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Misconceptions About Studying in Malaysia: Insights for International Students

April 21, 2024


misconceptions studying in Malaysia

Studying abroad can be an exciting and life-changing experience, but it often comes with its fair share of misconceptions. In recent years, Malaysia has emerged as a popular destination for international students seeking quality education in a vibrant and culturally rich environment. 

However, there are still many misconceptions surrounding studying in Malaysia that may deter prospective students.

So, we will debunk some common misconceptions about studying in Malaysia and provide valuable insights for international students considering Malaysia as their study destination. 

What are the common misconceptions about studying in Malaysia? 

Misconception 1: Poor quality of education 

One of the most prevalent misconceptions about studying in Malaysia is the assumption that the country offers a poor quality of education. This misunderstanding most likely results from ignorance about Malaysia's extensive higher education network and its dedication to academic achievement. 

In contrast, Malaysia is home to esteemed universities that are well-known throughout the world for their excellent academic programs and contributions to research. 

To guarantee that their curricula fulfill international standards, Malaysia's higher education institutions also place a high priority on accreditation and quality assurance.To uphold excellent academic standards, numerous universities in Malaysia are subjected to stringent accreditation procedures by respectable entities such as the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and international accreditation organizations. 

They also have access to a wide range of programs taught in English, offering them the opportunity to pursue their academic interests in a multicultural and stimulating environment.

Misconception 2: Safety concerns

Another common misconception about studying in Malaysia is related to safety concerns. Some prospective international students may be apprehensive about safety issues, thinking that studying in Malaysia might not be a safe option.

However, Malaysia is generally considered a safe country for students. While like any other country, it's not entirely free from crime, Malaysia boasts relatively low crime rates compared to other educational destinations.

In major cities such as Kuala Lumpur, where many international students choose to study, the local authorities have implemented various measures to ensure the safety and well-being of residents and visitors. University campuses also often have their own security measures in place, providing a safe and secure environment for students.

Misconception 3: High language barrier

misconceptions studying in Malaysia

Some prospective international students may be concerned about the language barrier in Malaysia, assuming that they will face challenges due to the prevalence of Bahasa Malaysia (the official language) and the perception that English proficiency may be limited.

However, in Malaysia, English is commonly spoken and understood, particularly among younger people. This can be attributed to Malaysia's history, during which the country was under British colonial rule, leading to the widespread use of the English language in official matters such as government affairs and tertiary education settings.

Moreover, many universities in Malaysia offer programs taught in English, making it easier for international students to study in their preferred language. Additionally, higher education institutions and language centers provide English preparatory courses to improve international students' English proficiency.

Furthermore, Malaysia's multicultural environment and diverse student population contribute to a supportive and inclusive atmosphere for international students, helping them adapt and thrive in their academic pursuits.

How diverse is the student population in Malaysian universities?

Some misconceptions might suggest that Malaysia is a homogenous society without much diversity. However, by highlighting the diverse student populations in Malaysia’s universities, it becomes evident that students from various ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds come together to study and collaborate.

This diversity enriches the academic environment and promotes cultural exchange and understanding, debunking the misconception that Malaysia lacks cultural diversity or is not welcoming to students from different backgrounds.

Here are some points to give a clearer picture of this diversity:

1. Ethnic diversity

misconceptions studying in malaysia

Malaysia is a multicultural country with a population consisting of Malays, Chinese, Indians, and indigenous groups. This diversity not only enriches the academic experience but also promotes cultural exchange and understanding among students.

The diverse student body fosters an inclusive and dynamic learning environment, where students have the opportunity to interact with peers from different cultural backgrounds, exchange ideas, and broaden their perspectives.

This multicultural setting not only enhances the academic experience but also prepares students for the globalized world beyond graduation.

2. International students population 

Malaysia is increasingly recognized as a leading destination for international students seeking high-quality education at a reasonable cost. The country's universities offer a wide range of academic programs, from undergraduate to postgraduate levels, in various fields of study. 

Moreover, many universities in Malaysia have established partnerships with renowned international institutions, providing students with opportunities for global exposure and collaboration.

For instance, Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation (APU) University has the largest population of international students and is even acknowledged as Ranked No.1 for International Students in Malaysia based on QS World University Ranking 2024.

3. Cultural Exchange

Due to the diversity of the international student population, higher institutions in Malaysia lean toward facilitating cultural exchange between students.

