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What you need to know when applying to a university in Malaysia

by StudyMalaysia on November 29, 2016 | Top Stories

What you need to know when applying to a university in Malaysia

For many students, the prospect of studying at a college or university is an exciting one. You will be in a new environment, make new friends, learn new things and for some of you, have the chance to live away from home.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves – before you apply for a college or university, you need to know what study opportunities you have at higher education level and understand the study pathways available to you. Further, you need to find out more about the institution you’re thinking of applying to, for example, its admission requirements, its reputation, the facilities they offer, and many others.

1. There are many higher education options in Malaysia

If you have completed or are about to complete your secondary schooling, chances are you would be considering further education. Some of you may be considering education abroad but let us first explore the many higher education options available to you in Malaysia.

In the diagram below, we can see the how various pre-university programmes can lead you to a bachelor’s degree. In fact, what is more interesting is the numerous programme types available at bachelor degree level – from home-grown degree programmes to those offered by foreign university branch campuses. There are also twinning programmes and credit transfer degree programmes that allow you to complete part of your degree in Malaysia and the remaining part at the partner university abroad.

Types of programmes offered at private HEIs for students with pre-U qualifications Types of programmes offered at private HEIs for students with pre-U qualifications

Note: Public Universities accept STMP or MOE's matriculation certificate with MUET qualification for entry into Year 1 Bachelor's Degree.

Source: Education Guide Malaysia (12th Edition published by Challenger Concept (M) Sdn Bhd) (Graphics by Challenger Concept).

2. The general entry requirements for college and university

Education Level General Entry Requirement
Pre-university studies SPM/IGCSE or O level with 5 credits, or its equivalent
Certificate level SPM/IGCSE or O level with  1 credit, or its equivalent
Diploma level SPM/I GCSE or O level with 3 credits, or its equivalent
Year 1 bachelor degree GCE A levels + English proficiency or its equivalent

3. The process of applying

Gaining admission to a private HEI is quite different from applying to a public university. First, you need to apply directly to the college or university you are interested in. Second, you have more control over your choice of institution. As an example, when you apply to a public university, it goes through a centralised selection system. You are given a limited choice of courses to apply for, then if your application is successful, you will be offered a seat at a particular university for a specific course – usually (but not always) from your list of choices during your application. In contrast, when applying for a place at a private HEI, you can apply to as many institutions as you like, and if you secure several offers, you have the liberty of choosing the course and the institution that you want.

To apply for a pre-university programme at a private HEI, you will need to have SPM or IGCSE qualifications or its equivalent. For a bachelor’s degree programme, the entry requirement is a pre-university qualification – however, the type of subjects and the academic achievement required differs from course to course, and from one institution to another. In addition, it would be wise to check how many intakes there are a year, and which intake has the timing that suits you best. So plan early if you intend to apply for a course at a private HEI. Because you have so many options, it’s a good idea to weigh your options carefully before deciding.

4. The Checklist

Our ‘Checklist’ is a super handy list of items you need to consider before applying to study in a HEI in Malaysia. Not all the items may be relevant to you, but do seek advice before accepting or applying for a study programme if you are unsure. A good place to start would be to talk to school seniors, your school counsellor or teachers, your parents, or the college you want to apply to, or Ask StudyMalaysia.

  • Before you enrol for a programme, ensure that the programme meets your budget - don't forget to cost in accommodation, textbooks and other expenditure
  • Make sure that you meet the entry requirements for the programme
  • You also need to ensure that the institution is approved my MOHE, and the course accredited by MQA
  • Do also confirm that the qualifications you obtain upon graduation enables you to pursue the career you want
  • Check out the academic study environment, academic support, as well as the qualifications and experience of the lecturers of the particular course you’re interested in
  • When deciding on a college or university, consider also the mix of students, facilities and extra-curricular activities offered
  • Is the programme a good match to your personality and interests?

Questions you can ask the college or university before making a decision:

  • Is there an internship programme?
  • What's the employability record of the institution's graduates?
  • What subjects do you offer in this curriculum?
  • What's the assessment method for the programme?
  • What's the minimum CGPA score to graduate?
  • What’s the passing rate for the last three intakes of students?
  • What makes this programme special?
  • Tell me about the facilities on campus.
  • What types of jobs can I apply for when you graduate from this programme?
  • What are your course fees?
  • Who awards this qualification?
  • Is the qualification recognised by ___________ (name of professional body if it’s a professional course)?
  • Is there opportunity for studying abroad?
  • What are qualifications of the lecturers in this faculty?
  • What types of financial aid does your institution offer?
  • What’s the mix of students at the college like?
  • What are your application procedures?

Source: Education Guide Malaysia (14th edition), published by Challenger Concept

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