Malaysia is a Southeast Asian country of diverse cultural heritage, as seen among its people, religion, languages, and cuisine. The country is regarded for its coastal landscapes and mountains, and just as famous for its commercial centers and skyscrapers.

In recent years, it has been a popular student destination, too. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Malaysia for international students.

Top Universities in Malaysia for International Students

1. Universiti Malaya (University of Malaya)

The University of Malaya is the oldest in Malaysia and one of the most prestigious institutions in the country. It was established from a merger of two colleges in 1949. Today, the University of Malaya is the best in Malaysia for international students, and it is also organized into 13 faculties and several academic institutes and centers. The university offers teaching and research in almost all disciplines, from business to medicine to engineering.

The University of Malaya sits on a 920-hectare campus in Kuala Lumpur. The campus includes an Olympic-sized pool, the Rimba Ilmu Botanical Gardens, museums, and over 60 research centers, in addition to first-rate teaching facilities. Students at UM study at the same university where three Malaysian prime ministers and several prominent national personalities have graduated.

2. Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman

The Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman is a non-profit university offering the most affordable higher education in Malaysia. It is a relatively young institution, established just in 2002, but it has rapidly ranked in major international university rankings. One of the best universities in Malaysia, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman is one of the Premier Digital Tech Universities, meaning the institution has a proven track record of excellent graduates for tech-based professions through cutting-edge research and industry connections.

UTAR has nine faculties, several institutes and centers, and over 300 university and industry partners. It offers programs in business, science, communication technology, engineering, medicine, the arts, and more within its two campuses at Kampar and Sungai Long.

3. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (National University of Malaysia)

The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, or the National University of Malaysia, is a public university highly regarded in Malaysia and Southeast Asia. It is one of the six appointed research universities in the country because of its quality research. UKM focuses on timely world issues, with key areas mostly related to energy, including earth science and biotechnology. This attracts many postgraduate students locally and around the globe to this top university in Malaysia.

Undergraduate and postgraduate students benefit from the subsidized fees by the government while pursuing multidisciplinary studies in many disciplines. These include social science, health sciences, engineering, pharmacy, medicine, economics, education, law, and Islamic studies. Moreover, UKM has many institutes and service centers providing more expansive education to students.

4. Universiti Putra Malaysia (University of Putra Malaysia)

Universiti Putra Malaysia is a leading research university, especially when it comes to agricultural sciences and its allied fields. It was first established as the School of Agriculture in 1931 and maintained its focus on the subject. Through the years, it has expanded into 16 faculties, including among others, veterinary medicine, human ecology, food science, and biotechnology. It works with several affiliated institutes focusing on halal product research, tropical forestry, and more.

Besides the comprehensive set of disciplines that UPM offers, about 4,500 international students enjoy studying in the 1,000-hectare campus in Serdang and the 700-hectare branch campus in Bintulu, Borneo. These campuses house lecture halls, a football stadium, an 18-hole golf course, and college residences.

5. Universiti Sains Malaysia (University of Science, Malaysia)

Universiti Sains Malaysia, one of the best universities in Malaysia for international students, is a research university with comprehensive programs in technology, liberal arts, sciences, and health science. It has one of the largest enrollment rates among universities in Malaysia. USM is also the only university in the country to receive government support to implement the Accelerated Programme for Excellence (APEX). This means they are funded to raise the level of education to an international level.

USM is spread out over three campuses in Northern Malaysia, housing nearly 29,000 students with 14% international learners. Many of these students stay at the university’s student village where they have access to guidance services, galleries and museums, sports facilities, and many more amenities.

6. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (University of Technology Malaysia)

Established in 1904 as one of the oldest technical school-turned-academic institutions in Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) is one of the best Malaysian universities in technical-heavy industries, producing the essential workforce needed by many public and private institutions in and out of the country.

Many major university rankings place UTM in Malaysia’s first spot for Architectural and Engineering programs. UTM currently has ten faculties that offer both local and international students undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

The 1,222-hectare vast main campus in Johor Bahru is nestled between the well-developed Malay Peninsula and the economically prosperous area of the Iskandar Development Region (IDR). Due to this, the prospects of studying here are preferred by international students.

7. Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS

Founded in 1997, Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) is a relatively new school established by Malaysia’s national oil and gas company Petronas. UTP is one of Malaysia’s top private institutions because of its excellent industry-relevant programs and extensive research activities.

UTP is consistently ranked in several subjects and world university rankings, such as Times Higher Education (THE) and Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). The university’s current aim to produce quality professionals can be seen in its effort to use its partnered institutions to set up internships to help students transition into their preferred career opportunities.

International students living in Malaysia can also enjoy its benefits through the University’s Student Development and Services program, which often supports immigration processing and social enrichment to better fit in with its culture.

8. Taylor’s University

A member of Taylor’s Education Group, Taylor’s University is a private university in Selangor, Malaysia. This institution was established in 1969 as a college and was granted university status in 2010. The university soon became a top-rated private university in Malaysia, boasting its number-one status given by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) for three years.

This is all because the university has continuously provided quality service for its students and faculty, combining state-of-the-art facilities and diverse study options – then operated by competent teachers armed with a quality curriculum.

Taylor’s University is a benchmark of excellence, and any aspiring student looking for competency- local or international can find them more than welcome on its grounds.

9. Universiti Teknologi MARA (MARA Technological University)

UiTM is Malaysia’s most prominent public university, encompassing all 13 Malaysian states. It is also known for its high-quality education programs, supported by being a consistent top-ranker in the QS university rankings. It also continues to further its expansion in education, with a large variety of courses offered from pre-diploma to the Ph.D. level.

