Experience this multi-ethnic, multicultural and multilingual society first-hand as you take advantage of everything this incredible study abroad destination has to offer. Whether you're exploring Kuala Lumpur, a modern city known for the tallest twin towers in the world, or enjoying the natural wonders of Taman Negara, you are sure to enjoy Malaysia.



Languages Spoken:

English, Malay (macrolanguage)

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION OVERVIEW 

Higher education in Malaysia falls under the purview of the Ministry of Higher Education. Institutions of higher education offer courses leading to the awards of certificate, diploma, first degree and higher degree qualifications in academic and professional fields. A basic bachelor's degree program typically takes three years. The exceptions to this are professional programs such as medicine, law and engineering, which often require additional years. Master's and doctoral programs range in length from two to three years and require coursework and a thesis or dissertation. 

In Malaysia, higher education is offered by both public- and private-sector institutions. Public institutions are public universities, polytechnics, community colleges and teacher-training institutes. The Malaysian government funds about 60% of the higher education institutions. Private higher education institutions include private universities, foreign branch campus universities and private colleges. 

 

STUDYING IN MALAYSIA 

Courses 

UPSI offers courses in a number of disciplines including education, agriculture, the arts, science and languages. Most academic departments offer lecture series and seminars in English. Independent study and examinations can be arranged in most fields when no classes are offered in English. Some classes may be taught in Malay with English support from the faculty.  

Registration 

Check with your host institution's coordinator for enrollment policies and procedures.  

Course Load 

The typical course load is five to eight courses per semester, and the typical student spends 15 to 18 hours in class per week. Each semester runs approximately 17 weeks long. 

Exams & Grading 

Continuous assessments are used in evaluation. You will be assessed throughout the semester in the form of daily work (e.g. essays, quizzes, presentation and participation in class), projects, term papers and practical work (e.g. laboratory work, fieldwork, clinical procedures, drawing practice). 

Grades are based on a score ranging from 0.00 to 4.00 with corresponding letter grades. Each letter grade has a corresponding status. A score of 4.00 equates to an A grade and a status of Distinction. A score of 2.4 - 2.00 equates to a C+ or C and a status of Pass. A 0.00, or F, is a Failing distinction. 

Transcripts 

Your transcript will be sent directly to the ISEP Global Office four weeks after the examination period ends. ISEP will mail it to your home ISEP Coordinator, assuming all financial obligations have been met.  

Visa and Residency

Visa regulations can change at any time and without notice. Students should always consult their local Consulate or Embassy to verify the most up to date visa information. All students are required to obtain a visa to enter Malaysia. Visa requirements can vary depending on the country your passport is issued in. 

Applying for a Malaysian student visa (Student Pass) is more difficult than applying for the student visa of many other countries. Please be patient and read through all documents very carefully. Please note that it is not possible to extend the 6-month Student Pass in the destination. If you wish to study for another semester in Malaysia, you must return to your home country and start the application process again. If you are thinking of applying for two semesters in Malaysia, you should apply for both at once, so that you can apply for the 1-year visa.

Type of visa: Student Pass

Visa fee: Varies, around $300 USD

When to apply: Immediately upon acceptance

 

View the list of required documents here

Malaysia embassy in the United States consular services

 

Application Guidelines:

There are four main steps to the visa process

1. Electronic Visa Approval Letter application (eVAL)

2. Single Entry Visa application (SEV)

3. Student Pass application (the actual student visa)

4. Cancellation of the visa

Students can apply (1) online or (2) through their host institution

 

Before being eligible for applying for a student visa (Student Pass), students must apply for an electronic Visa Approval Letter (eVAL) through EMGS (Education Malaysia Global Services) and pay the processing fee to EMGS.

Students can start the eVAL process right after they have received the Offer Letter from the Malaysian host university. The processing time for the eVAL application is about 5–8 weeks, depending on whether the student has succeeded in delivering the correct documents.

After the eVAL is ready, you can download it from the system and apply for a Single Entry Visa in your home country.   It is not possible to arrive in Malaysia before you have eVAL and SEV.

The final Student visa (Student Pass) is a multiple entry visa. The host university gets the Student Pass to student’s passport from EMGS in the beginning of the semester. This takes around 4 weeks. 

 

Application Requirements:

• Passport with 12-month validity 

• Offer letter from host university

• Academic certificates and transcripts

• Medical examination report

• Personal bond

• No objection certificates

• Letter of eligibility

 

General Processing Time:

1. Electronic Visa Approval Letter application (eVAL) up to 8 weeks

2. Single Entry Visa application (SEV) generally 4 weeks

 

Culture

LANGUAGE AND RELIGION

Malaysia is a melting pot of races and religions. Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups make up the population of this culturally and geographically diverse country. Malay is the national language, but English is also widely spoken, as well as various languages and dialects spoken by the many ethnic groups. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, but Buddhism and Christianity are widely practiced, as well as other religions. The term Malay refers to a person who practices Island and Malay traditions, speaks the Malay language and whose ancestors are Malays. Malays make up more than 50% of the country's population.

