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Top 8 Reasons to Study in Malaysia

By Stephanie L

Updated March 17, 2021 Updated March 17, 2021

Sponsored by Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman

Located in southeast Asia between Singapore and Thailand, the welcoming and charming nation of Malaysia is filled with natural beauty and innovation, making it an up-and-coming study destination for thousands of students around the globe.

In fact, it’s the 11th most popular study destination worldwide according to UNESCO figures – and it’s not hard to see why. We spoke with a few students at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) – a top 15 university in Malaysia in the QS Asia University Rankings 2021, to find out what makes Malaysia a great place to study.

Its rising reputation in higher education global rankings

Ten years or so ago, Malaysia wasn’t reputed as an international study destination. Today, however, it’s a different story. In recent years, the Malaysian government has heavily invested in the country’s higher education sector with a vision of establishing it as a leading hub for education in southeast Asia and around the world.

Amjad Iqbal, originally from Pakistan, decided to pursue his PhD in Engineering at the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) in the Peninsular Malaysia region. “Malaysia is one of the best destinations for those looking for an internationally recognized education,” he told us. “Education in Malaysia will equip you with the tools to fuel your future.”

And it won’t just be the great quality of education you’ll benefit from either…

It’s easy on the student pocket

Compared with the US and UK, studying in Malaysia is still a very affordable option for international students.

“I don’t have to spend much to live here, and there are affordable tuition fees,” said Indonesian student, Muhammad Iqbal Budiawan who’s currently studying his Bachelors in Civil Engineering.

When it comes to cost of living, the average budget for an international student each year is around MYR 14,400 (~US$3,440-4,600). This includes food, travel and accommodation. Of course, you’ll still want to plan your budget as early as possible if you plan to spend some extra time travelling between semesters as international students are unable to work during term time.

In the QS Best Student Cities ranking, the country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur was named the world’s second most affordable city for students two years running – something which Amjad considered to be a massive appeal.

“As well as being at the forefront of quality education, Malaysia’s affordable cosmopolitan cities offer rich cultural immersion and memories that can last a lifetime,” he said.

What language barrier?

Young woman at market stall

Many Malaysian universities offer exclusive-English taught degree programs, such as the Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman. The university also offers short English language courses for those who would like to develop their speaking, reading, writing and listening skills.

While the country’s official language is Bahasa Malaysia, the English language is just as widely spoken while an abundance of other languages and dialects, including Mandarin, Cantonese, and Tamil can be heard all around.

Even if you have a good understanding of English, having a basic understanding of Bahasa Malaysia will be both useful and polite. In fact, it’s considered to be one of the easiest languages to learn in the world.

“Trust me,” said Muhammed. “You will be delighted when someone tells you that you speak better Bahasa Malaysia than the locals!”.

Become part of a rich and diverse culture

Malaysia’s diverse cultural heritage is reflected in its people, food, architecture, religions, festivals, and languages. Study here and you’ll find yourself fully immersed in every aspect of Malaysian culture.

“Malaysia is wonderful in all aspects,” said Muhammad. “The people here are very friendly no matter your race, ethnicity, or religion. I made lots of friends with people from various backgrounds and I got to learn their languages too.

“There are so many kinds of festivals too, which means holidays to enjoy the festivals. And the food! There is only one word to describe it – heaven! Basically, my favorite thing about studying in Malaysia is Malaysia itself,” Muhammad concluded.

Bask in perfect all-year-round weather

Those who shy away from the cold and rainy weather will love Malaysia’s year-round warm, sunny climate. Its warmest average temperature is 84.2 degrees Fahrenheit, while its coldest average temperature is only two degrees cooler at 82.4 degrees Fahrenheit (yes, you read that right!).

You’ll still want to pack an umbrella or waterproof though as spontaneous tropical rain showers hit Peninsular Malaysia between the months of April and October.

Malaysia is one of the ‘safest’ and ‘peaceful’ countries in the world

According to the Global Peace Index 2020, Malaysia is ranked as the 20th safest nation in the world and fifth safest in the Asia-Pacific region. Welcoming all religions and races, Malays, Chinese, Indian and indigenous groups populate the nation, making for a rich cultural heritage that can be appreciated and admired in the variety of festivals and cuisines which happen all over the country and throughout the year.

It also ranks as one of the world’s most biodiverse regions

The rhinoceros hornbill is the national bird of Malaysia

From endless miles of golden beaches to more than 30 national parks that showcase the Malaysian rainforest’s flora and fauna, it’s safe to say the country is a real natural gem for anyone who loves to get out in the great outdoors and explore to their heart’s content.

Many of Malaysia’s rainforests and national parks are also home to some of the world’s most incredible wildlife. The rhinoceros hornbill, famous for its bright, long curved bill and huge wing span, is the national bird of Malaysia, while the Malayan tiger, Asian elephant, and Malayan tapir are all native to the jungles of Peninsular Malaysia.

You can get out of your comfort zone

Exploring Malaysia

Moving to study overseas is an experience in itself, so it’s important to go in with an open mind. Although you’re there to earn a degree, you’re going to want to make the most of being in a new place to see and explore and meet new people who may even become lifelong friends.

Whether you’re moving half way across the world or hopping from one island to the next, it’s going to be a steep learning curve which goes one step further. It’s a chance to get out of your comfort zone, and become more independent and change the way you think and see things.

For Muhammad, making the move from Indonesia to Malaysia was something he felt necessary.

“For me, I wanted to get out of my comfort zone, but at the same time, I didn’t want to be too unfamiliar with the surroundings. So, my best option was Malaysia,” he explained.

This article was originally published in November 2020 . It was last updated in March 2021

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Written by

As the Head of Sponsored Content for TopUniversities.com and TopMBA.com, Stephanie creates and publishes a wide range of articles for universities and business schools across the world. She attended the University of Portsmouth where she earned a BA in English Language and an MA in Communication and Applied Linguistics.

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