Student Info & Guide

Choosing the Right Pre-university Programme: Foundation Studies by Private Universities and Colleges

by on October 13, 2017 | Top Stories, Pre-University Programmes & Foundation Studies

Choosing the Right Pre-university Programme: Foundation Studies by Private Universities and Colleges -

If you have an SPM qualification and you are planning to pursue a bachelor degree, you would most likely need a pre-U qualification to gain admission to a university or college. So which pre-U programme should you choose?

Although many pre-U programmes are recognised globally by universities, it is important to spend some time finding out more about each type of pre-U programme so that your transition into a bachelor degree will be easier.

In Malaysia, there are three categories of pre-U programmes offered for students with SPM qualifications:

  1. Malaysian post-secondary qualifications by the Malaysian Examination Board
  2. International pre-university qualifications by external examination boards
  3. Home-grown foundation programmes with qualifications awarded by various universities

One of the more popular pre-U options among students is foundation studies. Read on to find out why.

1. Foundation studies by private universities and colleges

Home grown foundation studies are offered mainly by private higher education institutions (including foreign university branch campuses) that offer home-grown bachelor degrees, or twinning and 3+0 degree programmes. Unlike external qualifications which focus on general science and art-based subjects, internal qualifications provide general science and arts programmes as well as specialisations in areas such as architecture, business, law, computer and IT, hospitality, engineering and more.

There are typically three intakes a year and the entry requirement accepted are SPM (5 credits), UEC (4Bs), IGCSE /O level (5 credits) or its equivalent.


  • students study the subjects that are specific to the course they plan to take at degree level at the intended university
  • the programme usually takes only a year to complete
  • more cost effective than programmes that take up to two years
  • high chance of entering the intended degree programme as long as you meet the cut off point of the entry requirements


  • could be difficult to switch programmes if you decide to pursue a different field
  • limited recognition for overseas degree programmes - limited overseas universities recognise the foundation programme if you decide to continue your studies somewhere else

Interested in pursuing a foundation programme? Here’s a list of programmes you can consider:

Private University & University College
Private College

Here are some examples of what subjects you can expect to take if you enrol for an internal foundation programme:

Programme and awarding institution


Foundation in Science, awarded by SEGi University

Semester 1

  • Physics 1
  • Chemistry 1
  • Mathematics 1
  • Public Speaking

Semester 2

  • Physics 2
  • Chemistry 2
  • Mathematics 2
  • Biology 1 / Information Technology

Semester 3

  • Physics 3
  • Chemistry 3
  • Mathematics 3
  • Biology 2 / Computer Applications

Foundation in Arts, awarded by SEGi University

Semester 1

  • General Language Training
  • Computer Application
  • Introduction to Business
  • Statistics

Semester 2

  • Academic English
  • Principle of Economics
  • Elective 1*
  • Elective 2*

Semester 3

  • Public Speaking
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Elective 3*
  • Elective 4*

* Students will have to choose from the electives below according to the discipline of undergraduate studies they intend to pursue.

Accountancy & Business

  • Intro to Marketing
  • Intro to Financial
  • Accounting
  • Fundamentals of Management
  • Mathematics

Creative Design

  • History of Art
  • Colour & Form
  • Drawing Fundamentals
  • Fundamentals of Photography

Built Environment

  • Intro to Building Technology
  • Intro to Estimating
  • Intro to Construction Materials
  • Mathematics

Mass Communication

  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Communication & Scholarship
  • Fundamentals of Photography


  • Programming Methodology
  • Information Technology
  • Fundamentals of Management
  • Mathematics

Tourism & Hospitality

  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Fundamentals of Management
  • Sociology of Tourism
Monash University Foundation Year (MUFY) Programme, awarded by Monash University

English course

  • English 1 (Comprehension & Persuasion)
  • English 2 (Exploring Ideas)


  • Accounting 1 (Fundamentals of Accounting)
  • Accounting 2 (Financial Accounting)
  • Economics 1 (Introduction To Microeconomics)
  • Economics 2 (An Introduction To Macroeconomics)

Computer science

  • Information & Computer Technology 1 (Applications & Introduction To Programming)
  • Information & Computer Technology 2 (Networks, Database & Programming 2)


  • Advanced Mathematics 1 (Essential Concepts)
  • Advanced Mathematics 2 (Calculus With Applications)
  • Fundamental Mathematics 1 (Pattern In Number)
  • Fundamental Mathematics 2 (Contexts For Mathematics)
  • Mathematics 1 (Functions & Calculus)
  • Mathematics 2 (Probability & Statistics)


  • Biology 1 (Functioning Organisms)
  • Biology 2 (Inheritance & Change)
  • Chemistry 1 (Chemical Connections)
  • Chemistry 2 (Chemistry & Industry)
  • Physics 1 (Mechanics)
  • Physics 2 (Electricity, Magnetism & Modern Physics)

Social sciences

  • Globalisation 1 (Nations, Economics & People)
  • Globalisation 2 (Culture, Rights & Reactions)

The MUFY programme is offered on a modular or semester basis. Each subject is divided into two units i.e. part 1 and part 2. In total, the programme offers eleven subjects in twenty-two units. Students have the option of choosing between eight and ten units which must include English 1 and English 2.

