Education in Malaysia

Top choices after SPM

So, you have just finished your SPM and you are looking for your next step. You would know by now that there are a myriad of options that you can consider.

To study or not to study?

It is not absolute that you need to go straight into studying right after SPM. In fact, there are some students who prefer to take a ‘break’ after Form Five. This is otherwise known as a ‘gap year’ and that is actually quite healthy because it will give you more perspective and definitely a clearer mind before you proceed. It might not necessarily be a full year; you can do a half year or even 2 years but taking too long a break might make you more sluggish. However, if you are those who cannot wait to finish your studies so that you can have a well-deserved break afterward, then there might be a few factors that you might want to consider:

  • To finish locally or overseas
  • To aim for public universities or decide to study in private establishments
  • Budget
  • Time and duration
  • The area of interest and where is it available

Where can you study and who offers what courses?

The most common method is to study at a university. This is the most straightforward way to get your degree or qualification. Malaysia has one of the most exciting options when it comes to tertiary education. You can choose between:

  • Community Colleges – Otherwise known as Kolej Komuniti, they offer TVET or Technical and Vocational Education Training certificates. Most of the courses offered in Kolej Komuniti are 2-year diploma courses where students can continue to finish their degrees later.
  • Polytechnics – There are more than 35 politeknik (polytechnics) in the country. Students who prefer to learn more vocational and technical skills could take courses in these colleges
  • Public University – This is the cheapest option but you might not get to enter into a course of your choice. To get into a public university, you need to get a good grade in STPM.
  • Private institutes of higher learning – This could be a university, university college, college or even institutes. For those who cannot get a place in public universities, this would be a good option. However, the fees would be higher depending on their affiliations and reputation.

Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia

The most convenient choice post-SPM. It is assumed that students who finish SPM will naturally progress to STPM so that they can gain entry into the public universities. STPM are offered by selected schools as well as Kolej Tingkatan Enam available across the country. You need to pass your SPM (Grade 1) in order to be eligible to study Form 6. Features of STPM include:

  • Duration: 2 years (Lower and Upper 6).
  • The number of subjects: 5.
  • Assessments: Continuous Assessment and Examinations.
  • Fees: Almost free of charge.

A-Level

This is one of the most recognized pre-university course recognized globally. It is from the UK and is offered through various examining boards such as Edexcel and the Cambridge International Examinations boards respectively. Most international schools offer A-Level as part of their curriculum which comes in 2 sections namely the AS and A2 Level.

  • Duration: 1.5 to 2 years depending on the school.
  • The number of subjects: At least 3 (usually up to 5).
  • Assessment: Continuous Assessment and Examinations.
  • Fees: From RM18,000 and can be up to RM40,000.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma

The IB Diploma comes from Switzerland and is touted to be among the hardest at this level. It is not as old as other courses like the A-Level but has grown in stature and recognition. Students get a different learning experience when they take up the IB Diploma where they will learn in 2 major areas namely:

  1. TOK or Theory of Knowledge
  2. CAS or Creative, Action and Service Activities
  • Duration: 1.5 years.
  • Number of Subjects: 6.
  • Assessment: Continuous Assessment and Examinations.
  • Fees: Between RM35,000 and RM70,000.

Kursus Matrikulasi

This simply means the Matriculation course. It is somewhat a foundation course where students with good SPM results can try to gain entry into the public university. This will help to prepare them into heading into specialized areas like Information Technology and Business Studies, among others.

  • Duration: 1 to 2 years.
  • Number of Subjects: 4 depending on the institution.
  • Assessment: Mix.
  • Fees: Almost Free of Charge.

AUSMAT or SAM

AUSMAT stands for Australian Matriculation and SAM stands for South Australian Matriculation. The former is operated by the Western Australian Government while the latter is by the South Australian counterpart. The structure of both the programs is quite similar with some differences in the way they are assessed. Typically, the AUSMAT or SAM are taken to help you gain entry into Australian universities while it is also accepted in local private institutions.

  • Duration: 1 year.
  • Number of Subjects: Usually 5.
  • Assessment: Continuous Assessment and Examinations.
  • Fees: around RM40,000 to RM45,000.

Canadian Pre-University

The Canadian Pre-University or CPU is a pre-university course designed to help you gain entry into Canadian universities. It is also recognized by most private universities in Malaysia if you want to gain entry into their degree courses (as long as you meet the minimum requirements). This program comes with a mandatory Community Service segment.

