaysia, 1999 Australia
The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, 2000 UK
Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, 2004 Australia
Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, 2009 UK

Cost of Study

Estimated Tuition Fees per Course for Bachelor's Degree at Foreign University Branch Campuses located in Malaysia
Areas of Study Estimated Tuition Fee Duration of Study
Business RM50,000 – RM85,000
(USD15,600 – USD26,500)
3 years
Engineering RM69,000 – RM115,000
(USD21,500 – USD36,000)
(4 yrs for Aust Degree)
(3 yrs for UK Degree )
IT RM60,000 – RM90,000
(USD18,700 – USD28,100)
3 years
Medicine RM45,000
(USD 140,625)
5 Years
Hospitality & Tourism RM183,000
(USD57,100)
4 Years

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition)
Note: All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline
Estimated currency exchange rate: USD1 = RM3.20

2. Malaysian home-grown private higher educational institutions.
These PHEIs include private universities and university colleges that offer home-grown degree qualifications, twinning degree programmes (such as 2+1 and 3+0 arrangements), credit transfer programmes (such as American degree programme, UK/Australia credit transfer programmes), and external degree programmes leading to award of a bachelor's degree from foreign universities.

Home grown programmes
These programmes are conducted by Malaysian universities and university colleges that award their own degree qualifications to students who have completed their studies and fulfilled the requirements set by the university's academic board.

Cost of Study

Estimated Tuition Fees Per Course for Bachelor's Degree via Malaysian Private Universities
Areas of Study Estimated Tuition Fee Duration of Study
Business RM33,000 – RM45,000
(USD10,300 – USD14,000)
3 years
Engineering RM50,000 – RM60,000
(USD15,600 – USD18,700)
4 years
IT RM35,000 – RM50,000
(USD11,000 – USD15,600)
3 years
Medicine RM100,000 – RM140,000
(USD31,200 –USD43,700)
4 Years
Hospitality & Tourism RM35,000 – RM60,000
(USD11,000 – USD18,700)
3 Years

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (8th International Edition)
Currency Conversion Rate: USD1=RM3.20
Note: All figures are estimates only and subject to change

Twinning degree programmes
Many PHEIs in Malaysia collaborate with reputable universities from countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand and Australia in providing '2+1' and '1+2' twinning degree arrangements. In a twinning programme, students who have registered at a Malaysian partner institution are also regarded as students of the host university. They will undergo the same course curriculum as the students in the host country and complete the remaining year(s) at the partner university overseas. Students will be awarded the foreign university's qualification.

Cost of Study

Estimated Tuition Fees for 2+1 Twinning Degree Programmes
Areas of Study Estimated Tuition Fees (RM/USD) (2 years in Malaysia + 1 year in Australia or UK) Total Cost
Law  Degree
(2+1 twinning degree)     
RM42,188 to RM53,070
(2 years in Malaysia) + £8000 to £15,400 (1 year in the UK)
Therefore total estimated tuition fee for 3 years is as low as RM80,400 (USD25,125)
Pharmacy Degree (2+2 twinning degree)   RM70,000 to RM92,000
(2 years in Malaysia) + £18,000 to £25,716  (2 years in the UK)
Therefore total estimated  tuition fee for 4 years is as low as RM156,400 (USD48,875)

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (8th International Edition)
Note: All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline
Estimated currency exchange rate: USD1 = RM3.20

'3+0' degree programmes
The '3+0' programme is an extension of the '2+1' twinning programme. In this arrangement, partner universities from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and France allow students to complete all three years of the degree at a Malaysian institution. Students doing the '3+0' degree programme undergo the same syllabus and obtain the same qualifications as the students in the host university overseas.

Cost of Study

Estimated Tuition Fees Per Course for 3+0 Degree Programmes via Private Colleges/Private Universities
Areas of Study Estimated Tuition Fee Duration of Study
Business RM43,000 – RM75,000
(USD13,400 – USD23,400)
3 years
Engineering RM46,000 – RM65,000
for a 3-year duration
(USD14,400 – USD20,300)
(4 yrs for Aust Degree)
(3 yrs for UK Degree)
IT RM45,000 – RM65,000
(USD14,000 – USD20,300)
3 years
Hospitality & Tourism RM73,000
(USD22,800)
3 Years
Medicine RM300,000
(USD93,750)
5 Years
Pharmacy RM100,000
(USD31,250)
4 Years

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition)
Currency Conversion Rate: USD1=RM3.20
Note: All figures are estimates only and subject to change

Credit transfer degree programmes
Under a credit transfer programme, students pursue a bachelor's degree in Malaysia for an average of two years at a PHEI before moving on to their choice of university in the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia or Canada to complete the remaining part of the degree programme. Some examples of credit transfer degree programmes are:

- American Degree Transfer Programme
- Australian Degree Transfer Programme
- UK Degree Transfer Programme

About American Transfer Degree Programmes
Under this arrangement, SPM students pursue a 4-year American bachelor degree in Malaysia for an average of two years (or 50 to 60 credits) before moving on to their choice of university in America to complete the remaining part of the degree programme (An American degree usually take 120 credits).