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Greetings among people should be formal as a sign of respect. A simple handshake is the most common greeting as well as smiling and nodding the head. Malay women may not shake hands with men; rather, the man may bow to the woman. When meeting a Hindu, it is most common to place hands by the chest and say "Namaste". When meeting a Muslim, it is most common to say "Salam" and place fingers on the heart. Malaysians are very relaxed, friendly people, but do not typically show much emotion in public; therefore, public displays of affection and anger are frowned upon.

CUSTOMS

It is a custom in Malaysia to use the right hand for everything. Malays generally eat with their hands, even rice dishes. However, even when eating food with a knife and fork, it is important to eat using the right hand.

If you are invited to someone’s home for dinner, it is customary to bring the host a gift of pastries, fruit, chocolate, flowers, etc. Alcohol is not an appropriate gift. Shoes must always be removed when entering a Malaysian home.

There are countless other cultural differences to be aware of while in Malaysia. For instance, it is incredibly rude to touch the top of a person's head. The right pointer finger is not used to point at places, objects or people. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folder under is preferred. Finally, you should avoid touching people of the opposite sex.

FAMILY AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE

One main aspect of Malaysian life is family. The family is considered the center of the social structure, and is where one can be guaranteed emotional and financial support. Oftentimes, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins all live together in one area. There is a great emphasis on unity, loyalty and respect for the elderly. It is a duty for children to take care of their parents in their old age.

FOOD

Malaysian cuisine is just as diverse as its population. Some traditional dishes include: Laksa, Satay, Lemak, Nasi, Roti Canai, Rendang, Murtabak, and fried noodles and rice. Tea (teh) and coffee (kopi) are as common in Malaysia as in the rest of the world. Alcohol is generally served in the city areas, but is harder to find in rural areas. Alcohol is banned from Muslim restaurants and cafes.

Malaysian cuisine has become interlinked with traditional Chinese cuisine because of their increasing contact. Seafood dishes have been influenced by Chinese traditions such as steamed soft noodles with shrimp, red bean paste and deep-fried dumplings with salted eggs. Malaysian people are very fond of Nyonya foods, which is a combination of Malay and Chinese food. Nyonya food is often served in restaurants and is accompanied by many variations of dishes such as Thai, Indian and Portuguese cuisines.

Food stalls, traditionally wooden pushcarts, can be found on the roadsides throughout the country. These stalls typically serve standard noodle and rice dishes, and sometimes delicacies including oysters and squid curry. Sophisticated restaurants are only found in the city. These tend to be more expensive and offer international food.

LGBTQAI+

It is recommended that LGBTQAI+ students conduct personal research on their host country before departing for their program. The articles BELOW may be a good starting point on such research. However, students should keep in mind that social attitudes and acceptance may vary based on a number of factors including region, age, and the local political climate. If you would like to be connected with your host coordinator or an alumni who identifies as LGBTQAI+ before your departure, please contact your Program Manager.

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/malaysia/local-laws-and-customs

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/22/malaysia-accused-of-state-sponsored-homophobia-after-lgbt-crackdown

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/04/the-reality-of-malaysia-laws-on-homosexuality-rage/

Daily Life

LANGUAGE AND RELIGION

Malaysia is a melting pot of races and religions. Malays, Indians, Chinese and many other ethnic groups make up the population of this culturally and geographically diverse country. Malay is the national language, but English is also widely spoken, as well as various languages and dialects spoken by the many ethnic groups. Islam is the official religion of Malaysia, but Buddhism and Christianity are widely practiced, as well as other religions. The term Malay refers to a person who practices Island and Malay traditions, speaks the Malay language and whose ancestors are Malays. Malays make up more than 50% of the country's population.

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Greetings among people should be formal as a sign of respect. A simple handshake is the most common greeting as well as smiling and nodding the head. Malay women may not shake hands with men; rather, the man may bow to the woman. When meeting a Hindu, it is most common to place hands by the chest and say "Namaste". When meeting a Muslim, it is most common to say "Salam" and place fingers on the heart. Malaysians are very relaxed, friendly people, but do not typically show much emotion in public; therefore, public displays of affection and anger are frowned upon.

CUSTOMS

It is a custom in Malaysia to use the right hand for everything. Malays generally eat with their hands, even rice dishes. However, even when eating food with a knife and fork, it is important to eat using the right hand.

If you are invited to someone’s home for dinner, it is customary to bring the host a gift of pastries, fruit, chocolate, flowers, etc. Alcohol is not an appropriate gift. Shoes must always be removed when entering a Malaysian home.

