Malaysia

General Information

General information about the geographic location, climate, people and cultures of Malaysia is given below.

Location

Malaysia is located in the centre of South East Asia. It is constituted by peninsular Malaysia in the west and the north Borneo states of Sabah and Sarawak in the east. It shares a border with Thailand in the north, Indonesia in the west and south, and Singapore in the south.

Climate

Located within the equatorial region, Malaysia has equatorial rainforest climate which does not exhibit distinct seasonal changes. Average temperature in the day is about 32°C, while that at night is about 26°C. The southeast monsoon wind in the South China Sea blows from every October to March the following year. It brings high atmospheric humidity and heavy rains and starts the rainy season. Although the rain is usually heavy, it usually comes suddenly and stops after a short while. Long-lasting rain is uncommon. While it is rather hot in the day, there is usually torrential rain in late afternoon, after which the air is cooled. This leads to the saying that Malaysia "is summer the whole year round but it turns autumn after a rain."

Population

Malaysia is a multiracial country with a population of about 30 million. Malays form the largest portion of the population which is followed by Chinese and Indians. There are many ethnic groups in Sabah and Sarawak.

Languages

The Malay language is the official language in Malaysia. As the country was a British colony for over a century, English is still widely used today officially especially in commerce and among the people. Mandarin or Putonghua and Tamil are also popularly used by the Chinese and Indian communities respectively.

Currency Exchange

The official currency in Malaysia is the Malaysian ringgit (MYR or RM). The approximate exchange rates are 100 USD = 425 MYR and 100 CNY (RMB) = 52.6 MYR. Exchange rates vary daily. For the latest exchange rates refer to a reliable source for example www.xe.com.

History and Culture

History

The Malacca Sultanate founded in the early 15th century is commonly considered the first independent state in the Malay Peninsula. Malacca was an important commercial centre during that time, attracting trade from around the region. In particular, during his seven expeditionary voyages down the western seas, Ming Dynasty's Admiral Zheng He visited the sultanate five times and built the solid foundation of the close relationship between the two countries. The Malacca Sultanate was in the decline in the early 16th century. It was later conquered first by the Portuguese, then the Dutch and British.
The British extended its control over the entire Malay Peninsula and North Borneo and colonised these states for 171 years. Through the concerted efforts of the major races Malays, Chinese and Indians, the Malay states obtained its independence from the British and Malaya was founded on 31 August 1957. Malaysia, comprising Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak, was formed in 16 September 1963. However, Singapore exited Malaysia and became an independent nation on 9 August 1965. As a British colony for over a century, the British influence after the independence remained strong. The legal, political, government, education and other systems of Malaysia followed those of the British. The English language and the British education system continue to play its irreplaceable role in Malaysia.

Culture

Malaysia is a multiracial and multicultural country. Malaysians of different ethnicities live harmoniously together. Each culture respects and appreciates the different cultures of others and people jointly celebrate festivities of other cultures. Such a phenomenon has created a cultural scenario unique to Malaysia. Over the generations, these culturally diverse people have been living under the same land and working hard to contribute to the country's economic development. Every major ethnic group is represented in the political, socio-economical and cultural spheres in Malaysia exploiting the advantages of different cultures in nation building. The cultural diversity is truly a blessing to Malaysia.
As the Malaysian multicultural people are living together in a geographically small country, they speak many languages. Malaysians in general speak the national language Malay. Most of the local Chinese speak Mandarin or Putonghua and Chinese dialects, while Indians speak Tamil and other Indian dialects. English is widely spoken at work especially in the cities. To cater to the different cultural backgrounds of the Malaysian people, various languages of instruction are used in its education system. Malay is used in the national primary and secondary schools and public universities, Mandarin in Chinese primary schools and Chinese independent secondary schools, and Tamil in Tamil primary schools, while English is the language of instruction in private colleges, universities and international schools which also accept international students. Students of different local ethnicities are generally found in schools and of different nationalities in colleges and universities.

Food Paradise

The ethnic diversity in Malaysia has made it a food paradise. The local Malay, Chinese and Indian food which is widely served in hawker stalls and restaurants, while other Asian such as Japanese, Korean and Middle Eastern, and Western cuisines are also available and they are all lowly priced. Of the local food, Malay and Indian cuisines are generally spicier than Chinese.
In Malaysia there are many seasonal tropical fruits such as durian, mangosteen and rambutan. The weekly 'pasar pertanian' or agricultural produce market and 'pasar malam' or night market are good places to buy these fruits fresh along with other local and imported fruits.
As night falls and there emerges another unique Malaysian scene. People especially the young gather at many hawker food centres which serve a myriad of food and drinks. Supper is really a favourite pastime of Malaysians. The young people also spend time in the evening sipping their choice coffee and enjoying music at their favourite 'kopitian' or coffee shops decorated with different themes.

