Education in Malaysia: Best International Schools for Foreign Students

6 min read|Last Updated: April 15, 2024|

Malaysia is a hot favourite for international students, attracting students from over 150 different countries. Find out more about the education in Malaysia, and the top international schools available for foreign students.

What is the School Structure in Malaysia?

The school system in Malaysia is structured on a 6+3+2+2 model, with six years of compulsory primary education from the age of seven, followed by three years of lower secondary education, two years of upper secondary, and two years of pre-university senior secondary study.

Level of Education Duration Assessment
Primary 6 years, compulsory Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah
(Primary School Achievement Test)Students automatically progresses to secondary school if they opt to do so.This commences at the age of 7 and is seen as a continuation of pre-school education. Here, children study subjects such as moral education, Islamic education, science, and physical education.
Lower Secondary 2 years, optional Penitaian Menengah Rendah’ or

Lower Secondary AssessmentStudents who pass will choose to join one out of the three speciality schools; Academic, Technical & Vocational or Religious.

This is for students aged 13 to 17, and is divided into lower secondary and upper secondary education. Two different final tests exist depending on whenever the students have been following a technical or vocational education path.

Upper Secondary 2 years, optional Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia’

(SPM – Open Certification Examination)

Students who successfully attain SPM will be able to go on to Pre-University or matriculation studies, or they can enter private colleges or universities for pre-university programs to advance to bachelor’s degree studies or other programs of their choice

Studying in Malaysia

The admission criteria for the 3 categories of schools are as follows:

  1. Primary, Lower and Upper Secondary Schools
    There are four different types of schools in Malaysia available for enrolment:

    • Public Schools
    • Private Schools
    • International Schools
    • Special Staffs  for the Schools
      The most affordable option is public school. It should be noted that in public schools, the primary language used is Bahasa Melayu.Most expatriates turn to private or international schools despite its high costs as the students in those schools have a common bond of being expats in the country, and this may reduce the culture shock.
  2. Diploma/ Degree Programmes
    International students must have at least twelve (12) years of education and have undergone a national/international examination recognized by the Ministry of Education for the purpose of admission to diploma or degree programmes.Students will also have to obtain acceptable scores for the IELTS, TOEFLT PBT and Pearson Test of English. They will also have to test for Cambridge Advanced English Test and the Malaysian University English Test band 3 and submit their high school certificate, a transcript of records, and a valid passport.
  3. Matriculation ProgrammeThe Ministry of Education Matriculation Programme is a preparatory one for bumiputeria students with the Malaysian Certificate of Education for qualifying for degree courses in science as well as technology and professional arts in public as well as private universities. Pre-university studies last for 2 semesters. Programme curriculum focuses on academic aspects without leaving aside the co-curricular aspect.

Accreditation and Quality Assurance

Accreditation and quality assurance in Malaysia is minded by the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Education, Malaysia.

The divisions under the Department of Higher Education provide services in their concerned areas for improving the quality of education and the courses offered. They ensure that public and private higher educational institutions in Malaysia provide education of the highest quality, meeting international standards. Policies are planned, implemented, and monitored by this department, and it is also responsible for ensuring that higher educational institutions have conducive and comparable facilities to global standards.

Entry to Malaysian Schools

Under Malaysia’s education policy, a non-citizen cannot study in a government school at any level of education without a valid foreign student pass. A visa is also compulsory aside from some exempted countries.

Here are the requirements to apply for a valid foreign student pass:

  • One picture of yourself, with 35mm x 45mm dimensions and a white background.
  • A copy of your passport, showing the following:
    • Your personal information
    • Issuance and expiry date. The passport must be valid for at least 12 months.
    • All the previous visas you have obtained.
    • The page which states any amendments (extensions, clarifications of name, and previous passport numbers).

      Pages of all the pages of your passport, only if you are from one of the following countries:

      • Iran
      • Iraq
      • Libya
      • Somalia
      • Sudan
      • Syria
      • Yemen
  • The letter of acceptance from your Malaysian educational institution.
  • Previous academic certificates and transcripts.
  • Medical certificate, proving you are of good health. You must undergo a pre-arrival medical screening at a registered clinic overseas.
  • Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate, if you are from a country or you recently travelled to a country that is at risk of Yellow Fever transmission.
  • A Personal Bond, which all foreign students have to sign in an effort to ensure they will not violate the Immigration laws of Malaysia. If you do not violate any laws, the bond will be returned.
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency. You must undergo an English Language test and attach the certificate which shows you have an acceptable level of English. Malaysia accepts certificates from the following tests:
    • IELTS (International English Language Testing System)
    • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language)
    • PTE – Academic (Pearson Test of English)
    • CAE (Cambridge English: Advance)
    • CPE (Cambridge English: Proficiency)
    • MUET (Malaysian University English Test)
Malaysia Corporate Secretary Liyana

Top International Schools in Malaysia for International Students

If you are looking for international schools in Malaysia, here’s a quick list of some of them!

School Name Location in Malaysia About the School
EPSOM COLLEGE MALAYSIA Bandar Enstek, Negeri Sembilan Curriculum: IGCSE and A-Levels

One of the most prestigious British private boarding schools in the world. Offers kindergarten, pre-school program, primary and secondary school classes

ALICE SMITH SCHOOL Seri Kembangan, Selangor Curriculum: IGCSE and A-Levels

Located in a remote location with a green, spacious environment and a relaxed atmosphere. With a 86% of British Students, Alice Smith is the top choice for the British Community.

GARDEN INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur Curriculum: IGCSE and A-Levels

One of the most distinguished schools in KL, the student population comprises 70 nationalities of whom 65% are expatriates, including large numbers of Japanese and South Korean.

INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL OF KUALA LUMPUR Ampang Hilir, Kuala Lumpur Curriculum: IB and American curriculum

Being the first school in Malaysia to offer the increasingly popular IB and American curriculum, priority is given to US curriculum based pupils and the American community.

KOLEJ TUANKU JA’AFAR Mantin, Negeri Sembilan Curriculum: IGCSE and the Malaysian national syllabus, followed by A-Levels

The majority of the student body is made up of Malaysians, Indonesians and South Koreans. 40% of the teachers are from the UK with most local staff boasting degrees from overseas.

Malaysia has numerous different international, private, and government schools that serve their own purpose. Each school offers various learning education types and levels of affordability to fit your needs.

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FAQs

Does Malaysia have scholarships for good academic performance?2024-04-15T16:01:12+08:00

The Malaysian International Scholarship is a scholarship from the Government, for students who intend to enter a master’s or graduate school. The scholarship consists in the payment of: air travel, accommodation, education, medical insurance, visa costs, the cost of organizing scientific activities, educational materials and manuals, travel within the country.

This is a great advantage for foreign students to receive a scholarship or a grant for good academic performance.

Which is the best state to study in?2024-04-15T16:01:33+08:00

Most Expatriates choose Kuala Lumpur due to the proximity to the city and job opportunities. KL also has a significant expatriate community and where most of the renowned institutions are also located.

Can I work part time while studying?2024-04-15T16:02:11+08:00

International students may only work part time during the semester break or holidays longer than 7 days at certain workplaces as long as their student pass is valid.

Applications to work part time must be made through the educational institution at which the international students are enrolled.

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