Malaysia has more than 590 higher education institutions and more than 1,270,000 students of all higher education. With so many universities and colleges to choose from, you might need some help.
Let us guide you through all the different types of higher education institutions and how to choose from them.
While students still pay for their tuition fees, Public Universities are funded by the government as they pay for most of the operating costs. These universities are in overall bigger with thousands of students studying there.
Universiti Malaya is Malaysia's prestigious and oldest public university. (Image source: TheStar)
Private universities and colleges
These are colleges and universities that do not get funded by the government and rely on the students' tuition contribution. Their fees may be higher than in public universities.
Management & Science University (MSU) is a private university that was accorded the Tier 5 Excellence twice by the Ministry of Higher Education. (Image source: Shafiq Rushidin II, Foursquare)
There are three types of private institutions:
- Universities: They offer both undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses and can confer these degrees.
- University Colleges: They don't have full university status and often are part of a bigger university, and they mainly offer pre-university and diploma programmes. They can confer degrees under specialised fields and disciplines.
- Colleges: They offer diploma and pre-university programmes. Some of these establishments can provide degree courses, twinning programmes included, through a local or foreign partner university.
You can find the list of universities and colleges here.
Foreign universities in Malaysia are also considered private and they work together with Malaysian institutions. Malaysian students who study in these schools will get an international qualification without leaving the country.
Currently, there are 10 Foreign Branch Campuses in Malaysia, with more than 100,000 international students from different countries.
- Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, Sarawak
- Heriot-Watt University Malaysia, Putrajaya
- Curtin University, Sarawak
- Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, Johor
- Monash University Malaysia, Selangor
- University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Selangor
- University of Southampton Malaysia Campus, Johor
- Xiamen University Malaysia Campus, Selangor
- University of Reading Malaysia
- RCSI & UCD Malaysia Campus
Top universities and colleges in Malaysia
The higher education system in Malaysia is improving every year and boasts top colleges and universities. Most of them have been recognised not just locally, but also abroad. To put together this list, we referred to both the internationally-recognised QS World University Rankings and the prestigious Malaysian rating system, SETARA.
Malaysia is home to some of the best universities in Asia and the world. (Image source: Arif Syuhada, Pexels)
Top universities in Malaysia according to QS World University Rankings 2022
We have compiled the complete list of institutions that made it to the QS World University Rankings for 2022 below:
|No.||Universities||QS World Ranking|
|2||Universiti Putra Malaysia||143|
|3||Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia||144|
|4||Universiti Sains Malaysia||147|
|5||Universiti Teknologi Malaysia||191|
|6||Asia Pacific University (APU)||280 (Asia)|
|8||Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP)||414|
|9||Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM)||511-520|
|10||Management & Science University (MSU)||601-650|
SETARA is a ranking/rating system carried out by the Ministry of Education Malaysia to assess Malaysia’s universities and colleges. There are three categories in the SETARA rating: Mature Universities, Emerging Universities, and University Colleges. You can find out more on the Ministry of Higher Education website.
Here are some of the best universities in Malaysia that are in the SETARA 2018/2019 rankings:
|1||Universiti Malaya||Outstanding: 6|
|2||Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)||Outstanding: 6|
|3||Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)||Outstanding: 6|
|4||Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)||Outstanding: 6|
|5||Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)||Outstanding: 6|
|6||Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP)||Outstanding: 6|
|7||International Medical University (IMU)||Outstanding: 6|
|8||Monash University Malaysia||Outstanding: 6|
|9||Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP)||Excellent: 5|
|10||Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM)||Excellent: 5|
|11||International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)||Excellent: 5|
|12||Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)||Excellent: 5|
|13||Universiti Kuala Lumpur (UniKL)||Excellent: 5|
|14||Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)||Excellent: 5|
|15||Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS)||Excellent: 5|
|16||Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)||Excellent: 5|
|17||Curtin University, Malaysia||Excellent: 5|
|18||The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNM)||Excellent: 5|
|19||Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU)||Excellent: 5|
|20||Management and Science University (MSU)||Excellent: 5|
To give you a general idea of the tuition fees of Malaysian universities you can see the ranges per level below.
|Study Level||Tuition Fee (per year)|
|Foundation / Pre-U||RM 10,000 - 26,000|
|Diploma||RM 20,000 - 60,000|
|Bachelor's degree||RM 8,000 - 150,000|
|Master's degree||RM 10,000 - 150,000|