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The cost of higher education in Malaysia

by StudyMalaysia.com on July 3, 2020 | Top Stories, Why Study in Malaysia

The cost of higher education in Malaysia - StudyMalaysia.com

One of the many reasons why international students choose Malaysia is its cost-effective, high quality tertiary education. As an example, you can acquire a UK engineering degree (3 years) in Malaysia through a 3+0 foreign university franchised degree programme at an estimated RM68,000 (US$17,000). The tuition fee of the same 3-year degree programme at the host university in the UK is about £35,000 (or RM175,000 or US$43,750).

As such, a student can save up to RM107,000 (US$26,750) in tuition fees if he or she chooses to study in Malaysia (see Table 2). If cost of living is taken into account, students who complete their entire 3+0 degree in Malaysia can save up to an estimated RM180,000 (US$45,000).

In a survey on the ‘Most Affordable Cities for Students between 2016-2018’ QS University Ranking found that “Kuala Lumpur has received a good score for affordability, with a combination of low living costs and relatively low tuition fees”. Kuala Lumpur ranks #1 in QS Top Universities ‘Most Affordable Cities for Students’ in 2016 and 2017, falling only one notch to #2 in 2018 and 2019.

The major components of education cost are:

  • Course fees which include tuition fees and other study fees payable to the institution, depending on what you are studying and the duration of your study programme; and
  • Living expenses which depends on where you are staying, your type of accommodation and your lifestyle.

This article explores the tuition for a college or university student in Malaysia.

Tuition fee costs in Malaysia

Cost of Studying and Living in Malaysia

Your course fees will consist of your tuition fees plus other related study expenses. Below are types of fees that you may incur during your course of study:

  1. Academic Fees:
    • Registration fee
    • Tuition fee
    • Deposit
    • Computer/Science laboratory fee
    • Library fee
    • Other incidental costs such as examination fees
  2. Non-academic Fees:
    • Student visa fees
    • Medical check-up
    • Health and hospitalisation insurance premium

The breakdown of estimated tuition fees at various levels of study at private higher educational institutions (PHEIs) in Malaysia are outlined below.

A. Pre-university programmes

If you have completed IGSCE or O-level and are looking for pre-university studies to prepare for a bachelor’s degree programme or professional courses, Malaysia offers a wide variety of pre-university programmes. Here are some types of pre-university programmes, the duration of study and estimated tuition fees.

Table 1: Estimated tuition fees for various types of pre-university programmes

Types of pre-university course Duration of study No. of subjects studied/ (typical exam result announcement date) Estimated tuition fee per course (RM)
Cambridge GCE A-Levels, UK 15-18 months 3 – 4 subjects / (August/January) RM19,000–32,000
(US$4,750–9,500)
for 3 subjects
SACE, Australia (formerly SAM) 11 months 5 subjects / (December) RM21,500–23,500
(US$5,250–7,000)
AUSMAT, Australia 10 months 5-6 subjects / (December) RM22,000–30,000
(US$5,550–7,500)
CIMP, Canada 12 months 6 subjects / (June/December, usually 1 month after exam) RM37,000 (US$9,250)
International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP), (at international schools) 24 months 6 subjects / (July/Jan) RM60,000–80,000
(US$15,000–20,000)
Monash University Foundation Year (MUFY) 12 months 4 or 5 subjects / (July/December, usually within 2 months after exam) RM30,000
(US$7,500)
New South Wales High School Certificate (NSW HSC) 12 months 5 subjects  (usually within 2 months after exam) RM15,000
(US$3,750)
University’s Internal Programme (private) 10-12 months 5-6 subjects / (varies) RM12,000–18,000
(US$3,000–4,500)

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team; Education Guide Malaysia (15th edition), brochures and websites of various colleges
(Estimated currency exchange rate: US$1=RM4.00; £1=RM5.00)
(Note: All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline)

Bachelor degree programmes

Malaysia offers you many study pathways to complete an entire 3-year bachelor degree programme at a very competitive cost if you have a pre-university qualification. The estimated tuition fees for various study modes (‘3+0’, twinning, ADP, home-grown, foreign university, etc.) that lead to a bachelor degree qualification are:

