Studying in Kuala Lumpur

Studying in Kuala Lumpur
Updated 2022-05-12 12:31

Kuala Lumpur is ranked second in the world in terms of affordability of higher education. The city is a thriving center of excellence in matters of education and student diversity. It is home to training centers, universities and colleges that offer locally accredited and internationally recognized basic training, diplomas, bachelor's and master's degrees. Kuala Lumpur is also distinguished by the welcome it offers to foreign students. There, one can have the opportunity to meet people of all nationalities and backgrounds, while receiving a world-class education.

Malaysia, and in particular Kuala Lumpur, is an increasingly popular student haven in Asia and for the world. The country has many options for those who really wish to acquire solid skills. Most of the best national tertiary institutions in Malaysia are located in Kuala Lumpur or its surrounding areas. For example, the Accredited Skills Training Centers offer specialized vocational training, while allowing students to acquire internationally recognized qualifications that can include City and Guilds (UK), the Confederation of Tourism, Hotel and Catering Management (UK), LCCI (UK), TAFE (Australia), etc. Such courses are reserved for students aged 16 to 35.

Many language schools in Kuala Lumpur offer short courses focusing on language and computer skills. Accredited by the local authorities, these schools are reserved for students aged 18 to 35. Enrollment in language schools requires a short-term student visa for a maximum of six months at one time. Such visas can be renewed if you wish to pursue a higher-level course (for more information on this, see our article on different types of visas available in Malaysia and the different immigration procedures). In addition, there are many internationally recognized centers in KL that hold European language examinations. These institutions parallelly offer excellent language courses, and students can, for example, obtain diplomas in Spanish language studies (DELE), diplomas in French language studies (DELF), as well as certificates of proficiency in the German language (Goethe Zertifikat, GZ), among others.

Public universities offer bachelor's and master's or doctoral programs, while polytechnic, communal, and public colleges award degrees and certificates. These institutions all benefit from strong government funding, with the authorities relying heavily on tertiary education to shine internationally.

The University of Malaya

the University of Malaya (UM) is considered one of the flagships of tertiary education in Malaysia. This was seconded by the QS World University Ranking 2022 (65th overall). Such a position contributes greatly to the country's reputation as a top destination for study. Accordingly, UM's goal is to be recognized as an internationally renowned academic institution in the areas of research, innovation, publishing and teaching

UM opened its doors in 1905 and is the oldest public university in Malaysia. The reputation of this university, where excellence is as much a philosophy as a way of life, has never stopped growing. For example, UM was ranked 65th among the top 100 universities in the world in 2022, according to Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rankings, one of the three most reputable university rankings in the world. UM has been part of the closed circle of the 100 best universities in the world since 2019, when it started ranking at 87th place. Ever since, UM has built this strong reputation through its extensive educational methodology in areas such as social sciences, humanities, engineering and technology, where it also holds an excellent position globally.

UM's current student population is nearly 4,500 international students, out of a total enrollment of over 29,000 students.

University Putra Malaysia

Ranked second in Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) was founded in the early 1930s as an agricultural institution. It was later transformed into a university, welcoming its first class in 1973. This tertiary institution is located in Serdang, slightly outside the city, but it is still very accessible thanks to the excellent public transport links available in Kuala Lumpur. The recognized capabilities of this university in agriculture and forestry management training are reflected in its ranking. UPM is indeed among the top 100 universities in the world in these fields, according to the QS ranking.

Ranked 143rd overall globally in 2022, up from 360th position in 2012, UPM has grown in popularity over the years, transforming itself over time into a destination of choice for international students. The student population is approximately 24,000, of which 4,500 are of foreign origins. Remarkably, the majority of postgraduate students at UPM are non-Malaysian citizens. Proof, if necessary, of the quality of this institution for overseas studies.

University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

Located in Bangi, which is located at a stone's throw from Putrajaya, the administrative capital of Malaysia, the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), or National University of Malaysia, has a large international student population. The majority of this student population is studying for a doctorate. After opening its doors in 1971, the UKM has built an excellent reputation, and in 2022 it lies at 184th place in the QS world rankings. The motto of this institution is about inspiring promising futures and nurturing possibilities via knowledge internationalization while being rooted in local culture. The university emphasizes ethnological studies and is also renowned for its political and theological programs.