This top Malaysian university has also produced alums who held numerous positions of power in the country. Paired with its affordability, the university is also known to be one of the cheapest options for both local and international students.

However, undergraduate programs are only exclusive to local students, but postgraduate programs are open for all to apply.

10. Universiti Tenaga Nasional (National Energy University)

A prestigious private university wholly owned by Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) is an academic institution determined to distinguish itself worldwide and be globally competitive by living up to its nickname as the Energy University.

Its goals were manifested and had taken form by being one of the country’s top choices for engineering, computer science, and information technology programs. With its extensive private library network, UNITEN’s students enjoy access to a wide array of information readily available due to the efforts of the university.

The university’s on-site amenities and infrastructure offer various activities; from its cozy dorm rooms to its giant sports arena, many will find its grounds very safe and accommodating for inquiring international students.

11. Universiti Malaysia Perlis

Formerly known as Kolej Universiti Kejuruteraan Utara Malaysia (KUKUM), Universiti Malaysia Perlis or UniMAP, for short, started as a college but was turned into a full-fledged university to help support Malaysia’s industrial blueprint plan (Pelan Induk Perindustrian Negara). UniMAP is renowned as one of the top-rated public universities and is distinguished as one of the only four technical universities in Malaysia.

Its aim to become the leading technical university in Perlis and Malaysia is demonstrated by its proficiency in niche areas in engineering, technology, and science-related areas, all the while being cheaper to study in than most universities.

Due to its affordability and solid facilities such as residential colleges and bus services, UniMAP is one of the local and international students’ most desired Malaysian universities.

12. Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (University of Malaysia Sarawak)

University Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) is a public university in Sarawak, Malaysia, a community-driven university and one of the universities that admits international students in Malaysia. UNIMAS is most famous for its efficient utilization of research grants from organizations worldwide; notable examples are the development of a candidate vaccine for dengue through international collaboration and its research on producing environmentally friendly plastic through sago starch.

It primarily focuses on improving most organisms’ quality of life in Borneo. Its in-demand programs include applied and creative arts, cognitive sciences and human development, computer science and information technology, economics and business, medicine and health sciences, resource and technology, and social sciences.

13. Universiti Utara Malaysia

A public university in Sintok, Kedah, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) is considered an aesthetic university since it is snuggled inside a tropical rainforest with its scenery dotted with rolling hills. UUM is nowadays most famous for its sole focus on management education. It is one of the most prestigious universities in Malaysia, all the while being one of the cheapest universities to enroll in.

UUM is also famous for its infrastructure, making it succeed in accommodating a large number of students on the main campus, with its state-of-the-art facilities equal to the best campuses the world has to offer.

14. Multimedia University 

Multimedia University (MMU), also known as Universiti Telekom, is Malaysia’s first private university. The university is well-known for being one of the top five universities preferred by significant ICT companies to acquire staffing. The institute is also praised for its collaborations on the global stage, partnering with companies like Nokia, Dell, Intel, Microsoft, and Motorola; its international exposure is a testament to its quality education.

Its campus in Cyberjaya- the equivalef the Silicon Valley in Malaysia, is ideal for international students because it sits within Kuala Lumpur, easily accessible to private and public services such as transportation and shopping districts.

15. Management & Science University

The Management & Science University (MSU) is a non-profit, private university located in Selangor, Malaysia. The university strongly emphasizes and promotes its dynamic cultural diversity within the campus grounds – an academic melting pot pooling from almost 40 countries worldwide, making it very friendly and familiar for international students.

The university also aims to deliver quality education in academic excellence and soft skills to produce a balanced and well-rounded graduate by making different student resources readily accessible. Resources include career development, health services, counseling, and International Student Services.

FAQs about Studying in Malaysia

Is Malaysia a Good Place to Study for International Students?

According to UNESCO, Malaysia is one of the most popular destinations worldwide for international students, and among the highest in Asia. The Malaysian government heavily invested in tertiary education in recent years. Various initiatives led to first-rate facilities, cutting-edge research, and internationally recognized degree programs.

The most sought-after courses by foreign learners include business, engineering, medicine, hospitality, mass communication, and art and design. Tuition fees are very affordable, too, starting at $1,700 per year for a bachelor’s degree and $2,600 annually for a master’s degree.

The official language in the country is Bahasa Malaysia, but English is spoken abundantly. Other languages like Cantonese, Mandarin, and Tamil are just as widely spoken. There is a little language barrier in studying and living in Malaysia, especially when students develop a good understanding of Malay in a few months.

Can International Students Work in Malaysia While Studying?

International students are allowed to work in Malaysia during their studies, albeit with some restrictions. They can work up to 20 hours a week, but only on semester breaks and holidays that span seven days. Common job placements for students include working at restaurants, hotels, petrol kiosks, and mini-markets. They are not allowed to work as cashiers, singers, masseurs, musicians, and guest relations officers.

Students can apply from the educational institution they are enrolled in. A representative from their university will accompany them to the Immigration Department of Malaysia when applying.

Can International Students Stay in Malaysia After Graduation?

International graduates who wish to stay in Malaysia need a valid residency permit to do so. One way to do this is to seek employment in the many thriving industries of the country. Graduates must first secure a job from a Malaysian employer, who will process the work permit. These “employment passes” are valid for two to five years. The path toward permanent residency can be found on their official immigration website.

Other foreign nationals can apply for the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) program, which gives them a 10-year visa to stay in the country. However, this government initiative is for retirees and people who can finance themselves independently, so holders of this visa cannot work in the country.


We hope that this article will help in your search for the best university to enroll in Malaysia. If you’re interested in studying abroad, make sure to check out the Malaysia Page and sample some of the  Available Programs for International Students!

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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