Why study in Malaysia?

Out of the many reasons, one of the best reason to study in Malaysia is the cost effective prestigious degree. Other than its home grown world class universities, Malaysia is also home to a number of foreign university branches. For example, there is Curtin and Monash University of Australia, Heriot watt from UK and many more like that, which would cost you a double or sometimes triple, had you chosen to study in the host University. Plus, it is also comparatively quite easy to get in to the Malaysian campus as well. 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), whereas the tuition fee of the same 3-year degree programme at the host university in the UK is about £36,000 (or RM217,000 or US$54,250). As such, a student can save up to RM149,000 (US$37,250) in tuition fees if he or she chooses to study in Malaysia (see Table 2.24). If cost of living is taken into account, students who complete their entire 3+0 degree in Malaysia can save up to an estimated RM216,000 (US$54,000).

Malaysia’s rich culture, due to the major and minor ethnicities living in the country is one of the main reasons why it is one of the best destinations for those who want to study abroad. As of 2016, there were 172,886 internationals students in Malaysia’s higher education institutions, private and international schools, and language centres. The cost of living is also lower as compared to other countries – with a wide variety of foods, accommodation and recreational activities you can do. Malaysia is right now one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world and they are very open-minded as well. Malaysians, by origin, are very Islamic in case of dress-up, but you will not find anyone complaining about others not covering up. Everywhere you go, you will find people from all sorts of origins, though especially South Asian.

Further to that, the government’s ultimate goal to make the country a major education hub in the region is well on its way.


Pre-University Programmes

If you have completed SSC, IGSCE or O-level and are looking for a diploma or a foundation course which will provide a pathway for a bachelor’s degree programme or professional courses, Malaysia offers a wide variety of these programmes. Here are some types of pre-university programmes, the duration of study and estimated tuition fee.

Types of Pre-University 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 /
for 3 subjects
SACE, Australia
(formerly SAM)
11 months 5 subjects /
AUSMAT, Australia 10 months 5-6 subjects /
CIMP, Canada 12 months 6 subjects /
usually 1 month after exam)
RM27,000–30,000 (US$6,750-7,500)


International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) 24 months 6 subjects /
RM115, 000
Monash University Foundation Year (MUFY) 12 months 4/5 subjects /
usually within 2 months after exam)
(US$ 6,250)
New South Wales High School Certificate (NSW HSC) 12 months 5 subjects
(usually within 2 months after exam)
RM13,000 – 21,000
University’s Internal Programme (private) 10 – 12 months 5-6 subjects /


Bachelor’s Degree Programmes

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

Item 3+0 Engineering 
Degree in Malaysia 
(Estimated cost)
Host University in UK 
(Estimated cost)
Tuition fees (for international 
RM68,000 per course for a
duration of 3 years
£12,000 per academic year
or £36,000 for a duration of 3 years (full-time)
Basic living expenses RM54,000 for 3 years £670 per month or
estimated £18,000 for 3
academic years (3 x 9 months)
Other cost RM15,000 £5,000
Total tuition fees and living expenses for 3 years Approx. RM140,000
Approx. £59,000
Estimated savings for 3+0 degree programme RM184,000 (US$46,000)

Source: HELP College of Arts & Technology; StudyMalaysia Research Team

Estimated Tuition Fees per Course for a home-grown Bachelor’s Degree at Malaysian Private Universities:

Areas of
Business Engineering IT
Tuition Fee

(Average cost: RM40,000 or US$10,000)


(Average cost: RM60,000 or US$15,000)


(Average cost: RM45,000 or US$11,250)

of Study
3 years 4 years 3 years


Areas of
Hospitality & 
Medicine Pharmacy
Tuition Fee

(Average cost: RM45,000 or US$7,500-16,250)

(Average cost: RM320,000 or US$80,000)
(Average cost: RM120,000 or US$30,000)
of Study
3 years 5 years 4 years

Estimated Tuition Fees for an American Degree Transfer Program:

Duration Tuition Fee: Studying in Malaysia+US
American Degree 
Transfer Program
2 (in Malaysia)+2 (in US) years RM26,000-45,000 (US$6,500-11,250) for 2 years in Malaysia and US$13,000-40,000 per year in the US

