Located in the southeastern region of Asia, Malaysia could be a surprising destination for those who don’t know much about it.
This country, whose territory is separated by the sea, has grown at an impressive pace since its independence in the 50s. It actually maintained a GPD growth of over 6% per year for five decades!
They currently have an economy that’s diversifying to fields like tourism, science, and medical tourism. Also, as they were a British colony, their education system is similar to those in the Western world and the use of English has expanded throughout the territory.
In this article, we will be looking at the cheap universities in Malaysia for international students.
On the side note, applying to universities in Malaysia can be a bit difficult, so we’ve prepared a guide on How to Study in Malaysia for International Students. Check the guide out if you feel lost!
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Four things you should know when studying in Malaysia
1. Higher education is relatively new in Malaysia but has grown quickly
When Malaysia became an independent nation in 1957, it only had two colleges and a university in the territory of today’s Singapore, which then opened a branch in Malaysia. However, the rapid growth of its economy changed the needs of society and having universities quickly became a priority.
By 2000, Malaysia already had 11 public universities and dozens of private university colleges and colleges.
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2. Private universities and colleges are very popular among international students
For a long time, admissions to public universities was restricted since they followed an ethnic system in which 90% of places were reserved to Malays, and minorities living in the country –a very diverse one in terms of ethnicity—were at a disadvantage.
This is one of the reasons why private institutions started to thrive and became very popular. Also, it is usual that industries and corporations participate in private education. This has pushed them to increase quality and establish competitive fees.
Another important part of higher education in Malaysia is international campuses of universities abroad. Many foreign universities have branches here, which means you can get internationally recognized degrees from universities in Australia, China, Ireland or England.
And because of many cheap universities in Malaysia, at a fraction of the price! Even if tuition fees at these international branches are not the most affordable, studying at their campuses in Malaysia could cost up to 40% less than in their main campuses overseas.
3. Finding programs in English won’t be a problem
Although Malaysian is their official language, English is widely used. Since the country is a former British colony, English is still a recognized language. In fact, this is why their education system shares many similarities with their British counterpart. During primary and secondary school, many courses are taught in this language.
Universities have adapted their curricula to offer programs fully taught in English. All programs at international campuses are available in English.
4. You can study in Malaysia for less than USD 10,000!
Tuition fees at public universities range from USD 1,500 to USD 6,000 per year. Education at private institutions can cost about USD 9,000 per academic year.
Branches of foreign universities are more expensive but significantly cheaper than their main campuses. For example, tuition fees for a program could cost USD 10,000 per year at the Malaysian campus, while the same program costs USD 25,000 per year on the main campus overseas.
Even good news is that you can study in Malaysia for free! If you are interested, check out How to Study in Malaysia for Free (7 Steps).
Cheap Universities in Malaysia
1. University of Malaya (UM)
Tuition Fee: From USD 1,260 to USD 2,643 per semester for non-medical degrees.
We start our list of cheapest universities in Malaysia for international students with the University of Malaya. This institution started as a medical college in 1905. Over 40 years later, it was merged with another college and it became a university. However, as it was located in the territory of Singapore, a new branch was opened in Malaysia and in 1960, it became the autonomous University of Malaya (UM).
This is the oldest and best-ranked university in Malaysia, with the 70th place in the QS World University Ranking. It has almost 25,000 students and is located in the capital city, Kuala Lumpur.
It is divided into 13 faculties of pharmacy, arts and social sciences, education, law, economics and administration, languages and linguistics, computer science and information technology, built environment, business and accountancy, engineering, science, dentistry, and medicine. It also has five institutes and six centers of research and culture.
Tuition fees for English-taught international programs go from USD 1,260 to USD 2,643 per semester. The only exception is for programs in the medical field, which go from USD 3,546 to USD 15,936. Besides tuition fees, you’ll also have to pay an admission fee of USD 900.
2. University Putra Malaysia (UPM)
Tuition Fee: From USD 1,250 to USD 2,381 per semester.
As it happened with the UM, the University Putra Malaysia (UPM) started as a College of Agriculture. It received its university status in 1971 and since then, it has expanded to other areas besides agriculture. It currently has the 159th place in the QS World University Ranking.