  • Duration: 1 year.
  • Number of Subjects: Usually 6.
  • Assessment: Mostly continuous assessment.
  • Fees: About RM40,000.

ADP or American Degree Program

If you made up your mind to continue your studies in the United States, then you could dive straight into an ADP programme. Some call it ADTP or American Degree Transfer Program. What you do is you will spend 1 or 2 years in Malaysia and the other 2 in your specialized area in the United States and Canada at the University of your choice. Take note that ADP credits are usually non-transferable to non-USA universities.

  • Duration: 1 to 2 years in Malaysia.
  • Number of Subjects: About 8-9 depending on your ability.
  • Assessment: Usually continuous.
  • Fees: Around RM65,000 depending on the institution (for up to 2 years locally).

Foundation course

If you are almost certain of the field you want to take in your degree, then a foundation course would be ideal for you. For instance, you can take a Foundation in Business if you plan to take a degree in Business Studies or Marketing and a Foundation in Engineering if you plan to take an engineering degree later. On the other hand, you can consider taking a more generic one like Foundation in Science or Foundation in Arts which give you more options later.

  • Duration: Usually 1 year.
  • Number of Subjects: Around 10 (50 credits maximum).
  • Assessment: Mix.
  • Fees: Between RM15,000 and RM30,000.

Advice for Oversea Students

Prepare – Your Essential Checklist

  1. You need to ensure that you have a valid passport and student visa to enter and remain in Malaysia for the duration of your studies.
  2. Contact the institution for assistance in arranging for accommodation and assess the different options available.
  3. The weather in Malaysia is hot and humid all year round. As such, pack clothes that are light and comfortable. You can buy your books, toiletries, stationery and other personal items once you have arrived in Malaysia.
  4. When travelling to Malaysia, it is best to avoid carrying too much cash with you for your own safety. You can open a bank account near your campus and request your family to transfer money to you after. Also, place all your important documents and belongings in your hand-carry luggage and keep it with you at all times.
Applying for a student visa

All international students who plan to pursue their education in Malaysia need to apply for a student visa. The process is simple and all applications for a student pass are done through the Malaysian educational institution you are enrolled at.

Applications are processed by the Immigration Department in Malaysia who will grant a student visa only if your course has been approved by the Ministry of Higher Education. In addition, the institution you have applied to must have the approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs to enrol international students.

Upon approval, a student pass and visa will be issued (with the exception of students from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) who need to get their visas directly from the Embassy of Malaysia or the Council of Malaysia in the PRC).

The endorsement on your passport by the Immigration Department of Malaysia indicates your visa type, the length of your stay in Malaysia, the number of entries permitted and the validity of the student pass (one year). The Malaysia Immigration regulations require all international students to enrol as a full time student throughout their stay in Malaysia. Note: All international students (except Diplomatic Pass Holders, Malaysian Permanent Residents (P.R) and Malaysia My Second Home (MMSH) applicants) are required to have a Student Pass while studying in Malaysia.

Extending your visa

The Student Pass is valid for one year and is renewable while you remain as a student at your university. You are responsible for submitting a Student Pass Extension two months before its expiry (you can seek assistance from your university’s International Student Office). If you fail to do, you may be compounded for overstaying in Malaysia by the Immigration Department.

  1. You need to ensure that you have a valid passport and student visa to enter and remain in Malaysia for the duration of your studies.
  2. Contact the institution for assistance in arranging for accommodation and assess the different options available.
  3. The weather in Malaysia is hot and humid all year round. As such, pack clothes that are light and comfortable. You can buy your books, toiletries, stationery and other personal items once you have arrived in Malaysia.
  4. When travelling to Malaysia, it is best to avoid carrying too much cash with you for your own safety. You can open a bank account near your campus and request your family to transfer money to you after. Also, place all your important documents and belongings in your hand-carry luggage and keep it with you at all times.

Working while in Malaysia

International students are allowed to work part-time while studying full-time in Malaysia, subject to immigration and the following conditions.

  1. students can work only during semester breaks or public holidays that are more than 7 days;
  2. students can work not more than 20 hours a week;
  3. students are allowed to work in any of these places: hotel, petrol station, mini-mart, and restaurant;
  4. Applications must be made to the Malaysian Immigration Headquarters in person and accompanied by a representative from the University (travel cost to be borne by the student);

 

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