Estimated Tuition Fees for a 2+1 UK Degree Transfer Programme (Law):

Degree Transfer
Duration of 
Estimated Tuition Fee: Malaysia + Overseas
UK Degree Transfer Programme (Law) 2 (in Malaysia)+1 (in UK) years Tuition Fee: RM60,000 (or US$15,000) for 2 years in Malaysia + £10,000 – £14,000  per year in the UK depending on the choice of university and course

Living expenses: RM1,800 (or US$450) per month in Malaysia; £800 per month in UK

Comparison of Tuition Fee for a Foreign University Branch Campus Bachelor of Engineering (4 years study duration in Malaysia and UK)

Duration of Study
Tuition fee (Studying in Malaysia) Tuition fee (Studying in UK) Total Tuition Fee (in Malaysia & UK)
Number of years 
(4 yrs in Malaysia + 0 yr in UK)
RM163,200 @40,800 per year £0 year RM163,200 or US$40,800 for 4+0 years (Entire course in Malaysia)
Number of years 
(3 yrs in Malaysia + 1 yr in UK)
RM122,400 for 3 years £16,420 for 1 year RM212,710 or US$53,178 for 3+1 years
Number of years 
(2 yrs in Malaysia + 2 yr in UK)
RM81,600 for 2 years £32,840 for 2 years RM262,220 or US$65,555 for 2+2 years
Number of years 
1 yr in Malaysia + 3 yrs in UK)
RM40,800 for 1 year £49,260 for 3 years RM311,730 or US$77,933 for 1+3 years
Number of years 
(0 yr in Malaysia + 4 yrs in UK)
RM0 year £65,680 for 4 years RM361,240 or US$90,310 for 0+4 years (Entire course in UK)

Source: Heriot-Watt University Malaysia
(Estimated currency exchange rate: US$1=RM4.00; £1=RM5.50)
(All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline)

(Note: Heriot-Watt University allows students in Malaysia to transfer to UK at any level (e.g. 1 year in Malaysia and 2 years in UK or 2 years in Malaysia and 1 year in the UK). Students could also pursue their first year in Malaysia, second year in Edinburgh – and the third year back in Malaysia.)

The cost of living in Malaysia for an average international student is about RM1,800 (US$450) per month for living expenses in the city domain. The breakdown should look something like this:

Accommodation – This should be about RM300 to RM600 per month. The cost varies depending on whether you are living on-campus or off-campus and the availability of an air condition. You can spend less by sharing a rented flat with some other student.

Food / Housekeeping – This is estimated to be around RM600-900, considering you have three meals per day from outside. Of course if you are cooking by yourself and/or sharing the expense, it will be lower. It is possible to have fast food costing just RM10 per meal in Malaysia, from McDonald’s or Burger King is possible, though not the healthiest of options. But there are local food shops in this range or lower as well that you can consider.

Public Transport – Students staying near or on campus may not have much expenditure in this area, however, other travelling cost may reach up to RM150 per month.

Phone Bills and Utilities – Mobile phone packages are pretty competitive in Malaysia. An average student spends around RM40 per month as phone bills.

Books, Reading Materials and Stationery – The estimated cost of books and stationery should be around RM50-100 (US$12.50-25) per month, but it would largely depend on the course you have signed up for and the number and nature of projects in your course.

Medical Insurance – If you consider RM50 per month as medical expenses, it would be more than enough (include you in case you need outpatient treatment at a private clinic) during the year. This estimate is the amount you will have to pay for your medical and hospitalisation insurance of about RM500 per year.

Personal Expenses – Depending on your lifestyle, the cost estimated can be between RM100 and RM200. We have included your socialising needs, toiletries, haircut, clothes, movie etc in it.

This is just to help you plan your budget accordingly but how much you want to spend in what is totally up to your decision and way of life.

After Study

Most of the people who have studied and lived in Malaysia do not easily want to leave the country. So if you happen to become one of them as well, we suggest you apply for a job in Malaysia. Once you get a job, your employer will apply on your behalf and vouch for you so that you can legally work there. The available working visas are Employment PassTemporary Employment Pass, and Visitor’s Pass (Professional). The lengths of each of these options do vary, from six months up to around five years, as do the terms and condition. You need to check with those before you decide on anything.