Studying in Malaysia: Pros and Cons

Malaysia is not only an emerging country in the economic sense but also in the education sector: international students around the world are considering studying in Malaysia to increase their qualifications.

Studying abroad in general and in Malaysia, in particular, offers many perks, but moving abroad is a difficult process. Here are some pros and cons of studying in Malaysia to help you understand what to expect and plan.

Pro: quality of education

For the last decade or so, Malaysia has been constantly improving the quality of education in their country. Now, the programs in their universities, especially STEM ones taught in English, are attracting students from students worldwide. This made Malaysia an especially attractive hotspot to students from all across Asia looking to be educated on these highly demanded and technical fields.

Besides their national universities, Malaysia is also home to branches to a number of prestigious foreign universities, such as Monash University and the University of Nottingham.

Enrolling in programs in these university branches may give you a chance to continue your studies in the universities’ home campuses: Melbourne, Australia for Monash, and, of course, Nottingham, England for the University of Nottingham.

Con: lack of scholarship opportunities

Unfortunately, while Malaysian universities are striving to increase their quality of education, it doesn’t seem like providing scholarships to international students is in the plans. The currently available scholarships are few and far between, and the requirements to qualify are considered difficult to fulfill.

Therefore, if you plan to finish a degree in Malaysia, you will have to plan your education costs accordingly and make sure you have enough funds.

Pro: affordability

However, Malaysia is considered affordable for international students. This is especially true if you compare the costs of living in Malaysia and in other countries popular among international students, like the UK, US, and Australia.

According to the QS Top Universities Best Student Cities 2022 rankings, not only is Kuala Lumpur a top-rated city for students, especially among Asian cities, it is also rated 100/100 in affordability.

Con: limited job opportunities for students

It is possible to work and study in Malaysia. In fact, Malaysia has a specified, though long and complicated, pathway for international students to be able to work legally. Under a valid permit, you may work part-time (that is, for a maximum of 20 hours a week) and only during semester breaks.

There are also restrictions about which jobs students can take. For example, international students aren’t allowed to work as cashiers. Students also aren’t allowed to take up jobs as musicians or masseurs as the rules consider them immoral.

Pro: friendly people and vibrant culture

Malaysian people are known to be friendly, and if you can connect with them, you’d quickly feel like you’re at home! The diversity of the people in Malaysia also makes for vibrant cultures and art that will fascinate you. In this regard, you’re sure to live a bright and fulfilling life!

Con: you likely won’t be able to stay

Unfortunately, while the people of Malaysia are likely to make you feel comfortable and homey, the prospects of settling here are thin. There is no pathway to be a resident in Malaysia, which would be challenging, as staying on a visa basis is less stable than residency or citizenship. There also isn’t a clear path to citizenship like in countries such as Canada and USA.

Besides, getting a job in Malaysia as a foreigner is difficult, as there are not many positions open for non-citizens. As we know, without residency or citizenship, as a foreigner you would need a valid visa (work or study) to stay.

Conclusion: weigh your options and prepare

Above are some things you need to consider if you’re looking to study in Malaysia. Studying abroad isn’t just about getting a degree in a foreign country, it is also about settling and building a new life, even for a while.

Once you’ve weighed your options and decided to go, you’ll need to apply for a student visa, which, we think, is easier than making that decision! Just prepare the needed documents and  photos meeting the requirements, and follow the instructions; your university will also help you in this process, so keep open communication with them. They may even help you weigh your options related to accommodation and job opportunities.