Student Info & Guide

Cost of Studying and Living in Malaysia

by on June 13, 2017 | Why Study in Malaysia, Top Stories

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Cost of Studying and Living in Malaysia

One of many reasons why international students choose Malaysia is because of its cost-effective, high quality tertiary education. 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).

In a recent survey on the 'Most Affordable Cities for Students in 2016' QS University Ranking found that “Kuala Lumpur receives a near-perfect score for affordability, with a winning combination of low living costs and relatively low tuition fees”.

The major components of education cost are:

  • Course fees which include tuition fees and other study fees payable to the institution, depending on what you are studying and the duration of your course/study programme; and

  • Living expenses which will depend on where you are staying, your type of accommodation and your lifestyle.

Education Costs in Malaysia

Cost of Studying and Living 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 :

1. Academic Fees:

  • Registration fee
  • Tuition fee
  • Deposit
  • Computer/Science laboratory fee
  • Health & hospitalisation insurance premium
  • Library fee
  • Other incidental costs such as examination fees

2. Non-academic Fees:

  • Student visa fees
  • Medical check-up
  • Health and hospitalisation insurance premium

The breakdown of estimated tuition fees at various levels of study at private higher educational institutions (PHEIs) in Malaysia are outlined below :

A. Pre-University Programmes

If you have completed IGSCE or O-level and are looking for pre-university studies to prepare for a bachelor’s degree programme or professional courses, Malaysia offers a wide variety of pre-university 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 /



  • StudyMalaysia Research Team;
  • Education Guide Malaysia (14th edition)
  • Brochures & website of various colleges

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

B. 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 pre-university qualifications such as GCE A-Levels, SAM or other equivalent pre-university qualifications. 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:


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



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




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 &



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

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team; Brochures of some institutions

Estimated Tuition Fees for an American Degree Transfer Program:



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

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team and Study in Malaysia Handbook 8th International Edition)

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

Source: HELP University;  StudyMalaysia Research Team
(Estimated currency exchange rate: US$1=RM4.00; £1=RM5.50)
(Note: All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline)

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.)

C. Postgraduate studies

Public universities and PHEIs in Malaysia offer international students postgraduate programmes at very competitive tuition fees. The estimated tuition fees are as follows:

Estimated Course Fees for Master of Business Administration (MBA) Awarded by Malaysian Universities



Course Fee (RM)


Private universities

Master of Business Administration

RM25,000-36,000 per course (US$6,250-9,000)

1 to 1.5 years full-time

Public universities

Master of Business Administration

RM21,000-26,000 per course (US$5,250-6,500)

1 to 1.5 years full-time

Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team; brochures of some institutions

Cost Comparison for a UK MBA in Malaysia and UK:


Estimated Cost (Fees and Living Expenses) at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia Campus

Estimated Cost (Fees and Living Expenses) at Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh, UK (for international students)

MBA Fulltime (1 year)

Tuition fee: RM 55,800 (PT Only)
Living expenses: RM 36,000/year
TOTAL: RM91,800 or US$22,950

Tuition fee: £16,950 (Full Time)
Living expenses: £20,000 - £31,000/year
TOTAL: £36,950-47,950

Estimated Cost Savings when studying in Malaysia

Tuition Fee Savings: RM37,425 or US$9,356
Living Expenses Savings: RM 101,500 or US$25,375
TOTAL SAVING:RM138,925 or US$34,731

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

Cost of Living in Malaysia

Breakdown of living cost in Malaysia

The average international student should be prepared to spend about RM1,800 (US$450) per month for living expenses in the vinicity of a city. The cost can be broken down as:

  • Accommodation

    You should estimate about RM300 (US$75) to RM600 (US$150) 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, single-storey 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 or house).

  • Food / Housekeeping

    Your food and housekeeping expenses are estimated to be around RM600-900 (US$150- 225). This is based on about RM20-30 (US$5- 7.50) for three meals per day. Naturally, if you cook and share the cooking expenses with your friends, it would be cheaper.

    It’s possible to have a fast food meal for below RM10 (US$2.50) in Malaysia. For example, a McValue meal at McDonald’s starts at RM5.95. Meal sets at KFC start at RM6.90 and pizza deals for group meals from Domino’s are also below RM10 per pax.

    Local food like rice and noodles at food stalls or coffee shops range from RM4-10 (US$1-2.50). At mid-range restaurants, you can expect to pay RM20-40 for a meal (US$5-10). A coffee from Starbucks costs an average of RM12-16 (US$3-4).

  • Clothing and laundry

    Your clothing expenses like washing, ironing, dry-cleaning, etc. may cost around RM60 (US$15) per month.

  • Public Transport

    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 RM80-150 (US$20-37.5) 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 RM30-50 (US$7.50-12.50) per month.

  • Books, Reading Materials and Stationery

    Cost of Studying and Living in MalaysiaThe 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 / Hospitalisation Insurance

    If you put aside RM50 (US$12.50) per month for medical expenses, it would be suf cient (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 (US$125) per year.

  • Personal Expenses

    Your monthly personal expenses largely depend on your personal lifestyle. However, the cost can be estimated to be between RM100 (US$25) and RM200 (US$50). This includes your socialising needs, toiletries, haircut, clothes, movie, etc

Using the estimate above, the total cost of living for a student will average at RM1,800 (US$450) per month or RM21,600 (US$5,400) per year. It is important to remember that the above estimate is only a guide in planning your budget to study in Malaysia and geographical location and personal lifestyle should be factored in when planning your personal budget.

References :

  • Study in Malaysia Handbook (9th International Edition)
  • Brochures and websites of some institutions

Study in Malaysia Handbook 10th Ed.Source: Study in Malaysia Handbook 10th Ed.

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