There are countless other cultural differences to be aware of while in Malaysia. For instance, it is incredibly rude to touch the top of a person's head. The right pointer finger is not used to point at places, objects or people. Instead, the thumb of the right hand with four fingers folder under is preferred. Finally, you should avoid touching people of the opposite sex.

FAMILY AND SOCIAL STRUCTURE

One main aspect of Malaysian life is family. The family is considered the center of the social structure, and is where one can be guaranteed emotional and financial support. Oftentimes, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins all live together in one area. There is a great emphasis on unity, loyalty and respect for the elderly. It is a duty for children to take care of their parents in their old age.

FOOD

Malaysian cuisine is just as diverse as its population. Some traditional dishes include: Laksa, Satay, Lemak, Nasi, Roti Canai, Rendang, Murtabak, and fried noodles and rice. Tea (teh) and coffee (kopi) are as common in Malaysia as in the rest of the world. Alcohol is generally served in the city areas, but is harder to find in rural areas. Alcohol is banned from Muslim restaurants and cafes.

Malaysian cuisine has become interlinked with traditional Chinese cuisine because of their increasing contact. Seafood dishes have been influenced by Chinese traditions such as steamed soft noodles with shrimp, red bean paste and deep-fried dumplings with salted eggs. Malaysian people are very fond of Nyonya foods, which is a combination of Malay and Chinese food. Nyonya food is often served in restaurants and is accompanied by many variations of dishes such as Thai, Indian and Portuguese cuisines.

Food stalls, traditionally wooden pushcarts, can be found on the roadsides throughout the country. These stalls typically serve standard noodle and rice dishes, and sometimes delicacies including oysters and squid curry. Sophisticated restaurants are only found in the city. These tend to be more expensive and offer international food.

LGBTQAI+

It is recommended that LGBTQAI+ students conduct personal research on their host country before departing for their program. The articles BELOW may be a good starting point on such research. However, students should keep in mind that social attitudes and acceptance may vary based on a number of factors including region, age, and the local political climate. If you would like to be connected with your host coordinator or an alumni who identifies as LGBTQAI+ before your departure, please contact your Program Manager.

 

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/malaysia/local-laws-and-customs

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/aug/22/malaysia-accused-of-state-sponsored-homophobia-after-lgbt-crackdown

 

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/09/04/the-reality-of-malaysia-laws-on-homosexuality-rage/

Health and Safety

Your health and safety is our number one priority. Please read and reference our Guides and Tips section for general information regarding health and safety abroad. 

Detailed information about Malaysia can be found here. Please pay special attention to the Safety and Security, Local Laws and Special Circumstances and Health sections. 

Note: Information sourced on this page is provided by the U.S. Department of State. Non-U.S. nationals should disregard the Embassies and Consulates and Entry, Exit and Visa Requirements sections. 

If you are planning to bring your prescription or over-the-counter medicine on your trip, you need to make sure your medicine is travel-ready.  

Currency

CURRENCY AND CONVERSION

The monetary unit of Malaysia is Ringgit Malaysia. It is written as RM or MYR. Bills are available in RM1, RM5, RM10, RM20, RM50 and RM100. Coins are available in 5, 10, 20 and 50 sen (cents). You sometimes hear the word "dollar" used in reference to the ringgit.

Banks and airports are not the best places to exchange money if it is not urgent. Licensed money changers in major shopping malls often have the best rates. See Xe.com for the current exchange rate.

BANKS AND ATMs

Major banks in the country include Citibank, HSBC, Maybank and CIMB Bank. Note that in Muslim states Friday is the holiday, while Sunday is a working day, so bank hours may change. Banks in all sizeable towns have ATMs.

Although ATMs are widely available in cities and debit cards can be used in most shops, restaurants and hotels, please keep in mind that due to fraud, some places in Malaysia do not allow you to withdraw money using a U.S. debit card. Most hotels, restaurants and retail outlets accept credit cards. In smaller, local shops it can be more difficult to use a credit card. While traveling, carry adequate amounts of cash is advised.

COSTS

Most visitors will find Malaysia quite inexpensive, although it is noticeably more expensive than neighboring Thailand and Indonesia. Traveling in a group helps to keep costs down. Bargaining is common throughout the country when buying foods in markets or small shops.

TIPPING

Tipping is becoming more common in Malaysia, but is still not considered a requirement, nor is it expected. A 10% service charge is typically added to the bill at a restaurant, and this is meant to cover the tip. However, it is not uncommon to tip the server extra, especially at a crowded bar or restaurant. The main exception to this rule is hotel service; it is customary to tip the bellhop or room service for their assistance.

DISCOUNTS

Look into purchasing an International Student ID Card (ISIC) card from STA travel. It costs just $25 and can often get you discounts on travel, movie tickets and more. You should also research whether a monthly public transportation pass is available for purchase, and whether this is more cost advantageous than individual fares, which can add up quickly.

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