The Malaysian institution is not bound to a particular American university.

Similarly, no American university is obliged to take in a student under the credit transfer scheme unless the American university is satisfied with the student's entry qualifications. This is because each American university sets its own requirements and formulates its own courses.

The general entry requirement for a 4-year American degree transfer program is SPM with 5 credits.

Cost of Study

Estimated Tuition Fees for American Degree Transfer Programme
Programme Duration Tuition Fee: Malaysia +US
American Degree Transfer Program 2+2 (US) Years RM30,000 – RM40,000 for 2 years in Malaysia + USD13,000 – USD40,000  per year in USA
Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition)
Note: All figures are estimates only and subject to change

The degree pathway through 'Advanced Standing' Entry
An 'Advanced Standing Programme' means that the respective private college's internal diploma programme is validated and moderated with 'advanced standing' entry status by one or more foreign universities.

Students who have completed the diploma are accepted at the second or third year of the partner universities' bachelor degree programmes overseas, subject to the articulation agreements.

External Degree
Through this programme, a student in Malaysia will become an 'external' student of the overseas university while studying in Malaysia.

The overseas university sets the entry requirements, syllabus and examinations.

However, the overseas university does not play an active role in teaching the students. The PHEI in Malaysia provides tutorial support to prepare students for exams and students sit for university exams at an approved centre in Malaysia.

This is yet another avenue in acquiring a foreign university bachelor's degree qualification without leaving Malaysia.

Some Examples of External Degree Programmes
Name of Programme Awarding University Duration Estimated Tuition Fees
B.Sc.(Hons) (Accounting & Finance) (External Programme) University of London, UK 3 years after A-Levels RM28,800
(USD8,750) per course
LL.B (External Programme) University of London, UK 3 years after A-Levels RM51,000
(USD15,900) per course

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition)
Note: All figures are estimates only and subject to change

An Overview of Study Routes in PHEIs for Bachelor's Degree Level
table2-19.jpg
Graphic by Challenger Concept

Academic Qualifications for Entry into Bachelor Degree Programme

Post-secondary qualifications such as STPM (Malaysia), GCE A-levels, university foundation or its equivalent are the basic entry requirements accepted for year one of bachelor degree programmes.

The list below provides a list of post-secondary academic qualifications which are equivalent to Malaysia's STPM (High School Certificate). The list is by no means exhaustive. For more information, please visit the website of the national quality assurance agency at www.mqa.gov.my

List of Pre-University Qualification from selected Countries which are Equivalent to Malaysia
Country of Origin Foreign Qualification which are Equivalent to STPM
Australia • Australian Year 12
• South Australian Matriculation (SAM)
• Tertiary Entrance Education (TEE)
• New South Wales: Higher School Certificate (HSC)
• Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE)
• Western Australia Certificate of Education (WACE), etc
Bahrain Tawjahiya (Secondary School Leaving Certificate)
Brunei Darussalam Cambridge GCE A Level
  Matriculation
Cambodia Upper Secondary (Grade 12)
Cameroon Cameroon GCE A level
Canada Canadian Grade 12
  Canadian Pre-University (CPU)/Ontario: Ontario Secondary School Diploma
China Senior High School Diploma
Denmark Bevis for Studentereksamen
  Bevis for Højere Forberedelseseksamen (HF)
Egypt Thanaweya A’ama (Certificate of General Secondary Education)
  Secondary Education Certificate of Al-Azhar
France Baccalaureát + Grandes Ecoles (entrance examination)
Germany Zeugnis der Reife / Zeugnis der Allgemeinen Hochschulreife / Abitur
Ghana West African Higher School Certificate / GCE A Level
  Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (since 1993)
Gambia West African Examinations Council GCE A level
Hong Kong Hong Kong Advanced Level Examination (HKALE)
India
  • All India Senior School Certificate (awarded by Central Board of Secondary Education)
  • Higher Secondary Course Certificate / Higher Secondary School Certificates / Higher Secondary Certificate / Higher School Certificate (awarded on completion of Standard XII)
  • Pre-Medical from Punjab University Pre-University Examination from Mahatma Gandhi University
  • Certificate of Second Year Pre-University Examination issued by Education Department of the Government of Karnataka
  • Intermediate Public Examination Year conducted by the Board of Intermediate Education, Hyderabad, India
  • Higher Secondary Examination (Class XII) Certificate, Government of Kerala, Board of Higher Secondary Examination
  • Intermediate Pass Certificate (cum Memorandum of Marks), Board of Intermediate Education, Andhra Pradesh
  • Marks Sheet, Bihar Intermediate Education Council, Patna
  • Senior Secondary School Examination, National Institute of Open Schooling (formerly known as National Open School)
Indonesia Sekolah Menengah Umum (SMU) 3 / Sekolah Menengah Atas (SMA) / Madrasah Aliyah
Iran High School Diploma (on completion Grade 12) + KONKUR (university entrance examination)
Iraq Sixth Form Baccalauréat / Certificate of Preparatory Education
Italy Diploma di Maturità (Classica/Scientifica/Tecnica/ Linguistica/Professionale/Magistrale/Artistica) (up until 1999)
  Esame di Stato (from 1999)
Japan Upper Secondary School Leaving Certificate (Kotogakko Sotsugyo Shomeisho)
Jordan Tawjihi (General Secondary Education Certificate)
Kenya East African Advanced Certificate of Education (EAACE) / Kenya Advanced Certificate of Education (KACE) (up to1988)
  Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE)
Korea-South Korea High School Diploma
Kuwait Shahadat-al-thanawia-al-a’ama (General Secondary School Certificate)
Laos Baccalauréat
Liberia Senior High School Certificate
Libya Secondary School Certificate / Secondary Education Certificate
Macao Cambridge Overseas Higher School Certificate (COHSC) / GCE Advanced
Liberia Senior High School Certificate
Libya Secondary School Certificate / Secondary Education Certificate
Macao Cambridge Overseas Higher School Certificate (COHSC) / GCE Advanced
  Ensino Secundário Complementar
Mauritius Cambridge Overseas Higher School Certificate / GCE A Level
Morocco Diplôme du Baccalaureat
   
