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.

Malaysia School Structure

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 EducationDurationAssessment
Primary6 years, compulsoryUjian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah
(Primary School Achievement Test)Students automatically progresses to secondary school if they opt to do so.
Lower Secondary2 years, optionalPenitaian Menengah Rendah’ or
Lower Secondary AssessmentStudents who pass will choose to join one out of the three speciality schools; Academic, Technical & Vocational or Religious.
Upper Secondary2 years, optionalSijil 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 Degree studies or other programs of their choice

Studying in Malaysia

The admission criteria for the 2 categories of schools are as follows:

  • Primary, Lower and Upper Secondary Schools

    There are four different types of schools in Malaysia available for enrollment:

    • Public Schools
    • Private Schools
    • International Schools
    • Special Needs 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.

  • 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.

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 more 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 as 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)
NOTE: If you are from Sudan or Iran, you will need a no-objection certificate (NOC) and letter of eligibility (LOE) respectively. This can be applied at in the Sudanese or Iranian Embassies in Kuala Lumpur.

Top International Schools in Malaysia

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 MALAYSIABandar Enstek, Negeri SembilanCurriculum: 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 SCHOOLSeri Kembangan, SelangorCurriculum: 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’AFARMantin, 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.

Make Your Move to Malaysia

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.

Decided on studying or moving to Malaysia? Reach out to us for your application today for seamless transition!

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Does Malaysia have scholarships for good academic performance?2021-09-12T22:41:39+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?2021-09-12T22:40:47+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?2021-09-12T22:40:24+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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