2. Foundation programmes at public universities

If you plan to continue your higher education at a public university, you have the option of applying for a university foundation programme known as Program Asasi. Pusat Asasi or the Centre of Foundation Studies was established at selected public universities with the aim of preparing students to pursue bachelor degree programmes at the respective universities.

The duration of the programme takes one to two years depending on the programme. Students take a combination of subjects and courses are conducted via lectures, tutorials and practical laboratory work. Assessment for the courses includes tests, quizzes, assignments and examinations.
Students interested in this programme would need to apply online through a centralised processing agency known as Bahagian Pengurusan Kemasukan Pelajar (BPKP) via in January for its annual intake in July.

To apply, students must:

  • be Malaysian citizens
  • possess SPM qualifications or its equivalent with a minimum of five credits including Bahasa Melayu and a pass in History (A credit for Bahasa Melayu in the July paper is acceptable)

In addition, applicants must fulfil the minimum requirements for the specific programme they are applying for.
The selection criteria applied by BPKP require that applicants:

  • achieve good academic results in the SPM examination and have participated actively in co-curricular activities
  • possess a combination of subjects taken relevant to the programme applied for
  • possess good subject grades for specialisation purposes
  • pass the interview for study programmes that require interviews
  • select study programmes according to order of priority

The selection of successful candidates is subject to the availability of places at the respective public universities.
Malaysia has 20 public universities but not all offer foundation courses.

The following are some of the public universities that offer foundation courses for students with SPM qualifications:

  1. Universiti Malaya ( offers Program Asasi Sains Hayat and Asasi Sains Fizikal for Bumiputra candidates and Asasi Pengajian Islam dan Sains and Asasi Pengajian Islam for all Malaysians
  2. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia ( Program Asasi Pintar for all Malaysians
  3. Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia ( Program Asasi Sains Hayat, Sains Fizikal, Sains Kesihatan Bersekutu, Kejururawatan, Farmasi, Pergigian, Perubatan, Bahasa Inggeris, Bahasa Arab, Ekonomi dan Sains Pengurusan, Seni Bina dan Reka Bentuk Alam Sekitar, Kejuruteraan dan Sains Komputer, Undang-undang, and Imu Pengetahuan Berteraskan Wahyu dan Warisan Islam for Bumiputra candidates
  4. Universiti Teknologi MARA ( offers Program Asasi SainsTESL, Kejuruteraan and Undang-Undang for Bumiputra candidates
  5. Universiti Putra Malaysia ( offers Program Asasi Sains Pertanian for all Malaysians
  6. Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia ( offers Program Tamhidi Pergigian, Perubatan, Perakaunan dan Muamalat, Syariah dan Undang-undang, and Sains dan Teknologi for all Malaysians
  7. Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia ( offers Program Asasi Perubatan, Pengurusan dan Strategi, and Kejuruteraan dan Teknologi for all Malaysians
  8. Universiti Malaysia Sarawak ( offers Program Asasi Sains Hayat and Program Asasi Sains Fizikal for Bumiputra candidates
  9. Universiti Malaysia Sabah ( offers Program Asasi Sains for Bumiputra candidates
  10. Universiti Utara Malaysia ( offers Program Asasi Pengurusan for all Malaysians


  • this is a public university internal programme which prepares students to continue with a degree programme at the same university
  • students study the subjects that are specific to the course they plan to take at degree level
  • the programme usually takes only a year to complete
  • cheaper than foundation programmes at private institutions
  • high chance of entering the intended degree programme of the university as long as you meet the cut-off point of the entry requirements


  • could be difficult to switch to a different degree programme or university if you decide to pursue a different field
Public Universites

3. Matriculation certificate offered by MOE

The Ministry of Education (MOE) matriculation certificate is a programme that prepares students for degree courses in science, accountancy and technical fields at public universities. This programme is mainly for Bumiputra students with 10% of the seats open to non-Bumiputra candidates. Private universities in Malaysia and some foreign universities do recognise this qualification as the minimum entry requirement for a degree programme.
There are one- and two-year programmes offered where students typically undergo a continuous assessment, mid-semester test and semester examination. Students in the two-year programme learn the same subjects as the one-year programme but at a slower pace.

Examples of core subjects:

  • Science Stream
    • Module I: Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics, Biology
    • Module II: Mathematics, Chemistry, Physics and Computer Science
    • Module III: Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology and Computer Science
  • Accountancy Stream
    • Mathematics, Accounting, Business Management and Economics
  • Technical Stream
    • Mathematics, Engineering Chemistry, Engineering Physics and Engineering Studies

In addition to the subjects within the areas of ​​specialisation, the following subjects are compulsory for all students:-

  • English
  • Dynamic skills
  • Islamic / Moral education
  • Information technology

Students are also required to participate in a sport or game, a society or club, or marching.


  • this is a tailor-made pre-university programme that leads to a degree programme at public universities
  • the qualification is recognised by MOE as the minimum entry for degree programmes at public universities
  • students can choose from three fields of study
  • the programme is subsidised by the government and students pay only a minimal fee

(Note: The courses listed may not be up-to-date)

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