Things to know before studying in Malaysia
:  The study-abroad landscape could be in for a dramatic makeover in the coming years what with the emergence of countries like Singapore and Malaysia as viable options. While nothing is set in stone, these Asian countries, buoyed by world-class infrastructure and strong support from their respective governments, today have a number of their universities listed in the QS best universities in the world ranking. If there is one thing holding back Malaysia, it is that it is bit of an unknown terrain for some students, who would ideally like to know more about the country before studying in Malaysia.


When we speak of things to know before studying in Malaysia, it could be anything from popular courses offered at top universities, the culture, popular sights to visit, work opportunities, to the food habits of the people. Remember, our desire to study in the USA, Australia, or for that  matter the UK not only breeds from the fact that they have top universities and great infrastructure, but also because we are familiar with so many facets of these countries, whether through Hollywood or the idiot box, where western movies and serials are the trending topics. So, here we try to demystify Malaysia so that you have one more option before you along with the traditional favorites (study-abroad destinations).

So here we bring you a list of things to know before studying in Malaysia:


Dos and don’ts in MalaysiaDos and don’ts in Malaysia: Unlike in the Gulf, despite being a Muslim-majority country, Malaysia is far more liberal and wears its multiculturalism as a badge of honor. Nevertheless, like any other country, it has its own set of dos and don’ts that you are expected to follow when studying in Malaysia. Also remember, Malaysia is sort of an idealistic society, with all the major communities, Hindus, Buddhists and Muslims participating in their religious and cultural activities with great enthusiasm. Here are some of dos and don’ts when studying in Malaysia:

  • Mind the gender: While men and women equally participate in every sphere of social life in Malaysia, don’t take it as permission to get intimate with the opposite sex in public. Also, Islam forbids physical contact between opposite sex, so don’t be surprised if a woman refuses to reciprocate your handshake.

  • Bikini isn’t the ideal beachwear: Malaysia is chock-full of stunning beaches, and you may feel tempted to take out your bikini wear.  But just check if it is allowed, because most tourist areas don’t. Women instead are found to swim fully clothed.

  • Touching someone’s head could cause a brawl! People in Malaysia believe that the head is where the soul resides, making it the most sacred body part. So unless you are very friendly with someone, don’t poke at the head.

  • Conservative-dressing can open doors: If you are in Kuala Lumpur or in a beach, a little skin might be acceptable, but otherwise dress moderately, especially when visiting a temple or mosque. Essentially, the dress should cover your arms and legs.

  • Malaysia isn’t alcohol friendly: Muslim majority Malaysia doesn’t appreciate people who are drunkards, even though alcohol is available in major cities and tourist destinations.

  • Don’t flaunt your alternate sexuality: If you don’t conform to the conventional norms of sexuality, don’t try to grab eyeballs by flaunting it while studying in Malaysia. It will do nothing except bring misery for you.  

Malaysia inspires you to treatMalaysia inspires you to treat your life as an adventure: If you wouldn’t mind mixing a little bit of fun to your life while pursuing your degree abroad, Malaysia is just about the ideal place. Because, along with the many stunning cities dotting the country, you will be welcomed by colonial architecture bearing stories of the country’s imperial past, rolling tea plantations that invariably draw comparison with tea plantations in Assam or Darjeeling, and stunning beaches that tell an intriguing tale every time you visit them. Then there are remote tribes, which will deepen your interest in history, while the mischievous orangutans in the wild jungles of Borneo would keep you guessing about what could be their next move. Studying in Malaysia you will get to see and experience all these and more, like how this culturally diverse country –it is home to about 50% Malay, 24% Chinese, and 7% Indian –manages to thrive.


Accommodation: When studying abroad, you have to carefully consider your accommodation options: on-campus accommodation or off-campus accommodation. Typically, on-campus accommodation is considered the ideal choice for international students. The reason being living units at universities, like at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, apart from being well equipped, are outfitted with ports for telephone and provide access to campus IT facilities and the internet. The only problem is seats for on-campus accommodation tend to be limited, and so while studying in Malaysia, you might have to go for off-campus accommodation.       


Some of the other facilities you can look forward in an on-campus accommodation include:

  • Cafeterias

  • Multipurpose hall

  • Tennis courts

  • Store and common room

If you fail to get into on-campus accommodation when studying in Malaysia, you needn’t panic, because there are plenty of off-campus private accommodations nearby. But when booking a private accommodation, do check pointers like the price, facilities offered, and importantly distance from the university.


Health Insurance: Like in all major study-abroad destinations, you need to have medical health insurance for the period of your study in Malaysia. Some of the treatments that need to be covered by the policy may include:

  • Personal  Accident & Death;

  • In-patient  Services;

  • Repatriation; and

  • Out-patient Services.

The minimum premium can be in the range of RM300.00 per year (source: Universiti Teknologi Malaysia). UTM also recommends that students only buy insurance policies from the insurance provider nominated by it. While medical care in Malaysia isn’t as costly as, say, it is in Australia or the USA, the point is with a medical insurance in hand you don’t have to worry about running helter-skelter in times of an emergency. Also, the last thing you would want is getting tangled in a financial mess in a foreign country, when your primary focus is getting a degree. 

