International students have really found studying in Malaysia a rewarding experience. There are several benefits associated with studying in Malaysia and I’m going to discuss some of these as well as the living cost and fee requirements. In this article, I shall discuss on the low tuition universities in Malaysia, cost of living, admission requirements, tuition fees etc.
Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country occupying parts of the Malay Peninsula and the island of Borneo. It’s known for its beaches, rainforests and mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and European cultural influences. The capital, Kuala Lumpur, is home to colonial buildings, busy shopping districts such as Bukit Bintang and skyscrapers such as the iconic, 451m-tall Petronas Twin Towers.
- Capital: Kuala Lumpur
- Dialing code: +60
- Currency: Malaysian ringgit
Why you should choose to study in Malaysia
- Top quality education
Low and affordable tuition fees
A wide range of courses to select from.
Higher education is cheap and affordable in Malaysia! That explains why a multitude of international students choose to pursue their study in Malaysia. You can acquire a UK engineering degree in Malaysia through a 3+0 franchised programme at an estimated USD6000, whereas tuition fee for the same 3years degree programme at the host university in the UK is pegged at $45000 or GBP30,000.
Benefits of Studying in Malaysia
- Established and high quality education system and standards
- Ability to get foreign degree qualifications studying fully in Malaysia from countries like US, UK, Australia, Canada, etc. at a much lower cost
- High quality of life
- Comparatively low expenditure of studying and living in Malaysia
- Straightforward immigration procedures
- Comfortable, peaceful and safe living in Malaysia
- Wide choices of food
- Great place for travel destinations
- Multi-ethnic nation with vast variety of cultures
- Multi-language country allowing for ease of communication
All international students will also need a “Student Pass” and student visa. Gaining your Student Pass is simple and, once you are accepted onto a program at an accredited university in Malaysia, the school itself will directly apply for the pass on your behalf.
Among the documents they will submit for you is a Personal Bond, for which you will need to pay a fee of around MYR300-1,500 (US$69-US$346), depending on your country of origin.
Once both your acceptance and Student Pass have been approved, all students (for both private and public universities), will need to apply separately for a single-entry student visa through the Malaysian embassy or high commission in their home country.
For this you will need to provide evidence of your offer of study and your Student Pass, have proof of financial stability to meet tuition and living fees, show that you are “in good health and of good character”, and confirm that you intend to live in Malaysia solely for study. Depending on where you’re from, you may also be asked to submit additional documents.
Fees differ between universities in Malaysia, with the prevalence of international branch campuses and private institutions bringing the overall average up. In general however, studying in Malaysia is cheaper than many countries, with average tuition fees currently standing at approximately US$3,985 per year.
Surprisingly, the highest ranked university in the country, Universiti Malaya (UM), as a public institution, has an average which is again much lower, standing at just MYR 7,078 (~US$1,647) per year for international undergraduates.
Although the prices of programs at Malaysia’s international branch campuses tend to be higher, they are still much cheaper than their international counterparts, while offering the same prestige. For example, if you were to take a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Monash University’s Malaysian branch campus it would cost US$9,222 a year, while at the original Monash University in Australia the price would be more than double, currently US$23,297 a year.
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.
Breakdown of Living Cost in Malaysia
The average international student should be prepared to spend about RM1,000 (USD313) to RM1,500 (USD469) per month for living expenses in the vicinity of a city. The cost is broken down as below :
You should estimate about RM300 (USD94) to RM450 (USD141) for your accommodation per month. The rental will vary depending on the geographical area, the type of accommodation (on-campus living in a hall of residence; or off-campus living in an apartment, condominium, singlestory house, double-storey house, etc.), the facilities provided in the house (e.g. with or without air-conditioning) and of course, the number of people sharing the room (or the apartment/house).
Food / Housekeeping
Your food and housekeeping expense is estimated to be around RM400 to RM450 (estimated USD133). This is based on about RM12 to RM15 (USD4.2) for three meals per day. Naturally, if you cook and share the cooking expenses with your friends, it would be cheaper.