Private institutions

Private higher education institutions cluster in Malaysia consists of private universities, overseas university campuses, and private colleges that issue their own degrees and certificates. The cost of studying in a private institution is often higher than in a public institution, but some of them offer the possibility of completing semesters or spending an entire year on a campus abroad thanks to excellent student exchange programs. Many expatriate students choose to study in such institutions, many of which allow them to acquire advanced and/or technical skills in different fields. Some even enjoy real international influence, in Asia or elsewhere.

Taylor's Education Group (TEG)

Ranked 14th in the QS World Rankings in Hospitality and Leisure Management, Taylor's University is in high demand among international students seeking studies focused on hospitality-related professions. The university is associated with Taylor's College and a number of international schools that award pre-university degrees. Exchanges are frequent with foreign establishments, and training is mainly focused on the professionalization of its members.

Monash University

Monash University is another prized destination in Malaysia for international students. It is located in Bandar Sunway, an industrial area of ​​Kuala Lumpur especially known for hosting a sprawling entertainment complex that includes carrousels, a zoo and a water park. The institution has been ranked second best university in the world for studies in pharmacology and pharmacy by the QS World University Rankings in 2021 and in 2022. The Monash University of Malaysia is actually a branch of the Australian university of the same name, and thus allows students from Malaysia to access Australian education at a more affordable cost, due to greater financial accessibility. Monash ranks 58th in the 2022 QS world ranking. That is the highest-ranking among all Malaysian tertiary institutions. Home to over 23,000 international students, Monash University further provides its students with the opportunity to study abroad through exchange programs, inter-campus mobility, and other faculty options.

University of Nottingham, Malaysia Campus

The University of Nottingham (UNMC) Malaysia campus is a branch of the British institution that was founded in 1881 in the United Kingdom. The Malaysian campus is currently one of three campuses of this institution, the third being located in China. The UNMC opened its doors in 2000, intaking from its inception a thriving international community while aggregating a rigorous body of research. The university is home to Crops for The Future, a research institute focused on sustainable agri-food crops.

According to the Good University Guide of famous London newspaper The Times, UNMC is “Britain's closest tertiary institution to a truly global university, with branches in Malaysia and China modeled from a parent institution that is among Britain's most attractive ones. The strengths of UNMC are certainly its high world ranking (82nd in the world in 2019) and the possibility of obtaining a British degree at a much lower cost than if you would study in Great Britain. In 2005, UNMC moved from its original location of Selangor to Semenyih, about 30 kilometers south of Kuala Lumpur. The establishment has approximately 5,000 students coming from more than 85 countries and a teaching team of approximately 700 professors and members of the administration. Students have the opportunity to travel to Chinese or UK campuses and benefit from several exchange programs with renowned universities around the world.

Other institutions

Beyond previously mentioned establishments, Malaysia has an extensive network of private schools that specialize in design, art or technology. You can find out more about these institutions by inquiring about upcoming education fairs in your country or region, or even by getting in touch with one of the many university agents promoting higher education in Malaysia such as Bridge Blue Pty, E&M Education Counseling Centre, Gen Education, Global Education and Immigration Centre, AC Services Enterprise and many more. Most of these agents are well established in Kuala Lumpur and can give very specific information on the study possibilities available in Malaysia's largest city.

Once you have chosen your course, visit the Education Malaysia (EMGS) website to find out how to apply and what documents are needed to study in Kuala Lumpur. You can also browse our Malaysia forum and get information from our members who are already there, while settling the beginnings of a local network. This could turn out to be useful to you once in Malaysia, and embrace all the advantages offered by life as soon as you arrive as a student in Kuala Lumpur.

Useful links:

Accredited Vocational Training Centers

QS World University Rankings

UKM Website

UKM, QS Information and Ranking Page

UPM, QS Information and Classification Page

Goethe Institute Malaysia

Alliance Française KL

Aula Cervantes KL

British Council Malaysia

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.