Scholarships: While the cost of studying in the USA and UK can be anything upwards of $30,000, its a paltry $9,000 in Malaysia. If that isn’t incentive enough, there are a host of scholarships available before students to study in Malaysia, which would bring down the cost further.  Some of the prominent scholarships include the Malaysian International Scholarship (MIS) initiated by the Malaysian Government and the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP).

Some of the benefits of MIS scholarship include:

  • Approved tuition fees

  • Medical/Health insurance

  • Annual grant for books and internal travel

  • Monthly maintenance allowance

  • Air fare for travel to Malaysia

In addition to government scholarships, individual universities also extend a number of scholarships to attract brilliant minds from across the world. University of Malaya, for example, offers Graduate Research Assistantship Scheme. 

Popular courses to study: While a country may be a top study-abroad destination, it isn’t necessary that it is the best place to study any subject. For example, Germany is suited for research-oriented courses and engineering, but if you would like to study MBA, France could be a better choice. Likewise, Malaysia also has its pet courses. Chemical Engineering, Business and Accountancy, Electrical and Electronic Engineering and Chemistry are some of the top courses to study in Malaysia, as each of these courses are listed in the QS list. While for chemical engineering, the best places to study in Malaysia are USAM and UM, you can study business accountancy at USM, which is ranked 89 for Management Studies, and UM (ranked 101-150).


Work opportunitiesWork opportunities: The concept “part-time job” is gaining ground among international students, which is a good thing considering that studying abroad, even in a country like Malaysia, where tuition fee and cost of living is relatively modest, is far costlier than their homecountry. You can work during study in Malaysia for a maximum of 20 hours per week, during:

  • semester breaks

  • festive holidays

  • more than seven days of holiday

Some of the popular places to work include restaurants, petrol kiosks, mini markets and hotels. However, international students are barred from working as a cashier, singer, musician, guest’s relations officer and masseur. Additionally, students shouldn’t involve themselves in any activity deemed immoral.

Food habitsFood habits: The change in food habits is a major concern for students when studying abroad, with many finding it difficult to cope with the constant intake of foreign food. In fact, there is an assortment of choices available before you, starting from Indian, Chinese, Malay and Thai cuisines, which again reinforce the multicultural fabric of the country. And there is sea food too, with dishes like shrimp-laced sambal and coconut-steamed rice with peanuts and dried anchovies being the major highlights.


Stay tuned to for more news and updates on Malaysia





Also read:

Things to know before studying in USA

Things to know before studying in UK

Things to know before studying in Singapore

Top courses to study in Malaysia


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Malaysia Updates and Articles

Questions related to Malaysia

Showing 4 out of 4 Questions

Hi, Im an Indian citizen planning to study BMed & MD at Monash University (Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Science) Malaysia Branch, the degree offered is from Monash University Australia and the course offered at the Malaysian campus is accredited by MCI. Do I still need to sit FMGE?

Manidipa Kundu Student Expert 21st Apr, 2020


according to fmge latest notifications, candidates who have completed their ug as well as  pg medicine course from the below mention country need not required  to write the fmge exam,



New Zealand

United Kingdom

United States of America

such candidate can directly register with MCI or SMC for the certificate to practice in india.


IS GMAT must to get into MBA in Malaysia

Manidipa Kundu Student Expert 7th Mar, 2020


gmat stands for graduate management aptitude test, and it score is accepted in many abroad and overseas countries mba colleges for admission in different management related program , however there is many colleges in malayasia which admission is based on your academic score, where gmat is not necessary, however I suggest you to check the placement , infrastructure information before take admission in any college.


Hello, I am an Indian citizen currently in my 10th semester of MBBS in Malaysia. I am expected to finish in August 2020, would you recommend for me to sit for the December exam? And if yes, when does the registration start? Is there any official website that I can have a look at. Thanks.

Animesh Vats Student Expert 8th Mar, 2020


Well you can give the December exam if you are well prepared. The registration will begin in the month of October for the December exam. And then exam will be in December. The website link is attached below. You can visit the website once to know more.

I hope my answer helps.

All the best.


My kid is doing A levels in Malaysia with Biology Chemistry & Maths only. No Physics. Is she eligible to apply for NEET 2020. It is compulsory to attempt NEET exam to get eligibility cert. to do MBBS from abroad. Is physics needed... as UK accepts Maths OR Physics for MBBS admission.

Priyaanka Sarkar Student Expert 30th Oct, 2019

Dear Sandeep, you haven't mentioned your kid's Nationality. If your kid has Indian Citizenship but is in Malaysia only to study but plans on appearing for NEET as an Indian National, then yes NEET is mandatory either to study in India or abroad. For beibg eligible for NEET, he/she should have completed 10+2 or equivalent with Biology, Chemistry and Physics as his/her core subjects. Physics is a mandatory exam for NEET. There cannot be any exception to that whether the country your kid chooses to study needs Physics or Mathematics. Physics, Chemistry and Biology are the mandatory subjects to appear for NEET. This rule applies to NRIs, OCI, and PIOs who want to study MBBS in India. But if your kid is a NRI/OCI/PIO then he/she doesn't need NEET to study in another country.

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