Shortlist and Choose University

There are many higher education institutions in Malaysia, some of them top in a specific category.

There is no doubt that for many people, the top university is the best option for all students.

However, the best university might not mean it is the most suitable for you.

So how do you know which is the best for you?


    Part 1

    Types of institutions in Malaysia

    There are 2 types of higher education institutions in Malaysia: public and private.

    Public institutions, sometimes known as IPTA, offer spots in a course based on quotas.

    Though you will be able to submit your preferred list of courses, the decision on which course you will study is made by the government. 

    We won’t focus on IPTA for this article since you won’t get to choose which university to go to.

    Private institutions, also known as IPTS, offer full flexibility when it comes to choosing which university to go to.

    You will notice that some institutions are called colleges while some use the name university or even university college.

    So what’s the difference?

    A college mainly offers courses such as certificate, pre-university, diploma and 3+0 undergraduate degrees from foreign universities.

    You will find foundation, diploma, undergraduate, and postgraduate degree courses at a university college.

    Lastly, a university offers the full range of courses including its own undergraduate degrees.

    For those who want to study overseas, choosing an international pre-university course gives you the flexibility to choose where you want to go for your degree studies.

    Part 2

    Obstacles you will encounter

    There are a number of factors that can affect your decision when choosing which university to attend.

    One of the major factors is finance.

    The cost of higher education varies depending on the pathway you choose. 

    Some students end up struggling to finance their studies because they did not plan their budget accordingly.

    Having a budget and knowing how much you can afford will give you and your family the peace of mind you need during your studies.

    At the same time, scholarships can provide some relief for those who qualify for it since not all scholarships require top results.

    For Malaysians, PTPTN loans are a great way to finance higher education even at private institutions. 

    Its low interest rate offers students a significantly lower financial burden compared with education loans provided by banks.

    The next factor is academic requirements.

    To ensure that you can successfully enroll into the degree course that you want, it is recommended that you check their entry requirements even when you are in secondary school.

    Some degree courses have specific subject requirements, such as needing SPM Science subjects for science-based fields of study.

    It is a similar scenario when it comes to entry requirements for pre-university courses.

    Lastly, some courses cost more than others.

    Why is that so?


    Most students tend to ask, is this degree better than the other?

    What they really want to know is whether this degree will help them land a good job after graduation.

    To find out about the graduate employment rate, check out the Ministry of Higher Education’s Graduate Tracer Study.

    So how can the university/college influence your job prospects after graduation?

    It is all about the strength of your university, from the location and quality of its lecturers to its partnership with industry leaders.

    Do the courses give you the latest and most relevant skills and knowledge you need for a career in your chosen field?

    One way to find out about this is to check its syllabus. 

    Most universities put their syllabus online and you can easily find out what you will study during the course.

    Having good English proficiency and practical experience are usually viewed favourably by big companies.

    This includes the university’s partnerships with industry partners on internship, real-world projects, workshops, and more.

    The university’s campus facilities and research capabilities also play a part in building the employability of its students.

    A university’s ranking and accreditation signal its competence and commitment in providing a relevant education for the future workforce.

    The most common university ranking is by QS, and it offers regional and global ranking, plus ranking by subject.

    Locally, higher education institutions have SETARA and MyQuest rankings as a guidance for students.

    SETARA rates institutions based on autonomy, quality and institutional performance.

    MyQuest is a ranking based on students, resources, quality management systems, programmes recognition, and graduates recognition.

    Aside from ranking, professional accreditation of a course also increases your job prospects since employers can easily gauge your education and skill levels with these standardised rating systems.

    Environment and Location

    Another factor that affects the cost of higher education is the environment and location of a university.


    For some, the campus presents a major draw for them.

    It could be the facilities on campus, and also the amenities surrounding it.

    Most universities have labs and studios equipped with the latest technology for students to use.

    Universities with campus in urban areas are generally more popular too because they have better amenities around them.

    Its student population also tends to be different than those in non-urban areas.

    Larger campuses have capacity to host a wide variety of activities, whether it’s for clubs and societies, or networking with industry leaders.


    Universities within Klang Valley and other urban areas will have better job opportunities for its students since it is closer to companies of all sizes.

    That also affects the quality of the university’s industrial partnerships since they are likely to collaborate with partners that are located near to them. 

    The distance between the university and a student’s home also will have an impact on the decision-making process.

    If a student lives far away, it would increase their transportation or even accommodation costs.

    Part 3

    How to narrow your options

    Now that you’ve gone through some of the factors that can affect your choice of universities, it’s time to narrow down your options.

    Do you know how many universities fit the criteria you’ve set?

    There are more than 80 private institutions and dozens of public institutions in Malaysia.

    Depending on your preference, the list of potential institutions could be long and it would be time consuming to go through each option.

    Fortunately for you, there are tools that can filter all the private institutions and instantly match you to the institutions that fit your criteria.

    Pathway Match is an online matching tool that will instantly match you with universities and courses based on your results and preferences.

    On top of that, it will also display the scholarships that you can apply for to lower the cost of your higher education.

    It takes less than 10 minutes to generate the free report and you can access it anytime you want.

    You’ll be able to see the net fees, course syllabus, duration, and potential scholarships and bursaries available.

    From here, you can then decide which factor matters more to you and make your decision accordingly.

    Once you have your free matching report you can contact our counsellors with all your questions. You can find Pathway Match here.