Malaysia University

Universities in Malaysia 
Part of Malaysia's plan for higher education expansion is in welcoming international branch campuses, which are run by universities based in other countries. Existing branch campuses include those operated by the UK’s University of Nottingham and Australia’s Monash University. 

Malaysia’s investment in branch campuses can be seen in the new EduCity development in Johor, at the southernmost tip of Peninsular Malaysia, just 5km north of Singapore. Due to be completed in 2018, this 350-acre campus will be shared by eight international branches run by leading universities from around the world. These include the University of Reading, the University of Southampton and Newcastle University Medicine, all hailing from the UK, as well as the Netherlands’ Maritime Institute of Technology, Singapore’s private Raffles University and the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts from the US.

But, while the growing presence of overseas universities in Malaysia is broadening the country’s higher education offering, its home-grown universities should certainly not be overlooked. Malaysia’s higher education system was ranked 27th in the new QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings in 2016, reflecting the strength of its flagship universities.

Universiti Malaya (UM)

The highest ranked and oldest of universities in Malaysia, Universiti Malaya (UM) is ranked joint 133rd in the QS World University Rankings® 2016-2017 and is located in central Kuala Lumpur. With a student population of over 17,000, including over 3,000 international postgraduate students, Universiti Malaya has been steadily growing its multidisciplinary reputation, appearing in the global top 400 for 26 out of a possible 42 subjects covered by the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016, including positions among the world’s top 50 for development studies and electrical and electronic engineering.

Universiti Putra Malaya (UPM)
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) made a good leap in the 2016-2017 rankings, from joint 331st to 270th, overtaking USM to be the second-highest ranked university in Malaysia. Located mainly in Serdang, it’s considered one of the country’s leading research universities and was originally founded in 1931 as a school of agriculture. This legacy is reflected in its performance in the subject rankings; of the 19 subjects in which UPM is internationally ranked, it appears within the top 100 for agriculture and forestry.​

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)
Also ranked among the world’s top 350 universities is Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), which is ranked joint 228th and is located in Johor Bahru.  The oldest public engineering and technology university in the country, UTM specializes in technical studies and offers a comprehensive engineering division. This is reflected in the subject rankings, in which it appears 12 times and in the top 100 for architecture, electrical engineering and chemical engineering. 

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
Located in Bangi, Selangor, approximately 35km south of Kuala Lumpur city center, the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) is ranked joint 302nd in the world. Hosting a student community of just over 22,600, the school boasts particularly strong programs in the fields of education, politics, engineering, law and mathematics. The Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia also has a graduate school on its main campus and a medical school located in the suburb of Cheras, with a branch campus within the capital.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), also known as the University of Science Malaysia, currently ranks at 289th in the world and ranks within the global top 50 for its chemical engineering programs according to the latest QS World University Rankings by Subject, with 22 positions in the ranking overall. The school has three campuses, with its main campus in Penang, its health campus in Kelantan and its engineering campus in Nibong Tibal. The school also has plans to open a global campus in the capital.


Also featured in the QS World University Rankings are: the International Islamic University Malaysia (601-650), new entry Universiti Teknologi Petronas (Petronas, also 601-650), Universiti Teknologi MARA – UiTM (701+) and Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), which is also ranked 701+. Another university in Malaysia which deservse a mention for its impressive positions in this year’s QS World University Rankings by Subject is Multimedia University in Melaka, halfway between Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru.

Universiti Teknologi MARA

Many private universities in Malaysia offer a ‘twinning’ or ‘2+1’ degree option. An idea that has been running in Malaysia for around 20 years, this allows students to complete part of their degree in Malaysia and part at a partner institution in another country. This option has been popular, as it offers the chance to gain a degree accredited by a prestigious university in an established higher education destination (such as the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, France or Germany) without paying the full costs of studying abroad for the entire length of the degree.