4 cheapest Asian universities for international students

cheapest universities in Asia
Looking to attend a university in Asia? Here are our top picks. Source: Mohd Rasfan / AFP

Attending one of the cheapest universities in Asia is an experience of a lifetime. Outside of the fact that the region is home to some of the world’s best institutions, there is plenty to experience in the east — much of which cannot be found elsewhere. This stems from the food, culture, to many, many more. 

The best part? Every country in Asia is different in its own way — from climate to landscape. Some countries may be lush with rainforests and natural beauty, for example. Others may be more renowned for their incredible skyscrapers and futuristic tech. Either way, this makes for a host of experiences begging for exploration.

More than that, Asia is home to many developing countries on their way to becoming the next global superpower. China, for example, originates some of the world’s greatest tech — from Xiaomi devices to game-changing social media apps like TikTok. This makes Asia a great destination for students — especially if they’re paying attention to where the future market will take off. 

The greatest benefit of all, perhaps, is that attending a university in Asia is a much cheaper alternative than those in established higher education countries. 

Here are some of the cheapest Asian universities for international students: 

Malaysia is home to some of the best universities in Asia, as well as a rich local culture and food scene. Source: Mohd Rasfan / AFP


The 4 cheapest universities in Asia

Universiti Putra Malaysia

Malaysia is one of the most expat-friendly Asian countries, ranking as the 13th most desired location to move to in the world. It’s easy to see why — English is widely spoken here, making getting around and doing business easy. A thriving food scene and natural beaches, rainforests, and landscapes beguile locals and foreigners alike.

If you’re looking for a cheap university in Asia, Universiti Putra Malaysia is a top choice. It’s built a reputation as one of the best research universities in the country. Across the region, QS World Rankings recognised the institution as the 33rd Best Asian University and top 200 for 12 subject-ranked universities in the world. 

Fees are around an average of 10,000 to 20,000 Malaysian Ringgit (approximately US$2,000 to US$4,000) per year. 

Siam University

Thailand bustles with life, culture, glorious nature and mouthwatering food. Bangkok, its capital city, is modern and lavish, attracting plenty of opportunities for up-and-coming talents to explore their interests. It’s this that makes it one of the top five best cities for expats to live and work in the world. 

Siam University is a prime institution for international students. Founded in 1965, it began as the first three-year private engineering school in Thailand. Today, it has grown to accommodate over 15,000 students in eight schools — earning a reputation for being one of the top universities in Bangkok. 

Fees at Siam University differ according to the programme you’re signing up for. A bachelor’s degree in engineering costs around 317,850 Thai baht (approximately US$8,500) while an undergraduate programme in accounting costs 256,150 Thai baht (approximately $6,800). 

Shanghai is known for its stunning architectural landscape. Source: Hector Retamal/AFP

Shanghai University

Few in the world have not heard of Shanghai. The most populous urban area in China is home to over 26 million people. Known for its impressive skyscrapers, Shanghai rose in prominence as a trading hub for foreign nations. Today, it’s become China’s economic powerhouse — flush with cash, Ferraris and opportunities.

Shanghai University is located in the heart of the city. It is ranked 20th in research funding, 30th for publications, and 17th for international students nationally, making it a solid option for international students.

At Shanghai University, you can expect to pay around 21,000 to 39,000 Chinese Yuan (approximately US$2,900 to US$5,400 per year) for a bachelor’s degree. Master’s programmes tend to be a little more expensive, ranging from 26,000 to 114,000 Chinese Yuan (around US$3,600 to US$16,000) per year. 

cheapest countries

People visit Seminyak beach near Denpasar, on Indonesia’s holiday island of Bali. Source: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP

Udayana University

Bali, Indonesia is a hotspot for tourists from all over the world. It’s home to one of the most attractive destinations for a beach holiday, with a legendary nightlife and laid-back lifestyle that make it ideal for a memorable retreat. In the same way, this makes it a great place to live and work. 

For students looking to spend their next few years in an idyllic environment, consider Udayana University. It is one of the top public universities in Denpasar, Indonesia, placing among the 50 Promising Universities of Indonesia. It has a range of bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees across several fields of study. 

To attend Udayana University, you will have to pay tuition fees of US$4,999 per year on average.