Malaysian Delicacies

There are many delicacies in Malaysia of which two favourites are 'satay' and 'nasi lemak'.
Satay is a dish comprises pieces of marinated sliced beef, chicken, mutton or other meat skewered with a midrib of coconut palm leaf. These are grilled over a charcoal fire before being served with 'ketupat' or rice cake, sliced cucumber, onion and pineapple, and a spicy sauce with pounded fried groundnut.
Nasi lemak is a fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and aromatic 'pandan' leaves which is served with spiced dried anchovies, hardboiled egg, fried groundnut and cucumber slices. It is a popular Malaysian breakfast.

The prices of various popular Malaysian dishes are as follows.


Satay

RM0.50 per skewer

Nasi lemak

RM2.00-RM3.00

Roti canai (South Indian style flatbread)

RM0.80-RM2.00

Combo or economy meal of three dishes and rice

RM3.00-RM4.00

Chicken rice

RM3.00-RM4.50

Char kuey teow (stir-fried flat rice noodles)

About RM3.50

Bread

RM1.00-RM2.00

Fast food

RM6.50-RM12.00

Lunch at restaurant or coffee shop without air-conditioning

About RM4.00

Lunch at restaurant or coffee shop with air-conditioning

RM8.00-RM15.00

Canned soft drink

RM1.00-RM1.20

Shopping Paradise

Besides being a food paradise, Malaysia is also a shopping paradise. World-class brands are available in most big shopping complexes in the country. There is also annual sale nationwide when there are discounts up to 70% on all brands. In general, international students can get their daily items from shops near where they stay.

Important Information

Information about tuition fee and living expenses studying in Malaysia is given below.

Tuition Fee

Tuition fee of a course depends on the level and duration of the course. The following gives the approximate tuition fees of various popular courses available in Malaysia.
English Language Course -- RM1,000-RM3,000 per level
English language courses of different durations are available in Malaysia to cater to the needs of students. Generally the courses have four to six levels with each level lasting three to four months. Depending on the language schools or institutions concerned, the tuition fee for each level ranges from RM1,000 to RM3,000.
Pre-University Programme -- RM7,000-RM14,000
Depending on the future bachelor degree programme and the institution you will be studying in, pre-university or foundation programme can last from eight months to 1.5 years and the tuition fee ranges from RM7,000 to RM14,000.
Diploma Programme -- RM18,000-RM40,000
Standard Malaysian diploma programme has a duration of 2.5 years. Depending on the field of study and institution, tuition fee ranges from RM18,000 to RM40,000.
Bachelor Degree Programme -- RM38,000-RM80,000
Depending on the field of study, duration of a bachelor degree programme is three or four years and depending on the institution, tuition fee ranges from RM38,000 to RM80,000.
Master Degree Programme -- RM25,000-RM60,000
Generally, a master degree programme last from 1.5 to 2 years. Depending on the field of study and institution, tuition fee ranges from RM25,000 to RM60,000.
Living Expenses -- RM6,000-RM7,000 per year
Living expenses of a student studying in Malaysia mainly depend on the lifestyle of the student -- how much he or she depends on accommodation, food, transport, entertainment and others. For a reasonable lifestyle a student spends about RM6,000 to RM7,000 on living expenses in a year. Rental and transport are generally fixed components of living expenses. These expenses depend on the location where the student stays and its distance from the campus.
Accommodation -- RM150-RM350 per month
Rental depends mainly on the location of accommodation while staying in hostel on campus is generally cheaper than staying off campus. Most colleges and universities offer on-campus accommodation to students only for the first semester or first year, while longer periods may be offered depending on availability. For students staying off campus, rental for a single or shared room ranges from RM150 to RM350 per month, while that for a house ranges from RM650 to RM1,500 per month.
Transport
Public transport is convenient in cities and major towns in Malaysia. Trains, buses and taxis are available. Students may even own their own vehicles.
Currency Exchange
Many currency exchange outlets are conveniently located in cities and major towns in Malaysia. The approximate exchange rates are 100 USD = 327 MYR and 100 CNY = 52.6 MYR. Exchange rates vary daily. For the latest exchange rates refer to a reliable source for example www.xe.com.

How to Apply

The following describes the entry requirements and application process for international students to study in Malaysia.

Entry Requirements

Most Malaysian university colleges and universities are mainly recruiting international students for bachelor degree programmes. Generally, grade-10 students with middle grade and above are accepted. Depending on the institution applied for, a certain level of English proficiency based on ToEFL or IELTS may be needed.

Application Documents

The important documents are certified true copies of relevant qualification certificates, examination result transcripts and school/institution-leaving certificates.

Application Process

The application process for international students to study in Malaysia is given below.

  1. Applying student prepares application documents and apply to the institution.
  2. The institution assesses the application and replies the student offering admission to the institution if the student qualifies.
  3. The student uses the institution's offer letter for passport processing.
  4. The institution applies for student's entry visa from Malaysian authorities.
  5. Once the institution has received the approval letter from the authorities, it sends the approval letter to the student.
  6. The student uses the approval letter to apply for the one-time entry visa at the Malaysian embassy or consulate.
  7. Once the entry visa is obtained, the student then books air ticket and inform the institution on the arrival date and time. The institution will arrange for airport pick-up when the student arrives and register the student with the institution.

Please note that applying for student's entry visa, the student does not need to submit financial guarantee letter and be interviewed. Processing takes about two to three months.