The Southeast Asian state of Malaysia stands for tradition and modernity in equal measure – both culturally and economically. In the past, mining, agriculture and the export of raw materials dominated it. Today it is also the automotive industry as well as the export of electrical engineering and modern communication technologies. The service and education sectors are also developing.
Malaysia is a founding member of the ASEAN (Association of South-East-Asian Nations) and an ambitious and at the same time economically and politically stable country. Malaysia was a British colony until August 1963 and English is still the language of business. This is one of the reasons why many international students are drawn to Malaysia to study.
Elective monarchy in the tropics
According to 800zipcodes, Malaysia consists of two parts: Firstly, West Malaysia on the Asian mainland, bordering Thailand to the south and Singapore to the north. On the other hand from East Malaysia, the northern part of the island of Borneo. Both parts of the country have a tropical climate with an average of thirty degrees during the day and rarely less than twenty degrees at night. The humidity is often over eighty percent; especially in the rainy season from October to April it is extremely high.
The landscape of both parts of the country is dominated by tropical rain and mangrove forests with an extremely rich flora and fauna. Orchids, magnolias and carnivorous plants as well as hornbills, orangutans, sun bears and tigers are at home here. The latter are also the Malaysian heraldic animals. In the center of both parts of the country are forested mountains and high plateaus, including the highest mountain in Southeast Asia: Mount Kinabalu (4,095 meters) on Borneo. The plains have often been heavily cleared and have given way to tea plantations. While a few coastal areas are swampy, the majority of the Malaysian coast offers secluded sandy beaches, small bays and islands.
Malaysia’s wild nature is in great contrast to the big cities with their modern infrastructure and high-rise architecture. The most recent landmarks in the country are the two Petronas Towers (452 meters) in Kuala Lumpur. The capital is the only metropolis in the country with a large number of residents living in cities. The Malays make up only 50.4% of the total population. They belong to the so-called Bumiputra, the indigenous population of Malaysia, which also includes Javanese, Bugis and other small ethnic groups. The Bumiputra make up 65% of the population, while around 26% of the population are Chinese and 8% are Indian.The official state religion is Islam. The national and school language is Bahasa Malaysia. The general business language of the former colony is still English today.
University landscape of Malaysia
Both the Malaysian government and industry are particularly supportive of the education sector. Since the 1980s and increasingly since the turn of the millennium, the Malaysian university landscape has undergone major changes and has become increasingly attractive for international applicants: Since then, there have been numerous collaborations with foreign institutions, be it through exchange programs, special study programs such as Study Abroad, or via Campus branches. In addition, some local and foreign companies set up private educational institutions. The aim of these measures is to promote one’s own potential offspring.
The private sector is playing an increasingly important role in the Malaysian educational landscape and universities are springing up like mushrooms. The many start-ups represent, among other things, a reaction to the steadily growing number of applicants and the lack of places at state universities.
There are currently twenty state universities in Malaysia that are largely autonomous. The country’s first two universities were founded during the colonial era in 1904 and 1922. All others did not follow until the late 1960s. In addition, more than twenty private universities, four international offices and many polytechnic colleges (Polytechnics), business schools and university colleges.
The country’s education system is overseen by the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry of Home Affairs. Only institutions accredited by these two ministries are allowed to accept international applicants. Worldwide, Malaysia ranks eleventh with its proportion of foreign students. Around 75,000 students from more than a hundred countries come here every year to benefit from the advantages of the university landscape.
A (temporary) apprenticeship in the Asian region seems particularly useful for a later career in the fields of business, management and technology. A study abroad had it for one or two semester or for a full-time study, but also many students from other disciplines appear very attractive. The state and, in particular, the private universities in Malaysia offer both courses and entire degree programs in English, which makes studying in Malaysia particularly interesting.
All private educational institutions – called Private Higher Educational Institutions (PHEIs) – have the status of independent private companies in Malaysia. They are subordinate to local law and are obliged to offer courses in morality and Islam to local students. The quality of teaching is controlled by the Ministry of Education with institutions such as the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and the Malaysian Qualifications Framework (MQF). In order to have the achievements made in Malaysia later transferred, the international students have to do them in courses that are accredited by the institutions.
In particular, the study programs of the campus branches of foreign universities are interesting for many applicants: They offer high quality and a good level at far lower cost of living and tuition fees than is the case in many other countries. Another advantage is the modern equipment of the young universities in connection with their progressive, internationally oriented teaching.
At the branches of the international universities, both domestic and foreign students can study at conditions similar to those on the respective parent campus. Several renowned universities from Great Britain and Australia have now settled in Malaysia. They include the Australian Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak. They offer an almost identical university program in English with their own lecturers as on the main campus.