ALMOST a quarter of a century ago, Malaysia announced its Vision 2020, an ambitous plan to become a self-sufficient industrialised nation by the year 2020. One of its goals was to provide world-class education and, with six years to go, it is fast becoming a thriving hub for domestic and international students alike.
As well as boasting a vibrant economy, political stability, stunning landscapes and a unique brand of multiculturism, the reputation of its domestic universities is on the up. But what really makes the country stand out is its partnerships with leading universities around the world, many of which have branch campuses in Malaysia. If Malaysia wasn't on your map as a potential place to study, here are six reasons why you should put it there.
While not yet a rival to Singapore, Hong Kong, China or Singapore, Malaysia's domestic universities are fast improving.Universiti Malaya in the capital Kuala Lumpur is ranked 167th in the 2013/14 QS World University Ratings and its computer science, education and engineering programmes preside in the world’s top 100. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Bangi, Selangor, close to Kuala Lumpur, is well renowned in the education, politics, engineering, law and mathematics fields. And Universiti Sains Malaysia is the only institution in Malaysia to boast a subject in the top 50 - its environmental studies programme is ranked joint 28th.
2. You can get a US, UK and Australian degree there...
A major part of Malaysia's state investment in higher education is its growing partnerships with universities in other countries. Many foreign universities, especially Australian and British, have branch campuses in Malaysia. For example, Monash University (Australia) and the University of Nottingham (UK), both of which are in the top 100 universities in the world, have branch campuses in Malaysia. KBU International College is partnered with Anglia Ruskin, Nottingham Trent and Sheffield Hallam universities in the UK.
In the southern Malaysia city of Johor, developers are building EduCity Iskandar, a giant international student village and campus shared by eight leading universities. Four are operational and the others will be completed by the year 2018. They will include the universities of Reading, Southampton and Newcastle (medicine) in the UK, the Netherlands’ Maritime Institute of Technology, Singapore’s private Raffles University and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts from the US. An Olympic-sized swimming pool and14,000-seat sports stadium are among the impressive facilities the campus will boast when it is completed in 2018.
3. …at a lower cost
While an undergraduate course at the UK Campus of the University of Nottingham would cost £13,470, the same course at the Malaysia campus would cost just under half as much (39,990MYR/ approximately £7,000). The course is the same module content, has the same evaluation criteria and the same marking scheme which results in receiving the same degree with the same status, but at a significantly lower cost. Also take into consideration that the cost of living in Malysia in comparision to that of the UK is considerably lower too which means your maintenance costs are less of a financial burden too. It's a win-win situation.
Malaysia is amulti-ethnic melting pot. Just half the population is Malay while almost a quarter is Chinese and over seven per cent is Indian. Whilst Malay is the official language of Malaysia, English is a recognised language and widely spoken. Such a setting is a great foundation for international students to make them feel at home in addition to having a sense of belonging. The global community allows for religious, cultural and social acceptance and is testimony to the fact that Malaysia is home to just under 100,000 international students. Studying at university is not solely an academic experience and having the opportunity to appreciate the different facets, cultures and religions that make up the Malaysian identity is a learning curve in its own right.
5. It needs skilled graduates.
With certain industries on the rise and a growing economy, Malaysia is in need of skilled workers. Industry makes up a significant part of the country’s GDP with oil, gas and palm oil making leaps and bounds in the export markets. In addition, there is a particular demand for graduates in accounting, biotechnology and computer science sectors. Being able to witness the development of these industries will keep you ahead of the game as well as to having the opportunity to network to make the all-important contacts to get your first step on the career ladder.
Being a student may well be a full time occupation but a break every now and then is surely well deserved! Why not set off and explore the beautiful and diverse landscape Malaysia has to offer? You can wade through the jungle in Taman Negara National Park or head to the rainforest in Malaysian Borneo. Find a reprieve from the humid heat in addition to getting peace and quiet by heading up to the Cameron Highlands. Or walk through a UNESCO Heritage site in the form of the colonial streets of George Town in Penang before savouring the culinary delights there. But if you wish to escape it all, paradise is found in the form of the Perhentian Islands. Wherever you wish to explore, Malaysia has somewhere that will cater to your tastes.