Namibia HIGCSE (Higher International General Certificate of Secondary Education) Cambridge Overseas Higher School Certificate (COHSC) / GCE A Level
Nepal Higher Secondary Education Certificate (HSEC)
Netherlands Pre-University Education / University Preparatory Education / Voorbereidend Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (VWO) Diplomas
New Zealand National Certificate in Educational Achievement Level 3 (NCEA)
Niger Baccalauréat / Diplôme de Bachelier de I'Enseignement du Second Degré
Nigeria • West African GCE A Level (up to 1989)
• West African Examinations Council Senior School Certificate (WAEC Senior School Certificate) / NECO (Nigerian Examination Council) (since 1989)
Oman Thanawiya amma (Secondary School Leaving Certificate / General Secondary School Certificate) One year Certificate / Foundation Year
Pakistan Higher Secondary Certificate (HSC) / Intermediate
Palestine Tawjihi (Certificate of General Secondary Education Examination)
Poland Swiadectwo Dojrzalo?ci / Matura
Qatar A l-Thanawaya Al-Amah (General Secondary School Certificate)
Russia Attestat (Certificate of Secondary Education at Grade 11)
Saudi Arabia Tawjihiyah (General Secondary Education Certificate)
Scotland Scottish Certificate of Education (SCE) HIGHER GRADE, Scottish Examination Board
Sierra Leone Senior School Certificate
Singapore Singapore Cambridge GCE A level
Sri Lanka Sri Lankan General Certificate of Education (Advanced Level)
South Africa Senior Certificate (with matriculation endorsement)
Somalia Secondary School Leaving Certificate
Spain Selectividad
Sudan Sudan School Certificate (formerly called the Secondary School Certificate or Higher Secondary School Certificate)
Sweden Avgangsbetyg / Slutbetyg fran Gymnasieskola (previously Studentexamen) (Upper Secondary School Leaving Certificate)
Taiwan Senior High School Leaving Certificate
Thailand Maw 6 with a score of 50% or above / Upper Secondary School Certificate
United Arab Emirates Tawjihiyya (General and Religious)
United Kingdom • GCE Advanced, UK
• International Baccalaureate (IB), UK
• Scottish Certificate of Education (SCE) (Higher Grade) issued by Scottish Examination Board
Vietnam Secondary School Graduation / National University Entrance Examination with a score of 5.0 or above / Upper Secondary (Grade 12)
Yemen A l-Thanawiya (General Secondary Education Certificate)

Source: www.mqa.gov.my (Malaysian Qualifications Agency)

For admission criteria and details on the various courses, please check directly with the PHEIs you are interested in.

4. Studying at PHEIs for postgraduate degrees

There are many reasons why Malaysia is an excellent choice for postgraduate studies. Malaysia offers affordable tuition fees, simple immigration procedures and quality-assured education. In addition, there is a wide scope of master degree programmes and research PhD studies at Malaysian universities as well as foreign university branch campuses.

