5 Easy Guides to Enrol to USM | UPU vs Saluran Alternatif

5 Easy Guide to Enrol to USM | UPU vs Saluran Alternative

Is Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) your dream place to enrol? As Malaysia’s second-ranked institution, applicants will need to fight tooth and nail to study at one of their 5 campuses.

Why are students anxious to secure a place?

  1. It has a beautiful study environment.
    (So much so that it is often nicknamed The University in a Garden.)
  2. The tutors are experienced and dedicated to their fields of expertise.
  3. You will be surrounded by an enthusiastic and goal-driven community. 

Fun Fact:

Did you know that Universiti Sains Malaysia has an offshore medical programme in Belgaum, Bangalore, India?

Working with the Karnataka Lingayat Education (KLE) University, it offers international medical science programmes for students to study medical sciences. Graduates of the programme will receive a Doctor of Medicine (USM) after their 5-year studies.

Indeed, QS World Number 137 is a university that strives for excellence, making it an ideal place to kickstart your research project. How can you join this dream family? Let us get to know the 2 entry methods that are popular among Malaysian students, i.e., Unit Pengambilan Universiti (UPU) and Saluran Alternatif.

UPU vs Saluran Alternatif: Are they both the same?

No. While both platforms manage applications for university students across Malaysia, they are NOT THE SAME.

UPU is the “KL Sentral” for students to apply to

  1. Public Universities
  2. Polytechnics
  3. Community Colleges  
  4. Institut Kemahiran Awam (IKLA)

This is where many students prefer to register for their chosen schools and courses. Here, you can even include up to 12 options when you apply.

Meanwhile, Saluran Alternatif is like a highway into the designated university.

  1. Instead of going through a portal, you will be applying directly to the institution itself. 
  2. At Universiti Sains Malaysia, you can find 51 programmes to choose from.

1. How to Enrol with UPU and Saluran Alternatif?

Even with online applications open, both platforms handle university applications differently, like very differently.

If you are applying through UPU, you start off by

  1. Buy your PIN from a BSN ATM, or BSN branch, or buy online through MyBSN internet banking.
  2. Through your computer (not your smartphone or tablet), you then start setting up your application.
  3. Fill in the necessary information.
  4. Next, submit your exam results and wait for the announcement.
  5. After receiving your offer, you may make an appeal (Rayuan) if the offer does not match your needs. 

Saluran Alternatif is a direct application to Malaysian universities. Thus, you will need to

  1. Visit your chosen university’s official portal.
  2. Complete the essential details.
  3. Place your application.

2. How Quickly Can You Get Your Offer?

how quickly can you get your offer

Does applying early help speed up your application? Not necessarily. There are many factors that affect your application, including the filter process and the number of options you can choose in one go.

Take a look at how and why UPU’s processing time differs from the Saluran Alternatif’s.


  1. The Upside: It processes all 12 options you have selected before revealing your offer on the release date.
  2. The Down Side: With the mountain of options (courses and universities) to review, the waiting time for placement can take about 1–3 months.

Saluran Alternatif

  1. The UpsideAs you apply directly on the university’s portal, it takes around 7 working days to process an application.
  2. The Down Side: In this route, universities only process your application for the specific course you are applying for.

Note/ Tip:

Be sure to check the requirements and fees. They can vary with each platform. Or, you can always drop our counsellors a message for guidance.

3. Which Is harder? UPU or Saluran Alternatif?

Is UPU or Saluran Alternatif Harder?

Entry requirements are one of the main building blocks to enrolling into a university. Thus, meeting the essential conditions will put you a step closer to your desired course.

So, which pathway has the easier conditions?

The answer is that the entry requirements of both pathways are the same. What sets them apart are

  1. The Competitiveness: The Unit Pengambilan Universiti has much fiercer competition due to its high volume (with 115,477 applicants in 2022) and limited, exclusive places. Hence, it heightens the bar to filter the applicants. 
  2.  The Limited Slots: If you are wondering how competitive UPU is, here is the tea. In 2022, The Star discovered that 1,841 eligible candidates are aiming for their places in the medicine course. But, only 680 places are available across all Malaysian public universities. Even with a 3.85 CGPA, you may not be able to land your first choice! Yikes!

4. Is UPU Cheaper Than Saluran Alternatif?

is upu cheaper than saluran alternative

Did you know that the tuition fees offered for both pathways are the same? A degree at University Sains Malaysia still costs from RM7,450 to RM35,700 per semester and you WILL NOT be paying at an international student rate. The only difference is that one of these application platforms has the government’s aid to cover the tuition fees.

  • UPU: Thanks to the support from the government, the fees you need to pay will be much lower. For instance, a student with this offer will only need to pay RM 1,800 (per year) as opposed to the FULL annual fee of RM 12,883.
  • Saluran Alternatif: Fees paid through this route are higher because of the 0% subsidy, meaning you will need to pay the full amount of your tuition fees.

Despite that, there are other financial support you can look into. Among those offered at USM come from

  1. AFFIN Education Financing-i
  2. Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (also fondly known as the PTPTN loan)
  3. Yayasan Bank Rakyat
  4. Maybank

5. How Else Can I Enter USM?

how else can I enter usm

While UPU is a hotspot for students to hand in their course applications, the Saluran Alternatif is another alternative to get you into your desired institution. And we are happy to announce that Uni Enrol recently became an official online partner of Universiti Sains Malaysia!

Wait, Does That Mean One Is Better Than the Other? No.

Technically, you CAN apply for your education on BOTH application platforms. Though, be prepared to learn about the gaps between the two. To summarize their individual traits,

  1. The Unit Pengambilan Universiti has a longer processing time, a higher volume and is more competitive. However, it will allow you to enlist multiple options at a lower price.
  2. Saluran Alternatif, on the other hand, can cost more and requires a bit more manual work. But you do not have to wait long for your application status.

To wrap it up, deciding on a pathway is another form of investment, and you can make that happen. The most important thing for you is to keep your eyes and options open. Take your time to gather enough information. If you are still at a loss or have any questions, contact us on our socials!

(If you are still unsure whether to apply based on your passion or future career, read this.)

What is Uni Enrol?

Uni Enrol is an online platform that matches students with scholarships and exclusive deals. As a partner of over 100 institutions and various corporate partners, we house over 3,000 students to find the right course for them.