Some ways how international students may explore the difference in traditions:

a) Participating in extracurricular activities

One of the best ways for international students to learn about local cultures is by participating in extracurricular activities. Many universities in Malaysia offer a wide range of clubs, societies, and cultural events where students can engage with local traditions, such as traditional dance, music, and arts. By joining these activities, international students can immerse themselves in Malaysian culture and gain a deeper understanding of the local way of life.

b) Befriending Malaysian students

Another effective way for international students to learn about local cultures is by befriending Malaysian students. By building friendships with local students, they can experience Malaysian hospitality firsthand and learn about local customs, traditions, and daily life. 

c) Attending cultural festivals and events

Malaysia is known for its vibrant cultural festivals and events, such as Hari Raya, Chinese New Year, and Deepavali. International students can learn about Malaysian culture by attending these festivals and participating in the celebrations. These events offer a unique opportunity to experience Malaysian traditions, taste traditional foods, and witness cultural performances.

4. Academic collaboration

The diverse student population in Malaysian institutions also contributes significantly to academic collaboration and research. Students from different cultural, national, and academic backgrounds bring a wealth of unique perspectives, experiences, and ideas to the table, fostering innovation, creativity, and academic excellence.

Through collaborative projects, group discussions, and research initiatives, students have the opportunity to engage with peers from diverse backgrounds, exchange ideas, and explore new concepts. 

This multicultural academic environment encourages students to think critically, challenge assumptions, and explore interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving.

Moreover, the cultural exchange and collaboration that occur within this diverse student community extend beyond the classroom. Students have the opportunity to participate in various cultural events, international forums, and academic conferences, further enriching their academic experience and preparing them for success in a globalized world.

What are the career prospects like for international graduates of Malaysia’s universities?

One of the key considerations for international students when choosing a study destination is the potential for career advancement and job opportunities after graduation. To debunk the misconception of low employability percentage or not enough qualification level of education to find a job for international students after graduation in Malaysia, here are some facts regarding the matter:

1. Quality education and global recognition

Contrary to misconceptions, Malaysia's universities are known for their high-quality education and global recognition. Many universities in Malaysia have partnerships with international institutions, providing students with access to a global network and enhancing their credentials in the eyes of employers worldwide.

2. Industry-relevant skills

misconceptions studying in Malaysia

Malaysia's universities prioritize equipping students with industry-relevant skills, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for the global workforce.

This practical approach to education goes beyond theoretical knowledge, focusing on practical skills and hands-on experience that are directly applicable to the workplace.

Through industry partnerships, internships, and experiential learning opportunities, students have the chance to gain real-world experience and develop the skills that employers are looking for. 

Whether through industry placements, research projects, or collaborative initiatives with businesses, students have the opportunity to apply their knowledge in real-world settings, enhancing their employability and making them valuable assets to employers.

Furthermore, many higher education institutions in Malaysia, especially private universities, offer specialized programs and certifications in collaboration with industry partners, ensuring that graduates have the specific skills and expertise needed to excel in their chosen fields.

Also read: Initiatives by Universities in Malaysia to Prepare Students for Globalization

3. University support

Most Malaysia's institutions provide a range of job opportunities for their graduates. Through extensive connections and networking with a variety of global organizations, international students need not fear unemployment after graduation.

Universities in Malaysia often have robust career services departments that assist students in finding employment opportunities, internships, and industry placements. 

These departments facilitate networking events, career fairs, and workshops to connect students with potential employers and help them develop essential job-seeking skills such as resume writing and interview preparation.

Furthermore, many universities have strong ties with industries relevant to their academic programs, allowing students to gain practical experience and establish valuable connections while still studying. This exposure to real-world work environments not only enhances students' employability but also equips them with the skills and experience needed to thrive in their chosen fields.

4. Multinational companies and diverse industries

Malaysia's economy is diverse, offering opportunities in various industries such as finance, technology, manufacturing, and tourism. International graduates have the opportunity to work for multinational companies operating in Malaysia, gaining valuable international experience and enhancing their career prospects globally.

With its strategic location in Southeast Asia and its well-developed infrastructure, Malaysia serves as a regional hub for many multinational corporations. This presents international graduates with a wealth of job opportunities and the chance to develop their careers in a dynamic and rapidly growing economy.

Also read: Career Opportunities Post Graduation in Malaysia

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