Study Abroad Series | Cost of Education | Scholarships.

Importance of Education.

Nurul Azlyna, as a young mother, shared her views on the escalating cost of education. She cited Nelson Mandela, that ‘education is the only powerful weapon which you can use to change the world’. Thus, seeking knowledge should be a continuous mission for everyone. While it is not compulsory for Malaysians to pursue tertiary studies, it certainly offers many benefits including career preparations, being competitive and improves social skills. A graduate also stands a chance for higher earning as reported by Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF). The higher education one attains, the higher starting basic salary he/ she receives, reflecting the positive correlation between education level and economic benefits.

The significant increase in tertiary enrolment rates from 14% in 1970s and 1980s to 44% in 2018[1] indicates Malaysia’s aspiration towards efficient human capital in becoming a developed nation, higher awareness among Malaysians towards the importance of higher education and more access to tertiary education. Today, there are 20 public universities and more than 50 private learning institutions in Malaysia that provides abundance choices for the school leavers. 

Cost of Tertiary Education.

Despite the greater access for tertiary education, students must consider the cost to pursue their study that includes tuition fees, travel costs, living expenses as well as the purchase of related learning materials. Many cases, students are demotivated due to the financial restraint.

Generally the education fee is depending much on the courses, level and the institution type. For instance, the cost to do Bachelor of Accounting for 4 years in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) is approximately RM60,000 but the similar degree within same duration can cost up to RM80,000 in Sunway University. Realizing this, government has allocated huge amount for education funding through scholarship in national budget every year to ease the students’ burden. In Budget 2020 for example, RM170million was allocated for scholarship in tertiary education level.

Study Abroad.

At the moment, annual costs are roughly estimated at:

CountryTuition fees rangeCost of living range
USAUS$6,000 – 40,000US$10,000 – $15,000
UK£4,000 – £21,000£9,000 – $12,000
AustraliaAU$9,000 – $18,000AU$18,000 – $20,000
New ZealandNZ$14,000 – $21,000NZ$12,000 – $15,000
CanadaC$2,000 – $16,000C$15,000 – $20,000

For undergraduate students, the tuition fees ranges between £10,000 and £18,000 (indicative) a year, depending on the course and the institution. For all postgraduate courses, tuition fees vary by the course provider.

S.noStudy ProgrammeAverage Fees (in Euros*)
1.Undergraduate bachelor degree£6,000 to £9,000 per year
2.Postgraduate master’s degree £10,000 to £16,000 per year
3.Doctoral degree£13,000 to £29,000 per yearr

Note that average costs may be higher or lower than the middle of these ranges, and you’ll need to apply the current exchange rate to see what this equates to in your own currency.

Types of Funding.

  • Scholarships are usually based on merits or other achievements. They are awarded by the government, organization, corporations and foundations.
  • Bursaries and grants are usually for students in need of financial aid, or for projects. They are from universities and related organizations.
  • Education funds or loans are provided by the government, foundation, universities and banks to help students complete their studies. Repayment is usually expected.


Many scholarships available in Malaysia for students to choose that are offered by government organizations (e.g. the Public Services Department, or JPA), state agencies, corporate sponsorship, non-profit organisations (NGO) and the religious council. The scholarships can be full, partial or a fixed amount while the placement can be at public or private local universities. Some scholars may able to get sponsorship for studies in abroad universities. The bond may be required for the scholars to serve their funder for a period of time after graduation.

The competition however is certainly high. According to Ministry of Education (MOE), out of 389,498 students that sat for SPM 2019, 59.99% candidates obtained at least a pass for all subjects they sat for, with 8,876 of them getting grade A+, A and A- for all subjects. Thus, only the best will win the spot. However, it is important to note that most scholarships require more than outstanding academic achievements.

Next Week.

There are around 50 organizations and institutions offering scholarships for tertiary education. We will catch up with these.

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