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Malaysia targets 50,000 new int’l student applications this year

studying in Malaysia
Planning on studying in Malaysia? The Southeast Asian country offers students affordable fees, a reasonable cost of living as well as a quality education. Source: Mohd Rasfan/AFP

Planning on studying in Malaysia? The country aims to receive 50,000 new applications from international students who want to study in Malaysia this year, said Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) CEO Mohd Radzlan Jalaludin.

He predicted that 10,000 applications will be received from Indonesia, in line with the 10% increase in student enrollment from the country over the past few years, reported Malaysia’s national news agency Bernama. 

The 50,000 figure was based on the trend of applications received over the past two years, which was 30,000 applications in 2020 and 40,000 in 2021, said the report.

According to Jalaludin, the target takes into account COVID-19 post-pandemic factors and the recovery period. He added that the number that had been achieved before this has gone up to 70,000 applications. 

Malaysia is home to 170,000 international students from 162 countries; 10,000 of them are from Indonesia. The government hopes to reach 250,000 international students by 2025. EMGS is a company under the purview of the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia.

Studying in Malaysia: Growing interest from students 

EMGS data also shows growing interest from international students to pursue a PhD in Malaysia in the last two years despite periodic lockdowns — known as the Movement Control Order (MCO) in the country — due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In February, EMGS said 2021 saw a total of 11,161 international applicants for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programme in public and private institutions. Compared to 2020, the application numbers have almost doubled, with only 6,348 applications received in that year. 

There are many appeals to studying in Malaysia. EMGS said one possible draw factor for international students is the range of courses offered in Malaysian institutions, which include subjects in the humanities and social sciences, law, and general programmes, notes EMGS. 

Among Southeast Asian tertiary education institutions, Malaysian universities fare well in global rankings. Five are ranked among the top 200 universities in the world according to the 2022 QS World University Rankings. 

The Universiti Malaya, considered the most prestigious public institution in the country, is listed among the top 50 2022 Best Global Universities in Asia by the US News and World Report. 

Several Malaysian universities have also improved rankings in the 2022-23 edition of the Global 2000 List by The Center for World University Rankings. This includes Universiti Malaya and Universiti Putra University.

A total of 19,788 institutions were ranked, and those that placed at the top made the Global 2000 list.

studying in Malaysia

Visitors take pictures in front of the National Monument ahead of the 64th National Day celebrations to commemorate independence in Kuala Lumpur on August 30, 2021. Source: Mohd Rasfan/AFP

Travelling to Malaysia

Malaysia reopened its borders to international travellers beginning April 1, 2022. The country’s health ministry notes that incoming travellers to Malaysia must: 

  • Download the MySejahtera app and create an account
  • Fill up the digital pre-departure form via the “Traveller” icon on MySejahtera
  • Verify their digital COVID-19 vaccine certificate here
  • Take a pre-departure COVID-19 test within two days of departure
  • Purchase COVID-19 travel insurance (for short-term foreign visitors)
  • Professional rapid antigen test (RTK-Ag) within 24 hours of arrival
  • Five days quarantine for partially vaccinated or unvaccinated travellers (travellers can book their quarantine facilities here)

The Ministry of Health is also expected to announce further easing of COVID-19 restrictions tomorrow.