A lot of people think that higher education is expensive. They are not entirely wrong, but the reality is your choices will determine the total cost of your studies.
Good study options, which appear out-of-reach at first, could be made affordable, if you secure the right scholarships and study loans along your study pathway.
Getting incomplete or inaccurate information also is a mistake that many students and parents make when deciding on higher education.
But it’s not all doom and gloom.
More information is increasingly available online. On the Uni Enrol website, we have a database of over 80 universities in Malaysia and abroad, to make it easier for students to be matched to all their study options.
In this chapter, you will learn about:
- Higher education cost. What to look out for in terms of study cost and expenses.
- Education funding. PTPTN, scholarships and other financial aids available.
- Pathway Match. How to find course options within your budget inclusive of PTPTN and scholarship in under 5 minutes.
- Better budgeting. How to stretch your budget to attain better education outcomes
Cost of higher education – tuition fees and expenses
Generally, university tuition fees will take up the most of your higher education budget.
The quantum of tuition fees in Malaysia is highly dependent on which institution you choose, where as the study location or destination country will greatly determine the base cost.
Let’s take a deeper look at the factors that influence the education cost in Malaysia below.
Public vs. private universities in Malaysia
Public universities, like Universiti Malaya (UM) or Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), are funded by the government. So their tuition fees in Malaysia are definitely much budget-friendlier.
However, spots in public universities are limited. As per reported in the recent news in 2022 , even if you are accepted, you may not get into your chosen course despite scoring excellent results.
On the other hand, admission into a private university in Malaysia is almost guaranteed if you meet the course entry requirement.
Keep in mind that Malaysian private university tuition fees vary greatly even for the same course. For example, a computer science degree at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC) costs almost a third of that at Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU).
Even among private institutions in Malaysia, there are over 400 universities and colleges to choose from. Their university fees range from RM8,000 to RM44,000 for pre-university/foundation and a degree may cost between RM15,000 to RM100,000. This range covers small colleges all the way to top private universities in Malaysia.
Malaysian university tuition fees vary because there are different categories and campus environments to consider:
- Foreign universities with Malaysian branches. Examples are University of Southampton, University of Nottingham, Monash University and Curtin University in Malaysia. Be prepared to pay around RM30,000 for foundation and between RM100,000 to RM300,000 for degree fees.
- Top local private universities. Notable ones with higher QS world rankings are Taylor’s University, IMU, APU, UCSI and Universiti Teknologi Petronas.
- Universities with full fledged campuses. Enjoy campus life in universities like MMU, UTAR, TARUMT, UOW Malaysia KDU and HELP.
- Specialised institutions. e.g. AIMST University, Manipal University College Melaka, PIDC, QUEST University and MAHSA University that focus on health science courses like Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry.
- Specialised colleges. e.g. Malaysian Institute of Arts, The One Academy and Equator College. Their college fees may not necessarily be lower than that of larger universities.
For an easy overview and comparison of the university tuition fees in Malaysia and abroad, just explore the course listings of over 100+ institutions on our Uni Enrol online university application platform.
Arts vs. STEM courses
Degree fees and college fees also differ by the course majors.
For those considering an arts or business course like Accounting, Business or IT, you can estimate the tuition fees to be anywhere between RM31,000 and RM106,000 for a degree from a private university in Malaysia.
For STEM courses, it typically requires more infrastructure, equipment and technology, and the university fees are therefore higher.
This is particularly true if you are considering Health Sciences courses like Medicine, Pharmacy and Dentistry, where you will have to budget anywhere between RM100,000 to RM400,000.
For those who are considering to study overseas, the education cost will be highly dependent upon the location and the duration.
If you are a SPM or IGCSE school leaver, you need to firstly budget the cost for an internationally-recognised pre-university course like A-Level or SACE, that will easily cost at least RM25,000 and above in a Malaysian college in Klang Valley.
As for degree studies, countries like the US and Canada will generally cost more compared with Australia, New Zealand and UK. More so for top-tier universities that are highly-ranked globally.
Below is a list of popular international study destinations and their indicative international student tuition fees for undergraduate degree courses as per mentioned in the official higher education portal of the respective countries:
- Australia : AUD $20,000 – $45,000/year (from ~RM60,000/year)
- New Zealand – NZD $20,000 – $40,000/year (from ~RM56,000/year)
- UK – GBP $10,000 – $26,000/year (from ~ RM54,000/year)
- Canada – CAD $20,000 – $45,000/year (from ~RM70,000/year)
- US – USD $26,000 – $36,000/year (from ~RM123,000/year)
Note: Fees are likely higher for subjects such as medicine and veterinary science.
If you are not living at home while studying, then a big bulk of your living expenses will consist of four things:
- Accommodation. Rental cost could be lower if you are willing to sacrifice some comfort e.g. stay further away from campus or share with more housemates.
- Food. If you want to save more, then cook at home more often.
- Utilities. Items such as water, electricity, internet and mobile phone usage.
- Transportation. Cost to consider if you do not stay on campus.
For those who are studying abroad, there are many additional cost to note such as visa application fees and medical insurance.
How to fund your higher education?
There are many ways for you to fund your higher education.Three of the most common ways are through savings, education loans, and scholarships.
Before the start of every semester, students are expected to pay the tuition fee for the semester. Let us take for example, a computer science degree course student at MMU, a well established private university for the IT field in Cyberjaya, Malaysia.
Without any PTPTN loan or scholarship to offset the cost, the student’s parents would have to be able to pay around RM7,300 at the start of each semester, 3 times a year, for the next 3 years i.e. a total of RM 22,000/year for fees alone.
