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Malaysia is investing heavily in turning itself into a leading study destination, and its efforts appear to be paying off - a growing number of international students are opting to study in Malaysia.
While not yet quite at the same level as Asian higher-education leaders such as China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, Malaysia is certainly among the region’s emerging contenders.
International branch campuses, run by universities based in other countries, are a large part of Malaysia's plan for higher education expansion. Existing branch campuses include those operated by the University of Nottingham, UK, and Monash University, Australia, and the new EduCity development will provide shared facilities for even more foreign-run universities.
But, while the growing presence of overseas universities in Malaysia is broadening the country’s higher education offering, its home-grown universities should certainly not be overlooked.
The country’s highest-ranking institution in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings is Universiti Malaya (UM) at 156. Also in the world’s top 500 are Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (261), Universiti Sains Malaysia (326), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (358) Universiti Putra Malaysia (360), and International Islamic University Malaysia.
Many private universities in Malaysia offer a ‘twinning’ or ‘2+1’ degree option. These have been running in Malaysia for around 20 years, and allow students to complete part of their degree in Malaysia, and part at a partner institution in another country.
These courses have been popular, as they offer the chance to gain a degree accredited by a prestigious university in an established higher education destination (such as the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, France or Germany) without spending as much as this would usually cost.
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One of the main attractions of studying in Malaysia is the relatively low cost of fees and living expenses – certainly when compared to countries like the UK and US.
But Malaysia is much more than just a budget option. It’s also home to one of Asia’s most exciting cities, some of its most beautiful landscapes, and one of the world’s most culturally diverse societies.
Beyond the EduCity development, many of of the top universities in Malaysia are based in and around capital city Kuala Lumpur – a buzzing metropolis which boasts the tallest skyscrapers in southeast Asia.
For those who want to make their study-abroad experience a real adventure, there’s plenty of scope to explore a diverse variety of landscapes – from orang-utan sanctuaries and rainforest, to beautiful beaches and islands.
While Malaysia is a very tolerant and open society, you should be aware of local norms regarding clothing – in order to respect these, you’ll need to stay fairly well covered. As for the weather, two words suffice: hot and wet. Take a raincoat, several umbrellas, and plenty of sunscreen.
See where Kuala Lumpur ranks in the QS Best Student Cities >
As of 2012, Malaysia is the world’s 11th largest exporter of educational services, and host to more than 90,000 international students from 100 different countries. However, the government has much bigger ambitions. It has set a target of becoming the world’s sixth largest education exporter by 2020, and having 200,000 international students by that point.
Among the initiatives introduced to achieve this is a new agency, known as Malaysian Education Global Services (MEGS), which will provide assistance for foreign students applying to study in Malaysia.
Also at the center of Malaysia’s investment in higher education is the new EduCity Iskandar development, in the south of the country. EduCity is a huge shared campus, which when completed will be home to eight universities – all of them run by existing universities in other countries.
Teaching has already begun at several of these branch universities, including the medical college opened by the UK’s Newcastle University, and is due to commence at several others in the near future. Once fully completed, the site will offer not only a range of degrees accredited by internationally prestigious institutions, but also shared facilities far more impressive than most individual universities would be able to afford – including an Olympic-sized swimming pool and a 14,000-seat sports stadium.
Would you like to study in Malaysia? Tell us why in the comments below.
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