Your clothing expenses like washing, ironing, dry-cleaning, etc. may cost around RM60 (USD19) per month.
Students who stay on campus or near campus may not incur any cost of travelling to and from classes. However, other travelling may cost approximately RM30 to RM50 (estimated USD13) per month.
Telecommunication / Mobile Phone Bills and Utilities
The mobile phone packages in Malaysia are very competitive. How much you spend will depend on your usage and the promotional package you choose. The average student may spend about RM30 to RM80 (estimated USD17) per month.
Books, Reading Materials and Stationery
We have estimated the cost to be around RM50 to RM100 (estimated USD24) per month, but it would largely depend on the course you have signed up for and and the number and nature of projects in your course.
Medical / Hospitalization Insurance
Although you may not need to pay for medical expenses every month, if you keep aside RM50 (USD16) per month, it would be sufficient for you in case you need outpatient treatment at a private clinic during the year. This estimate includes the amount you will have to pay for your medical and hospitalisation insurance (from your institutions).
How much your personal expenses would be per month would depend on your personal lifestyle. However, the cost can be estimated to be between RM100 (USD32) and RM200 (USD64). This includes your socialising needs, toiletries, haircut, clothes, movie, etc.
Using the estimate above, the total cost of living will average from between RM1,000 and RM1,500 (USD313 to USD469 ) per month or about RM12,000 to RM18,000 (USD3,750 to USD5,625 ) per year (12 months) for one student.
It is important to remember that the above estimate is only a guide in planning your budget to study in Malaysia. Individual expenses will vary according to the location you are at, course taken and your personal lifestyle.
While this is relatively low compared to many destinations, it is of course still important to plan your budget as early as possible, especially as your visa application will require proof of available funds.
You will also need to bear in mind that international students are unable to work during term time. The only permitted times students can work are during semester breaks and school holidays of more than seven days, for no more than 20 hours a week and on a restricted category of jobs. This means that earning your tuition and living expenses as you go is not an option.
Scholarships and grants
Scholarships and grants are a common way for students to find funding to study in Malaysia. Individual universities in Malaysia will often offer scholarships or fellowships to international as well as domestic students, and information on these is available on their websites.
The Malaysian government also offers funds for international students, one such fund being the Malaysian Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP), available to both undergraduate and postgraduate students with a 2:1 degree or higher.
How to Apply
Below are steps for direct entry into Malaysia
- Submit an application form along with necessary documents to chosen institution which has approval from the ministry of home affairs and Malaysia immigration
- If your application is accepted you will then be assisted by the institution for a student pass at the Malaysian Immigration Department before entry into the country
- If accepted a letter of approval for the student pass will be given by the Malaysian Immigration Department to the educational institution that offered you admission. The institution will then forward the approval to you while in your country
- Before going to Malaysia you should inform your educational institution of your entry including date and time of arrival
- You will be received by the institution when you arrive in the county and a visa will be issued at the entry point. It should be noted that citizens from The Peoples Republic of China are supposed to obtain Entry Visa prior to entry into Malaysia.
- After about two weeks of your arrival in the country, your passport will be submitted by the institution to the immigration department to place a student sticker on it.
Cost of Education 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 :
- Registration fee
- Tuition fee
- Computer/Science laboratory fee
- Health & hospitalization insurance premium
- Library fee
- Other incidental costs such as examination fees
Low Tuition Universities in Malaysia
- International Islamic University Malaysia
- National University of Malaysia
- University of Malaysia Kelantan
- University of Malaysia Pahang
- University of Malaysia Perlis
- University of Malaysia Sabah
- University of Malaysia Sarawak
- University of Malaysia, Terengganu
- Sultan Idris Education University
- National Defence University of Malaysia
- Putra University, Malaysia
- Islamic Science University of Malaysia
- University of Science, Malaysia
- Sultan Zainal Abidin University
- Technical University of Malaysia Malacca
- University of Technology, Malaysia
- MARA University of Technology
- Tun Hussein Onn University of Malaysia
- Northern University of Malaysia
- University of Malaya