Without savings allocated in advanced for your higher education, your parents may not be able to afford such lump sum payments for 3 years consecutively.
Bear in mind that your parents would also need to cover your monthly living expenses, if you were to move out of home.
Therefore, we have encountered students, who chose to work a few years first, so that they can save up enough money to cover living expenses, while relying on PTPTN and scholarships to fully cover the cost of tuition fees.
In addition to savings, education loans are another common option for many students to help fund their higher education cost.
There are education loans by banks and also by the government. The most popular education loan by far is the PTPTN loan.
It offers students low interest rate and covers foundation courses at some private universities in Malaysia and all diploma and undergraduate degree courses at both public and private universities in Malaysia.
The PTPTN loan amount you can apply for varies depending on the:
- Institution type. i.e. public vs. private
- Course level i.e. foundation vs. diploma vs. degree
- Field of study e.g. arts vs. science vs. health science
- Family household income i.e. B40 vs. Below RM 8,000 vs. above RM 8,000
To better illustrate the impact of PTPTN to your budget, let’s refer back to the example used in the previous section i.e. a computer science degree student at MMU, Cyberjaya.
If the student is in the B40 group and is able to secure 100% PTPTN loan, then his/her parents would only need to pay RM8,400/year instead of RM22,000/year for the course fees.
For scholarships, many have the perception that it is only for top students and it requires a lot of documents and interviews.
That is mostly true for high-value or full scholarships to study abroad or locally that are being awarded by corporate organisations or foundations to students who are financially needy or talented.
There are exceptions, like nursing scholarships, where students only need 5Cs in SPM to be able to qualify for a full scholarship that covers all expenses, in exchange for a 5-year employment bond with the sponsors.
On the other hand, many private universities and colleges offer their own scholarship and bursary schemes with much lower requirements e.g. starting from just 1A in your SPM.
Let’s refer back to our previous example of the computer science degree student at MMU, Cyberjaya. If say this student has completed STPM with CGPA 3.50, then he/she is automatically eligible for a MMU scholarship with 25% off the tuition fee.
With this scholarship (- RM5,000/year) and 100% PTPTN (- RM13,600/year), his/her parents would only need to pay RM3,400/year. That’s equivalent to only 15.5% of the original course fee of the course at RM 22,000/year.
Budget planning with Pathway Match
You can check immediately out your course fees, PTPTN and scholarships eligible through our Pathway Match tool.
All you have to do is key in your results, personal information and study preference.
The Pathway Match tool will instantly show you the courses and scholarships that you are eligible for, as well as the PTPTN loan amount that you are entitled to.
The matching is automatically done based on your results and chosen preference for field of study, household income, and even other factors such as ranking and location.
Once you have gone through your matched list, you can speak with our counsellors on which is the most suitable for you.
They’ll walk you through the process so that you will be certain that the course you chose is the one that fits you best!
How to stretch your education budget
Worried about the cost of higher education? There are multiple ways for you to stretch your budget to get an affordable yet quality higher education.
The most obvious option is to opt for public institutions.
Whether it’s STPM, Matrikulasi, or Asasi, your cost will be greatly reduced and up to 100% of the cost of your degree programme in a public university can be covered by PTPTN.
There are universities that offer both full- and part-time programmes for selected fields of study.
This gives you the free time to work and earn while pursuing your studies.
The location of your university can determine your cost of studies.
For instance, studying in Klang Valley will cost more compared with universities located elsewhere because the cost of living is higher.
Through our Pathway Match, you’ll be able to find the combination of pre-university/foundation and degree courses from institutions across Malaysia and overseas that may fit into your budget.
People think diploma courses are for those who couldn’t get at least 5Cs in their SPM or IGCSE.
While it is true that entry requirements for diploma courses are lower than pre-university courses, students sometimes choose this pathway for financial reasons. i.e. unlike foundation, most diploma courses are applicable for PTPTN loan.
Moreover, you can choose to enter the workplace first in just 2 years, if you worry about your financial security to afford studying 4 consecutive years for a degree.
Choose Foundation vs. International Pre-University
Most students get stuck when it comes to choosing between foundation and international pre-university courses in Malaysia without understanding the finer points of the courses.
Foundation is the most direct and fastest way to get to a degree course after SPM and IGCSE, with many intakes available all-year round
It is often the cheaper option when compared with an international pre-university course like A-Level or AUSMAT/SACE, considering the examination fees and timing constraints of the intake, exams and results release dates.
Twinning courses and credit transfer
Do you want to study abroad and graduate with a degree from a university overseas at a much lower cost?
It’s easier than you think with many of such overseas pathways being visible on Pathway Match.
Many local universities offer twinning programmes with reputable foreign universities. So you can opt to spend up to 2 years in Malaysia before finishing the final 1-2 years of your degree studies at the designated partner university abroad.
If no such twinning partnership exist for your degree programme, you may also consider is to apply for a credit transfer to a foreign university. Such opportunities are not highly visible online so it is best that you speak our counsellors for guidance.
Let’s Wrap This Up
This chapter should serve as a good overview to the costing and funding that are available for your higher education.
For your next step, you should start with the following activities:
- Complete Pathway Match so that you are aware of the PTPTN loan amount and scholarships that are applicable for your higher education
- Discuss with your parents about how much money or savings they have budgeted for your higher education
In the mean time, you may head to the next chapter of our higher education guide : Chapter 3 | Explore Careers, Choose Course