Studying in Kuala Lumpur
Updated 10 months ago

Ranked 2nd in the world in terms of affordability for students, Kuala Lumpur is a thriving centre of educational excellence and student diversity. The city is home to training centres, universities and colleges that offer foundation courses, diplomas, undergraduate degrees and postgraduate courses that are locally accredited and internationally recognised.  Kuala Lumpur is notable for how welcoming it is to foreign students from across the world. Here, you will have the opportunity to meet people of all nationalities and backgrounds while gaining a world-class education.

Training centres

Accredited Skills Training Centres provide specialised vocational training while allowing students opportunities to gain internationally recognised qualifications including City and Guilds (UK), Confederation of Tourism, Hotel and Catering Management (UK), LCCI (UK), TAFE (Australia) amongst others. These are reserved for students between the age of 16 and 35.

Useful link:

Accredited Skills Training Centres

Language schools

Language Schools in Kuala Lumpur offer short courses that focus on language skills and computer literacy skills amongst others. These are reserved for students between the age of 18 and 35 and are registered with the local authorities. Enrolling in language schools involves short student visas of a maximum of six months at a time, that are renewable if you wish to continue into a higher level course. There are many internationally recognised European language testing sites in KL for the DELE, DELF and GZ, some of which also provide courses in the language.

Useful links:

Goethe Institut Malaysia
Alliance Française KL
Aula Cervantes KL
British Council Malaysia

Public universities

Public universities provide graduate and undergraduate programmes while polytechnics, community, and public colleges provide diplomas and certifications. These institutions are government funded.

University of Malaya (UM)

As the country's highest ranked public institution in the QS World University Ranking 2019(19th in Asia), UM is at the forefront of Malaysia's rise as a reputable educational destination. According to its website, UM's vision is to 'be an internationally-renowned institution of higher learning in research, innovation, publication, and teaching,' and its mission is to do so through quality research and education. As the oldest public University in Malaysia, UM opened its doors in 1905 and has risen to be part of the world's top 100 universities (87th in 2019). UM has, in addition, become known for fields such as social sciences, humanities and engineering and technology in which it ranks highly on a global scale.

The current student population consists of over 2,500 international students for a total student population of over 24,000 students.

Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

Ranked second in Malaysia, UPM was first established as an agricultural institution in the early 1930s. It then went on to become a university, inviting its first cohort of students in 1973. The university is located in Serdang, a little outside of the city but highly accessible by public transport. Its legacy in the field of Agriculture and Forestry remains visible through its ranking as one of the top 100 around the world for this discipline.

Globally ranked at the 202nd spot, UPM has risen in global ratings through the years, becoming a destination for international students to consider. The postgraduate population is currently 76.6% international, a testament to this institution's popularity.

UPM QS information and ranking page

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

Based in Bangi, on the outskirts of Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia, UKM has a vibrant international student population, with the majority of its postgraduates being from abroad. Having opened its doors in 1971, UKM has gone on to achieve a great reputation, ranking 184th globally. The motto of this institution is to inspire futures and nurture possibilities and it does so by internationalising knowledge rooted in the local culture. It is ranked in the top 100 in the field of Theology, Divinity and Religious studies and has a strong focus on Ethnic studies.

Useful links:

UKM website
UKM QS information and ranking page

Private higher education institutions

These consist of private universities, foreign university campuses and private colleges that provide their own degree qualifications, diplomas and certificates. The cost of studying at a private institution is often higher than that of a public institution but some of them provide the opportunity for semesters abroad or mobility between foreign campuses.

Taylor's Education Group (TEG)

Ranked 14th in the QS world rankings for Hospitality and Leisure management, Taylor's University is highly in demand with international students looking for career-centric studies. The university is accompanied by Taylor's College, which provides pre-degree qualifications as well as a number of international schools.

Monash University

Located in Bandar Sunway, Monash University is another popular destination for international students. It was ranked 3rd by QS World University Rankings for Pharmacology and Pharmacy and is the heart of a vibrant student community in the area. Monash University, a branch of the Australian campus gives the opportunity for students to access Australian education at a lower cost, thanks to Malaysia's affordability. It is ranked 59th globally and is home to well over 23,000 international students. The university furthermore gives its students the ability to participate in the overseas study through exchange programs, intercampus mobility and overseas faculty options.

The University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus (UNMC)

The University of Nottingham, Malaysia campus is a branch of the British institution founded in 1881 in the UK. The campus is currently one of three, with the other being in China. UNMC opened its doors in 2000, paving the way with a thriving international community and a rigorous research portfolio. The university is home to Crops For The Future, a research institute focused on sustainable food crops. The strong points of this institution are certainly its high global ranking (87th Worldwide in 2019) and the opportunity to obtain a British degree at a much lower cost. Located in Selangor, UNMC is about 40 km away from central Kuala Lumpur. It moreover, offers the opportunity for students to move between campuses or participate in exchange programs around the world.

Useful link:

QS World Rankings

How to enroll

In addition to the above, Malaysia has a large network of private colleges specialising in Design, Art or Technology. You can find out more about Malaysian institutions by keeping abreast of the latest career fairs in your country or region or by getting in touch with one of the many university agents that work to promote international students in Malaysia.

Once you've selected your diploma or degree program, visit Education Malaysia (EMGS) to find out how to apply and what documents you will need for your application to study in Kuala Lumpur.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.