How Much Does It Cost To Get an Undergraduate Degree in Malaysia?
A key differentiating factor between Malaysian public and private HEIs is of course, cost. Public HEI costs are heavily subsidised by the government (see The Edge Malaysia Infographic, Issue 1294), where as private HEI students typically bear the full cost.
The table below summarises a range of fees for different types of undergraduate (Bachelor degree) courses from selected Malaysian universities for local students, categorised by broad subject areas and the type of HEI. On top of the fees charged, students also need to pay for travel costs, living expenses as well as learning materials.
Side Note: Researching Education Costs
Course fee information provided on university websites were not standardised or straightforward. Different institutions would present information in different ways – for instance some would provide annual fees while others would provide semesterised information. A small number of universities did not provide fee information on their website. This made direct comparisons rather tricky. We call for standardised and consistent information on education costs.
Where possible we contacted the institutions (both public and private) via email and / or phone to verify information on the website. Some were very helpful but in other cases, our emails were not responded to and our phone calls were passed on to different departments but ultimately did not obtain the information we sought.
The table above presents a range of fees based on published information, rounded up or down to the nearest hundred ringgit. There may still be differences with individual experiences, as we are aware that the published costs might have changed, or individual circumstances such as the need for additional preparatory courses may affect the fees.
The remainder of students obtain scholarships or receive some form of financial aid from other sources. We summarise popular sources of higher education funding below, focusing mainly on students studying in Malaysia although some sources also offer funding opportunities for those studying abroad.
Self-funding typically refers to parental or family support for higher education. Parents or family members would have saved up over the lifetime of the student to fund their child’s education. PTPTN has launched a tertiary education savings called Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional (SSPN-i) to encourage individuals and parents to save for tertiary education opportunities for themselves or their children.
Government agencies such as MARA, as well as a number of private organizations, financial institutions and cooperatives also offer loans, subject to meeting particular criteria and may or may not charge rates of interest on the loan.
Students who are academically excellent may be able to secure scholarships or bursaries from government organizations (e.g. the Public Services Department, or JPA), the private sector as well as the university where they are studying. Typically, such scholarships require the student to serve their funder for a period of time after graduation, although this is not always the case.
A list of available scholarships – often updated from time to time – can be found at websites such as (but not limited to) Senarai Biasiswa Terkini, Afterschool.my and Eduadvisor. The amount of the scholarships vary, and may be a fixed amount (e.g. RM10,000 per year) or may cover the full costs of study.
Other Financial Aid
Qualifying students may apply for / receive financial aid provided by state level agencies. Examples include:
With the popularity of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding, students can now seek help to fund their studies via raising finance from a number of people, each of whom donate small amounts.
While not exclusively for tertiary education, Skolafund.com is one such platform in Malaysia where students who require financial assistance are matched with those who are willing to provide them with the necessary funding.
Impact of Higher Education Costs on Graduates
The table showcased earlier in the article depicts typical undergraduate course fees at a selection of Malaysian HEIs. In addition to fees, other related costs still have to be borne by the students themselves or their families, regardless of whether they are enrolled at public or private institutions.
Based on the annual Laporan Kajian Pengesanan Graduan, in the past few years, the largest education loan provider for Malaysian students at local HEIs has been PTPTN. Funding is available for students at both private and public institutions.