Located in the state of Selangor, this cheap university in Malaysia has more than 21,000 students. It is divided into 16 faculties that offer education in fields like agriculture and forestry, medicine, engineering and technology, medicine, architecture and design, communication, and modern languages.
It also has a business school and nine institutes of research in the areas of agriculture, science, math, medicine, and forestry.
UPM offers dual joint Ph.D., dual Ph.D., and dual master degree programs in association with universities in other countries. It also has two student residences with places available for international students.
Regarding tuition fees, bachelor degree programs go from USD 1,250 to USD 2,381 per semester. When applying, you’ll have to pay a fee of USD 65.
3. Open University Malaysia (OUM)
Tuition Fee: From USD 445 per semester.
The Open University Malaysia (OUM) started its operations in 2001 as a private university owned by a consortium of 11 Malaysian public universities. This university specializes in distance education and e-learning, with very flexible programs and schedules, which is perfect for those who want to continue their studies while working or for those who would prefer a part-time program.
Its main building is located in Kuala Lumpur, but there are 37 learning centers throughout the country. Admissions at this affordable university in Malaysia are non-restrictive and give the opportunity of transferring credits in case you already received education in the same field of studies at another university.
It has five faculties of education and languages, science and technology, business and management, information technology and multimedia communication, and applied and social sciences.
Regarding tuition fees, each program and each semester have different tuition fees. International students have to pay 20% more than local students. For example, the first semester of the bachelor in Medical and Health Sciences costs RM 3,256 (USD 780) for local students, so international students will have to pay USD 936. Prices for bachelor degree programs start at RM 1,530 (USD 370 approx.) per semester plus the 20%.
4. USCI University
Tuition Fee: From USD 3,600 approx. to USD 8,050 approx. per year for non-medical degrees.
The next candidate in our list of cheapest universities in Malaysia for international students is USCI. Opened over 30 years ago, in 1986, UCSI University is the best private university in Malaysia, with the 442nd place in the QS World University Ranking. They are known for their affiliation with more than 4,000 companies, which means that students receive unique internship, research, and job opportunities.
UCSI University has seven faculties of business and information science, medicine and health sciences, social science and liberal arts, hospitality and tourism management, pharmaceutical sciences, applied sciences, and engineering, technology and built environment. It also has an institute of music and an institute of creative art and design.
Tuition fees vary depending on the program and the academic year. The first year of bachelor degree programs go from RM 15,000 (USD 3,600 approx.) to RM 33,560 (USD 8,050 approx.). However, programs in the field of medicine can cost up to RM 60,645 (USD 14,500 approx.) for the first year of studies.
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5. University of Malaysia, Perlis (UniMAP)
Tuition Fee: From USD 2,451 to USD 2,689 per year including accommodation.
The University of Malaysia, Perlis (UniMAP) is located in the state of Perlis and is one of the most recent public institutions in the country, as it was established in 2001. It is also known as one of the cheapest universities in Malaysia and is ranked between the 701st and 750th best universities in the QS World University Ranking.
UniMAP is divided into one faculty and 10 schools that offer education in different areas of technology and engineering. The university has three campuses and student residences with places for international students. In fact, living in student residences is mandatory for first and second-year students.
Regarding tuition fees, English-taught bachelor degree programs for international students cost between USD 2,451 and USD 2,689 for the first year of studies. After the first year, prices are usually below USD 2,000. These prices include accommodation in the student residences, which typically cost around USD 800 per year.
6. Malaysian University of Sabah (UMS)
Tuition Fee: From USD 1,100 to USD 1,500 per year.
The Malaysian University of Sabah (UMS) opened its doors in 1994 as a public institution. It is ranked among the top 1000 universities according to the QS World University Ranking.
UMS has three campuses in different Malaysian cities. This cheap university in Malaysia has 10 faculties that offer programs in the areas of medicine, humanities, engineering, science, agriculture, sustainability, accountancy, and economics. It also has three institutes and two centers of research and languages.
In the case of tuition fees, bachelor degree programs go from RM 4,460 to RM 6,118 per year. These prices include accommodation fees at the student residences and a one-time payment all international students must make upon registration.
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