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Affordable, Quality-Assured Education

by StudyMalaysia.com on June 1, 2017 | Why Study in Malaysia, Top Stories

Affordable, Quality-Assured Education

The cost-effective, high quality tertiary education is one of the many reasons why the current 125,000 international students choose Malaysia.

Here’s an example of how an international students can enjoy substantial savings. By choosing to study at a foreign university branch campus in Malaysia, the student will study the same course and will be awarded the same degree as that of the main campus; however, the student will pay lower tuition fees and spend less as the cost of living in Malaysia is considerably lower. In addition, depending on the course, students can choose whether to spend part of their studies at the main campus.

The table below shows a cost comparison between studying at Heriot Watt University Malaysia and Heriot Watt University UK, and the estimated savings depending on how many years is spent studying in Malaysia and the UK respectively.

Engineering (Malaysia & UK) Total Cost Savings
Number of years (4+0) (=4 yrs in Malaysia)

Total cost (MFP & 4+0)



Number of years overseas (2+2) (=2yrs in Malaysia + 2 yrs in UK

Total cost (MFP & 2+2)



Number of years overseas(1+3)

Total cost (MFP & 1+3)



Number of years overseas(0+4)(= 4 yrs in UK)

Total cost (A-levels & 0+4)




Exchange rate: 1GBP=RM6.50

Source: Heriot-Watt University Malaysia

The Quality Assurance System and Accreditation

A college or university education remains one of the best investments students can make for their future. While affordability is an important factor for students when choosing a college or university, they should not compromise the quality of education they deserve.

As such, students from all over the world (like you!) would be pleased to know that higher learning institutions in Malaysia are governed by a stringent quality assurance system.

  1. The Malaysian Qualifications Agency
  2. ISO 9001 certification
  3. Articulation agreements
  4. Awards
  5. My Quest and SETARA rating systems
  6. Highly qualified lecturers and excellent academic facilities

1. The Malaysian Qualifications Agency

Affordable, Quality-Assured Education The national quality assurance agency of Malaysia is known as the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) which was established on 1 November 2007 under the Malaysian Qualifications Agency Act 2007. Its key function is to ensure that all programmes and qualifications offered by higher education providers meet the minimum standard set out by MQA.

In general, MQA quality assures programmes through two distinct processes:

  1. Provisional Accreditation - an exercise that determines whether a programme has met the minimum quality requirements preliminary to Full Accreditation.

  2. Full Accreditation - an assessment exercise that ascertains if the teaching, learning and all other related activities of a programme provided by a higher education provider have met the quality standards and are in compliance with the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF).

MQF provides a unified system to interlink all the qualifications awarded in and to serve as a reference point for all Malaysian national qualifications.

It develops and classifies qualifications based on a set of criteria that has been approved nationally and is at par with international good practices at the level of learning attained by the learners. This includes learning outcomes achieved and a credit system which is based on the learner’s academic load. All the qualifications in the framework are based upon four classifications, which are: learning outcomes; credit; objectives; and field of study.

An example of MQA’s continual cooperation with quality assurance bodies from other countries took place in May 2016. MQA and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) signed a Memorandum of Arrangement for cooperation in the field of quality assurance in areas such as information exchange, staff development, exchange of experts and joint research. It is hoped that MQA and QQI will undertake a comparability exercise on quality assurance and qualifications systems of both countries to help ease the recognition of qualifications offered in Malaysia and Ireland.

What does MQA do?

  • implement the national framework known as MQF
  • accredit higher educational programmes and qualifications
  • supervise and regulate the quality and standard of higher education providers
  • establish and maintain the Malaysian Qualifications Register
  • facilitate the recognition and articulation of qualifications
  • evaluate and assess the comparability of foreign qualifications against the MQF

2. ISO 9001 certification

Many higher education institutions in Malaysia have implemented or are working towards implementing the ISO 9001 standard, a mechanism that provides clear guidelines for the top management of an institution or university to improve the effectiveness of their education system.

Properly implemented, ISO 9001 will bring the following to the education institution:

  • a shift in emphasis from a focus on the quality of the teacher towards the performance of the institution as a whole
  • the introduction of new or additional quality control mechanisms in higher education
  • the creation of quality assurance systems and performance-related mechanisms in continuing education and training

More and more colleges and universities have sought to improve their educational quality through a better quality management system and have implemented ISO 9001 as part of that process.

Source: Advisera, 'Should universities implement ISO 9001?'

3. Articulation agreements with foreign university partners and exemptions by professional bodies

Some colleges or universities in Malaysia have articulation agreements and credit recognition arrangements with foreign university partners that document formal agreements for the provision of academic credit or qualification recognition. It is also common for some professional bodies to offer exemptions of certain modules or subjects that are deemed to have met the minimum study requirements. These arrangements undergo stringent audits before they are approved; and are a testimony of the quality of education offered by private colleges and universities in Malaysia.

4. Awards from competitions and industry recognition

In its quest to be industry relevant, many colleges and universities take part in competitions that allow their students to gain exposure with the industry. From showcasing their inventions at an expo to carrying out a business plan, students can rest assured that their learning is not confined to the classroom.

5. MyQuest and SETARA rating systems

The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) carries out two official rating systems for higher learning institutions:

  • The Malaysia Quality Evaluation System (MYQUEST) was introduced in 2011 for private colleges. Find out the rankings of colleges here:

  • The Rating System for Higher Education Institutions (SETARA) is carried out by MQA and measures the teaching and learning aspects of public and private universities, and university colleges in Malaysia. More information can be found at www.mqa.gov.my.

6. Highly qualified lecturers and excellent academic facilities

The higher education sector in Malaysia boasts of about 79,000 academics, out of which about 20,000 hold a PhD qualification or equivalent. In the last decade (2005-2014), Malaysia’s research landscape has grown by 594%, with a corresponding three-fold increase in publications from 2007-2012 and four-fold increase in citations during the same period.

It is the goal of the Malaysian government to increase the number of professionals with a postgraduate qualification in the country. Through scholarship schemes like MyBrain15, the government aims to produce 60,000 PhD holders among the people of Malaysia by 2023.

9 colleges received a six star rating in MyQUEST 2014/2015
  • KDU College Penang Campus, Penang
  • Kolej Segi Subang Jaya, Selangor
  • Kolej Sunway (Kuala Lumpur), Selangor
  • Kolej Taylor’s Subang Jaya, Selangor
  • Kolej Kesihatan Ramsay Sime Darby, Selangor
  • Kolej Taylor’s Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur
  • Kolej Teknologi Timur, Selangor
  • Institut Teknologi Maklumat Asia Pacific (APIIT), Kuala Lumpur
  • Kolej Stamford Petaling Jaya, Selangor

Source: MyQuest 2014/2015


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

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