Saturday, May 12, 2012

Studying And Living Cost In Malaysia


Many international students have discovered that studying in Malaysia is a “value-for-money” option as Malaysian education offers them :
  • a wide diversity of study options to choose from (e.g. trans-national education, foreign university branch campuses, etc.)
  • competitive education cost
  • high quality education
The affordable cost of quality tertiary education is one of many good reasons why international students choose Malaysia. For example, you can acquire a UK engineering degree (3 years) in Malaysia through a 3+0 franchised degree programme at an estimated RM51,000 (USD16,000), whereas the tuition fee of the same 3-year degree programme at the host university in the UK is about RM144,000 (USD45,000) or £30,000.
The major components of education cost are :
  • Course fees which include tuition fees and other study fees payable to the institution, depending on what you are studying and the duration of your course/study programme; and 
  • Living expenses which will depend on where you are staying, your type of accommodation and your lifestyle.
Cost of Education in Malaysia
Your course fees will consist of your tuition fees plus other related study expenses. Below are types of fees that you may incur during your course of study :
  • Registration fee
  • Tuition fee
  • Deposit
  • Computer/Science laboratory fee
  • Health & hospitalisation insurance premium
  • Library fee
  • Other incidental costs such as examination fees
The breakdown of estimated tuition fees at various levels of study are outlined below :
Pre-University Programmes
Private Higher Educational Institutions (PHEIs) in Malaysia offer two types of pre-university qualifications :
  • External Qualifications These are pre-university qualifications awarded by External Academic Bodies of the respective countries.
  • Internal Qualifications These are pre-university qualification courses developed and provided by individual private colleges or universities.
The estimated tuition fees are :
Estimated Tuition Fees for University Foundation or Pre-University Studies (in RM/USD) at PHEIs
Pre-University StudiessEstimated Tuition FeeDuration
External Qualifications
GCE ‘A’ Level, UKRM15,000 - RM25,000 (USD4,690 - USD7,810)15-18 months
Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT), AustraliaRM11,000 - RM21,000 (USD3,440 – USD6,560)10 months
South Australian Matriculation (SAM), AustraliaRM21,000 - RM25,000 (USD6,560 - USD7,810)10 months
Canadian Pre-U, CanadaRM19,000 - RM29,000 (USD5,940 - USD9,060)2 months
University of New South Wales (UNSW) Foundation YearRM14,000 - RM23,000 USD4,375 - USD7,190)12 months
International Baccalaureate DiplomaRM79,000.00 (USD9,062)24 months
Internal Qualifications
University Foundation Studies / MatriculationRM9,000 - RM15,000 (USD2,810 - USD4,690)10 - 12 months
( Source : StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition) ( Note : All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline ) ( Estimated currency exchange rate : USD1 = RM3.20, £1 = RM4.80 )
English Courses
There are many highly-experienced educational institutions and language schools in Malaysia that can help you achieve the proficiency in English required by PHEIs. They offer language preparatory courses for internationally-accepted English qualifications such as TOEFL and IELTS.
Estimated Tuition Fees – Preparatory Courses For English Proficiency Tests (in RM / USD)
International English Language Testing System (IELTS)RM850 – RM2,700 (USD265 – USD845)2 - 2.5 months
( Source : StudyMalaysia Research Team )
( Note : All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline )
Bachelor’s Degree Programmes
Malaysia offers you many study pathways to complete an entire 3-year bachelor's degree programme at a very competitive cost if you have GCE A-Levels / SAM or other equivalent preuniversity qualifications. The estimated tuition fees for various types of study mode are as below :
Estimated Tuition Fees per Course for 3+0 Degree Programmes at Private Colleges /Private Universities
Areas of StudyEstimated Tuition FeeDuration of Study
BusinessRM43,000 – RM75,000 (USD13,400 – USD23,400)3 years
EngineeringRM46,000 – RM65,000 (USD14,400 – USD20,300)(4 yrs for Aust degree) (3 yrs for UK degree )
ITRM45,000 – RM65,000 (USD14,000 – USD20,300)3 years
Hospitality & TourismRM73,000 (USD22,800)3 years
MedicineRM300,000 (USD93,750)5 years
PharmacyRM100,000 (USD31,250)4 years
( Source : StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition)