Table 2: Cost comparison for a 3+0 foreign university franchised Electronic Engineering degree in Malaysia and a UK bachelor degree in Engineering (3 years)

Item 3+0 engineering degree in Malaysia (estimated cost)
Tuition fees (for international students) RM68,000 per course for a duration of 3 years
Basic living expenses RM1,800 per month or estimated RM54,000 for 3 years  (3 x 10 months)
Other costs RM15,000
Total tuition fees and living expenses for 3 years Approx. RM137,000
(US$34,250)
Estimated savings for 3+0 degree programme RM180,500 (US$45,125)

(Source: HELP College of Arts & Technology; StudyMalaysia Research Team)
(Estimated currency exchange rate: US$1=RM4.00; £1=RM5.00)
(Note: All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline)

Table 3: Estimated tuition fees per course for a home-grown bachelor degree at Malaysian private universities

Areas of study Business Engineering IT
Estimated tuition fee

RM40,000–50,000
(Average cost: RM43,000 or US$10,750)

RM50,000–85,000
(Average cost: RM70,000 or US$17,500)
RM40,000–60,000
(Average cost: RM55,000 or US$13,750)
Duration of study 3 years 4 years 3 years

(Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team; Brochures of some institutions
(Estimated currency exchange rate: US$1=RM4.00)
(Note: All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline)

Table 4: Estimated tuition fees for an American Degree Transfer Program

Programme Duration Tuition fee: Studying in Malaysia and the US
American Degree Transfer Program 2 years (in Malaysia) + 2 years (in the US) RM30,000–50,000 (US$7,500–12,500) for 2 years in Malaysia and  US$25,000 (state university)–35,000 (private university) per year in the US

Table 5: Estimated tuition fees for a 2+1 UK Degree Transfer Programme (Law)

Degree transfer programme Duration of study Estimated Tuition Fee: Malaysia + Overseas
UK Degree Transfer Programme (Law)


2 years (in Malaysia) + 1 year (in the UK)

Tuition fee: RM67,000 (or US$16,750) for 2 years in Malaysia + £12,500–18,000 per year in the UK depending on the choice of university

Living expenses: RM20,000–25,000 per year in Malaysia; £9,500–12,000 per year in the UK

(Source: HELP University; StudyMalaysia Research Team
(Estimated currency exchange rate: US$1=RM4.00; £1=RM5.00)
(Note: All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline)

Table 6: Comparison of tuition fee for a foreign university branch campus Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (4 years study duration in Malaysia and the UK)

Duration of study Tuition fee
4 years in Malaysia (entire course in Malaysia) RM196,000 @RM49,800 per year
4 years in the UK (entire course in the UK) £73,920 for 4 years
@£18,480 per year

Source: Heriot-Watt University Malaysia and UK websites
(Estimated currency exchange rate: US$1=RM4.00; £1=RM5.00)
(All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline)

Table 7: Estimated tuition fees per year for a bachelor degree in the US and other countries

1. USA US$25,000 (state university)–35,000 (private university) per year in the US
2. Canada CAD$17,000–30,000 per year in Canada
3. Australia AUD$20,000–40,000 per year in Australia
4. New Zealand NZ$22,000–35,000 per year in New Zealand
5. United Kingdom £10,000–30,000 per year in the UK

(Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team and Study in Malaysia Handbook 10th International Edition)
(Estimated currency exchange rate: US$1=RM4.00)
(Note: All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline)

C. Postgraduate studies

Public universities and PHEIs in Malaysia offer international students postgraduate programmes at very competitive tuition fees. The estimated tuition fees are as follows:

Table 88: Estimated course fees for Master of Business Administration (MBA) awarded by Malaysian universities

Providers Qualification Course fee (RM) Duration
Private universities
Master of Business Administration

RM20,000-40,000 per course
(US$5,00-10,000)

1 to 1.5 years full-time
Public universities Master of Business Administration RM21,000-26,000 per course
(US$5,250-6,500)
1 to 1.5 years full-time

(Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team; brochures of some institutions)
(Estimated currency exchange rate: US$1=RM4.00)
(Note: All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline)

Related article:

Source: Study in Malaysia Handbook, 11th edition

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