Higher Education in the Malaysian context covers Certificate, Diploma, undergraduate levels as well as postgraduate studies. Undergraduate studies consist of Bachelor's Degree levels and professional while the postgraduate studies consist of the Master's Degree and Ph.D levels.
Higher education at Certificate and Diploma levels are for students from the age of 17 with SPM (which is equivalent to GCSE 'O' level) while the Bachelor's degree level is usually for students from the age of 19/20 onwards with postsecondary qualifications such as the STPM (which is equivalent to GCE 'A' level) or Pre-University / University Foundation qualifications. These degree programmes normally take between 3 to 5 years. After obtaining their Bachelor's degree qualifications students can proceed further to do postgraduate studies. Tertiary or higher education in the academic and professional fields is provided by:
- Public-funded institutions of higher learning which include public universities, polytechnics, community colleges and public university colleges, public colleges
- Private higher educational institutions which include private universities, private colleges and foreign university branch campuses.
Medium of Instruction
English is being used as the primary medium of instruction at most of the private higher educational institutions in the country. For public universities, most of the postgraduate studies are conducted in English while Bachelor's degree programmes are primarily taught in the Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, except for subjects related to Science and Mathematics which are conducted in English.
Below explains the type of institutions available:
- Public Universities are fully funded government universities.
- Polytechnics train school leavers to be skilled technical assistants and technicians in various engineering fields, or junior & middle level executives.
- Community Colleges are institutions for SPM or SPM(V) school leavers to train, 'reskill' or 'up-skill' themselves.
- Teacher Training Colleges are responsible in producing teachers under the management of Teacher Education Division in the Ministry of Education.
- Technical & Vocational Education is an alternative to academic qualifications. It emphasises on hands-on training & skill up.
- Private Universities & University Colleges are private owned universities, established by financially sound corporations. They can confer the award of Bachelor degrees & other higher qualifications. They also collaborate with reputable foreign universities to jointly award degree qualifications.
- Foreign University Branch Campuses are the branch campuses of foreign universities located in Malaysia and they award degree qualifications that are identical to that of the host universities (overseas). These institutions make it possible for students to obtain degree qualifications from the branch campus by paying the cost of a Malaysian education (at affordable level).
- Private Colleges are colleges run by private sector to provide tertiary education to school leavers. Malaysian private colleges are renowned internationally for their long established twinning-degree-programme arrangements with foreign renowned universities. In addition, most of these PHEIs are also providing a most unique education structure, that is, the 3+0 degree programmes. Under this arrangement, students have a choice of pursing the British, American, Australian, French, NZ or Canadian programme leading to Bachelor's Degree qualifications, without having to leave Malaysia.