( Note : All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline )
Estimated Tuition Fees per Course for Bachelor's Degree at Foreign University Branch Campuses located in Malaysia
Areas of StudyEstimated Tuition FeeDuration of Study
BusinessRM50,000 – RM85,000 (USD15,600 – USD26,500)3 years
EngineeringRM69,000 – RM115,000 (USD21,500 – USD36,000)(4 yrs for Aust Degree) (3 yrs for UK degree )
ITRM60,000 – RM90,000 USD18,700 – USD28,100)3 years
MedicineRM450,000 (USD140,625)5 years
Hospitality & TourismRM183,000 (USD57,100)4 years
( Source : StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition)
( Note : All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline )
Estimated Tuition Fees per Course for Bachelor's Degree at Malaysian Private Universities
Areas of StudyEstimated Tuition FeeDuration of Study
BusinessRM33,000 – RM45,000 (USD10,300 – USD14,000)3 years
EngineeringRM50,000 – RM60,000 (USD15,600 – USD18,700)4 years
ITRM35,000 – RM50,000 (USD11,000 – USD15,600)3 years
Hospitality & TourismRM35,000 – RM60,000 (USD11,000 – USD18,700)3 years
PharmacyRM100,000 – RM140,000 (USD31,200 –USD43,700)4 years
(Source : StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition)
( Note : All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline )
Twining Degree Programme
In a twinning degree programme, students can undergo the identical curriculum for either 1 year; 1½ years; 2 years; or 2½ years in Malaysia before going to the twinning partner university overseas to complete the remaining 3-year degree programme.
The table displayed below provides an indication of the estimated total course fees for the entire "2+1" twinning programme, where the first two years of studies is pursued at a Malaysian institution and the final year at the twinning partner university in a foreign country such as Australia or the UK. The estimated tuition fees are :
Estimated Tuition Fees for 2+1 Twinning Degree Programmes
Areas of StudyEstimated Tuition Fees (RM/USD) (2 years in Malaysia + 1 year in Australia or UK)Total Cost
Law Degree (2+1 twinning degree)RM42,188 to RM53,070 (2 years in Malaysia) + £8000 to £15,400 (1 year in UK)Therefore total estimated tuition fee for 3 years is as low as RM80,400 (USD25,125)
P h a r macy Degree (2+2 twinning)RM70,000 to RM92,000 (2 years in Malaysia) + £18,000 to £25,716 (2 years in UK)Therefore total estimated tuition fee for 4 years is as low as RM156,400 (USD48,875)
( Source : StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition)
( Note : All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline )
Professional Qualification Programmes
If you choose to pursue a professional qualification, there are private educational institutions in Malaysia that prepare students to sit for external professional examinations set by various international examination or professional boards that award these qualifications. The fees charged by PHEIs to prepare students for these examinations are very affordable. The following are some of the professional bodies :
Various External Professional Qualifications
The Chartered Association of Certified Accountant, UK (ACCA)
The Chartered Institute of Management Accountant, UK (CIMA)
Institute of Chartered Secretaries & Administrators, UK (ICSA)
Institute of Chartered Accountants England and Wales, UK (ICAEW)
( Source : Research Team )
Postgraduate Studies
Public universities and private higher educational institutions (PHEIs) in Malaysia offer international students postgraduate programmes at very competitive tuition fees. The estimated tuition fees are :
Estimated Course Fee for Master of Business Administration (MBA) Awarded by Malaysian Universities
ProviderQualificationCourse Fee (RMDuration
Private UniversitiesMaster of Business AdministrationRM21,000 to RM30,000/ course (USD6,560 to USD9,375)1 to 2 years fulltime
Public UniversitiesMaster of Business AdministrationRM13,000 to RM25,000 /course (USD4,060 to USD7,810)1 to 2 years fulltime
( Source : StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition) ( Note : All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline ) ( Estimated currency exchange rate : USD1 = RM3.20 )
The Estimated Tuition Fees per Academic Year for Non-medical Postgraduate Programmes (by research) at Public Universities
Master’s degreeRM1,800 – RM6,000 (USD560 – USD1,875) per year
PhDRM2,700 – RM8,000 (USD845 – USD2,500) per year
( Source : StudyMalaysia Research Team & Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition) ( Note : All figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline )

Cost of Living in Malaysia

A major advantage for international students when choosing to study in Malaysia is the relatively cheap cost of living. The total expenditure for accommodation, either on-campus or off-campus is very affordable. While your actual cost of living will depend on the location of your accommodation and your personal lifestyle, students will be pleased to know that KL has been ranked one of the least expensive cities in the world to live in. For most students, a monthly budget of RM1,200 (USD375) will provide them with a rather comfortable living in Malaysia.
Breakdown of Living Cost in Malaysia
The average international student should be prepared to spend about RM1,000 (USD313) to RM1,500 (USD469) per month for living expenses in the vicinity of a city. The cost is broken down as below :
  • Accommodation
    You should estimate about RM300 (USD94) to RM450 (USD141) for your accommodation per month. The rental will vary depending on the geographical area, the type of accommodation (on-campus living in a hall of residence; or off-campus living in an apartment, condominium, singlestory house, double-storey house, etc.), the facilities provided in the house (e.g. with or without air-conditioning) and of course, the number of people sharing the room (or the apartment/house).
  • Food / Housekeeping 
    Your food and housekeeping expense is estimated to be around RM400 to RM450 (estimated USD133). This is based on about RM12 to RM15 (USD4.2) for three meals per day. Naturally, if you cook and share the cooking expenses with your friends, it would be cheaper.
  • Clothing 
    Your clothing expenses like washing, ironing, dry-cleaning, etc. may cost around RM60 (USD19) per month.
  • Public Transport
    Students who stay on campus or near campus may not incur any cost of travelling to and from classes. However, other travelling may cost approximately RM30 to RM50 (estimated USD13) per month.
  • Telecommunication / Mobile Phone Bills and Utilities 
    The mobile phone packages in Malaysia are very competitive. How much you spend will depend on your usage and the promotional package you choose. The average student may spend about RM30 to RM80 (estimated USD17) per month.
  • Books, Reading Materials and Stationery
    We have estimated the cost to be around RM50 to RM100 (estimated USD24) per month, but it would largely depend on the course you have signed up for and and the number and nature of projects in your course.
  • Medical / Hospitalisation Insurance 
    Although you may not need to pay for medical expenses every month, if you keep aside RM50 (USD16) per month, it would be sufficient for you in case you need outpatient treatment at a private clinic during the year. This estimate includes the amount you will have to pay for your medical and hospitalisation insurance (from your institutions).
  • Personal Expenses 
    How much your personal expenses would be per month would depend on your personal lifestyle. However, the cost can be estimated to be between RM100 (USD32) and RM200 (USD64). This includes your socialising needs, toiletries, haircut, clothes, movie, etc.
Using the estimate above, the total cost of living will average from between RM1,000 and RM1,500 (USD313 to USD469 ) per month or about RM12,000 to RM18,000 (USD3,750 to USD5,625 ) per year (12 months) for one student.
It is important to remember that the above estimate is only a guide in planning your budget to study in Malaysia. Individual expenses will vary according to the location you are at, course taken and your personal lifestyle.
Cross-Country Comparison of Education Cost
The cost of education varies from country to country. Malaysia has always offered a cost advantage as a study destination for international students. The cost of education in Malaysia is much cheaper than many other overseas countries for foreign students. The table below outlines the estimated tuition fees as well as the estimated country's cost of living for international students.
Education Cost in Selected Countries for International Students at Bachelor's Degree Level (Arts & Humanities/Business)
Country (state/private university)Tuition Fee* per academic yearCost of Living** per yearTotal Cost per year
(state university)
A$19,000A$15,000A$34,000 (USD31,900)
(state university)
C$12,000C$12,000C$24,000 (USD24,000)
(state university)
Minimal (€600)€8,000€8,600 (USD11,300)
(state university)
€13,000€12,000€25,000 (USD32,800)
(private sector: university/private college / foreign university branch campus) #
RM20,000RM15,000RM35,000 (USD11,000)
New Zealand
(state university)
NZ$18,000NZ$15,000NZ$33,000 (USD24,250)
United Kingdom
(state university)
£9,000£8,500£17,500 (USD26,250)
(state university)
USD 15,000USD15,000USD 30,000
(private university)
USD 20,000USD15,000USD 35,000
( Source : StudyMalaysia Research Team; Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition); various related websites; study guidebooks from various countries; Nilai University College Prospectus 2011; and International Medical University Fees 2011 )
( Note : * means An estimate for average undergraduate academic year ** means An estimate for average living cost for 12 months # means Cost for a foreign university degree qualification at private higher educational institutions )
( Note : These figures are estimates and serve only as a guideline. It is essential in every case that you contact the institution or country's education authority in question to ascertain the exact fee for the course that is of interest to you as well as the actual living cost in that location )
( Estimated currency exchange rate : USD1 = RM3.20, A$1 = RM3.00, £1 = RM4.80, €1 = RM4.20, NZ$1 = 2.35, C$1 = RM3.20 )


Looking at the estimated education cost in Malaysia, international students will find the cheaper fees and lower cost of living in Malaysia more beneficial to them as compared to studying in other countries. In addition, there is a wide choice of study options, such as pre-university programmes, twinning degree courses, 3+0 degree programmes, foreign university degree programmes as well as postgraduate studies offered in this country which are taught in English. Students also get to experience an exciting multi-cultural environment.
Although the Malaysian government allows international students to work while studying in Malaysia, international students are advised not to depend solely on this to support their education and living expenses in Malaysia. The small income derived from the part time work is merely to supplement their pocket money.
(Disclaimer : The data provided in this Chapter are an estimated guide only and may not be the most current information available. Students are advised to check with the respective institutions or authority concerned for the actual education cost before proceeding with enrolment.)
References :
  • Study in Malaysia Handbook (7th International Edition)
  • Education Guide Malaysia (12th Edition)
  • Websites of various universities
  • Study Guide produced by various countries' representatives in Malaysia
  • Websites on studying abroad - PHEI's prospectus

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