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Getting a bachelor's degree abroad

by StudyMalaysia on December 15, 2016 | Top Stories

Getting a bachelor’s degree abroad – how does the ‘Advanced Standing’ pathway work?

Malaysia's private colleges has a well-developed transnational education or 'advanced standing' structure since the early 1980s. This has enabled students who are unable to study abroad in countries like the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, China and Taiwan for a full 3-year duration (due to financial constraints) to have an option of doing part of their degree in Malaysia.

'Advanced standing' means that recognition (full or part) is given by a foreign university for a particular course pursued at a Malaysian PHEI (such as a diploma or Year 1 or Year 2 of a bachelor's degree) that allows a student advanced entry into the foreign university’s degree programme.

If you're looking for an overseas learning experience but have a limited budget, choosing a course that has a credit transfer or advanced standing arrangement with foreign universities can be the solution.

The features of this programme are:

  • Local PHEIs cooperate with one or a consortium of overseas universities
  • The course curriculum of local PHEIs is recognised with either full or part exemption for a foreign degree programme
  • Students of local PHEIs have a choice of many overseas universities (within the consortium) to choose from to complete their degree programme
  • The degree qualification is awarded by the overseas university, subject to the student completing the course and meeting graduation requirements

There are two pathways to advanced entry into a foreign university’s degree programme:

i) Foreign degree qualification via a diploma pathway

Many internally-developed diploma level programmes offered by PHEIs are recognised and granted ‘advanced standing’ status by foreign universities in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK, Germany, France, China, Taiwan and the US for their bachelor’s degree programmes. Students who have completed the ‘advanced standing’ status diploma are accepted at the second or third year of the degree programme overseas, subject to the articulation agreements.

Table: Examples of ‘Advanced Standing arrangement’ that leads to a foreign university bachelor’s degree via a Malaysian diploma qualification

Diploma from private HEIs with advanced standing status Leading to a bachelor’s degree qualification Awarding foreign university Duration of study overseas Marketing and Advertising (awarded by IACT College) (2.5 yrs) Advanced standing to BA (Hons) Interior and Spatial Design RMIT University, Aust Duration: 1.5 years in the Austration Business Administration (awarded by Erican College) (2 yrs) Advanced standing to B.A.(Hons) Accountancy and Business Birmingham City University, UK Duration: 2 years  in the UK
Diploma in Advertising & Graphic Design (Awarded by The One Academy of Communication Design) (3 yrs) Advanced standing to Bachelor of Fine Arts (Advertising Design) College for Creative Studies, USA Duration: 2 year (min.) in the USA

(Source: From respective institution)

ii) Foreign degree qualification via a degree pathway

Many Malaysian private university degree programmes (Year 1 and Year 2 curriculum) are recognised by partner universities overseas with ‘advanced standing’ entry status. Therefore students who have completed Year 1 or Year 2 of a degree programme in PHEIs are accepted as the second or final year students of the degree programmes of respective partner universities overseas. This arrangement allows undergraduate students of local private universities to have the option of graduating with a foreign degree qualification from a university overseas. 

Table: Some examples of advanced standing arrangements that lead to a foreign university bachelor’s degree (horizontal credit transfer pathway)

No. Degree from private university with ‘Advanced Standing’ status Years in Malaysia Overseas bachelor’s degree qualification Awarded by overseas university Duration of study at overseas university
1. 4-year Bachelor of Pharmacy (Hons)  (offered by International Medical University) 2 years (Year 1 & 2) at International Medical University Bachelor of Pharmacy (BPharm) University of Otago, NZ 2 years 2 mths (Year 3 & 4) in NZ
2. 4-year Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons) (offered by Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur) Completed 2nd year at Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur MEng (Civil Engineering) University of Portsmouth, UK 2 years in UK
3. 3-year BSc (Hons) Food Science with Nutrition (offered by UCSI University) 1.5 years at UCSI Bachelor of Nutrition & Dietetics Queensland University of Technology, Australia 3 years in Australia
4. 3-year Bachelor of Construction Management and Economics (Hons) (offered by Tunku Abdul Rahman University College) 3 years at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College BSc (Hons) International Construction Management and Economics Sheffield Hallam University, UK 1 semester in UK
Advantages of advanced standing programmes

Generally, if you choose a degree programme that is recognised with advanced standing status, you will:

  • have the flexibility to acquire a degree qualification that is awarded by a foreign university
  • enjoy substantial cost savings in acquiring a foreign degree qualification as you will spend the first one to two years studying at a Malaysian PHEI
  • have a wide option of universities and courses
  • have the advantage of experiencing learning and life as a student in two countries
  • have the option of completing the entire degree programme in Malaysia if you face financial constraints during your studies (please note that if a student completes the entire programme at a private university in Malaysia, the degree will be awarded by the Malaysian private university)

Sources for this article include:

  • Study in Malaysia Handbook (10th International Edition), published by Challenger Concept)
  • Education Guide Malaysia (14th Edition), published by Challenger Concept)
  • Information from various PHEIs

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