There are also many opportunities for postgraduate research in Malaysia. Five public universities (out of 20) have been categorised as research-intensive universities by the government. They are:

  • University of Malaya (UM)
  • Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)*
  • Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
  • Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
  • Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)

*USM was granted APEX (Accelerated Programme for Excellence) status in August 2008 by the Malaysian government in an aim to transform it into Malaysia's first world-class university.

Acquiring a Postgraduate Qualification

To begin a postgraduate course, you need to hold a recognised undergraduate degree. This is the foundation from which you will be able to go on to a postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma or a master's degree and afterwards, a PhD. Generally, there are three pathways to acquiring a postgraduate qualification and each depends on the students' needs and providers' requirements.

The three pathways are:

  1. Coursework / Taught-Course
  2. Coursework and Dissertation
  3. Research and Submission of Thesis

(i) Coursework/Taught-Course (MA, MSc/MS)
Students need to complete a minimum number of study hours in coursework and no thesis is required. Taught courses generally consist of essays, project work, industrial or business placements, problem-solving classes, lectures, tutorials and discussion groups as well as assessments / examinations.

(ii) Coursework and Dissertation/Research Report (MA, MSc/MS)
This pathway involves students completing coursework credits and submitting a dissertation on their research project. This may include individual or group projects or research dissertation.

(iii) Research and Submission of Thesis (MPhil, PhD)
Students taking this pathway undertake to conduct scholarly research, submit a thesis and make a viva presentation. The research master's degree acquired is usually a transitional degree to a doctorate (PhD).

Cost of Living in Malaysia

A major advantage for international students when choosing to study in Malaysia is the relatively cheap cost of living. The total expenditure for accommodation, either on-campus or off-campus is very affordable. While your actual cost of living will depend on the location of your accommodation and your personal lifestyle, students will be pleased to know that KL has been ranked one of the least expensive cities in the world to live in. For most students, a monthly budget of RM1,200 (USD375) will provide them with a rather comfortable living in Malaysia.

Cross-Country Comparison of Education Cost

The cost of education varies from country to country. Malaysia has always offered a cost advantage as a study destination for international students. The cost of education in Malaysia is much cheaper than many other overseas countries for foreign students. The table below outlines the estimated tuition fees as well as the estimated country's cost of living for international students.

Education Cost in Selected Countries for International Students at Bachelor's Degree Level (Arts & Humanities/Business)
Country (state/private university) Tuition Fee* per academic year Cost of  Living** per year Total Cost per  year
Australia (state university) A$19,000 A$15,000 A$34,000 (USD31,900)
Canada (state university) University of London, UK C$12,000 C$24,000 (USD24,000)
France (state university) Minimal (€600) €8,000 €8,600 (USD11,300)
Ireland (state university) €13,000 €12,000 €25,000 (USD32,800)
MALAYSIA (private sector: university/private college/foreign university branch campus) # RM20,000 RM15,000 RM35,000 (USD11,000)
New Zealand (state university) NZ$18,000 NZ$15,000 NZ$33,000 (USD24,250)
United Kingdom (state university) £9,000 £8,500 £17,500 (USD26,250)
USA (state university) USD 15,000 USD15,000 USD 30,000
USA (private university) USD 20,000 USD15,000 USD 35,000

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team; Study in Malaysia Handbook (8th International Edition)
Note: * means An estimate for average undergraduate academic year
** means An estimate for average living cost for 12 months
# means Cost for a foreign university degree qualification at private higher educational institutions
Note: These figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline. It is essential in every case that you contact the institution or country's education authority in question to ascertain the exact fee for the course that is of interest to you as well as the actual living cost in that location
Estimated currency exchange rate: USD1 = RM3.20 A$1 = RM3.00 £1 = RM4.80 €1 = RM4.20 NZ$1 = 2.35 C$1 = RM3.20.

Conclusion

Malaysian PHEIs have become a preferred choice for many students, both local and international as a destination that offers quality education under the supervision of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency. There are many international students studying at PHEIs and one of key reasons for them in choosing Malaysia is the competitive tuition fees and lower cost of living which they find more attractive than studying in other countries.

The extensive range of pre-university courses set the stage for a student’s first degree. Subsequently, there is a wide choice of study options particularly at bachelor’s degree level such as twinning degree courses, 3+0 degree programmes, foreign university degree programmes as well as credit transfer degree programmes. Students can also opt for the distance learning mode at bachelor degree and postgraduate levels.

With many local and international students graduating from Malaysian PHEIs to date, it is testimony that these institutions truly are an excellent choice for tertiary education.

Last updated: 22 Apr 2016

Study in Malaysia Handbook 8th Ed.Source: Study in Malaysia Handbook 8th Ed.

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