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General Information

Malaysia boasts one of south-east Asia’s most vibrant economies, the fruit of decades of industrial growth and political stability.

Its multi-ethnic, multi-religious society encompasses a majority Muslim population in most of its states and an economically-powerful Chinese community. Consisting of two regions separated by some 640 miles of the South China Sea, Malaysia is a federation of 13 states and three federal territories.

It is one of the region’s key tourist destinations, offering excellent beaches and brilliant scenery. Dense rainforests in the eastern states of Sarawak and Sabah, on the island of Borneo, are a refuge for wildlife and tribal traditions.

ndmark Petronas Towers: Malaysia made the transformation from a farm-based economy

Landmark Petronas Towers: Malaysia made the transformation from a farm-based economy

Special Report: Malaysia Direct

Ethnic Malays comprise some 60% of the population. Chinese constitute around 26%; Indians and indigenous peoples make up the rest. The communities coexist in relative harmony, although there is little racial interaction – and the overturning of a ban on the use of the word “Allah” by non-Muslims in December 2009 highlighted the religious divide in the country.

Although since 1971 Malays have benefited from positive discrimination in business, education and the civil service, ethnic Chinese continue to hold economic power and are the wealthiest community. The Malays remain the dominant group in politics while the Indians are among the poorest.

The country is among the world’s biggest producers of computer disk drives, palm oil, rubber and timber. It has a state-controlled car maker, Proton, and tourism has considerable room for expansion.

indigenous Penan people of Sarawak have been affected by large-scale logging

Malaysia’s economic prospects have been dented by the global economic downturn, which has hit export markets hard. In March 2009 the government unveiled a $16bn economic stimulus plan as it sought to stave off a deep recession.

Concerns have been raised that the drive towards further industrialisation could pose a serious threat to the environment. The Borneo rainforest is under pressure from palm oil plantations, and environmental campaigners have expressed misgivings over wholesale logging in the state of Sarawak.

Environmental activists have also objected to plans for a rare earths processing plant in the state of Pahang.

The country also faces the challenge of sustaining stability in the face of religious differences and the ethnic wealth gap.

Malaysia’s human rights record has come in for international criticism. Internal security laws allow suspects to be detained without charge or trial.

Detailed Information

Becoming An International Student In Malaysia

Thinking of studying in Malaysia? You’re not alone. According to UNESCO, Malaysia is the 12th most popular education destination for international students. Becoming an international student in Malaysia is a simple process – read on to find out how..

The process of applying to enter Malaysia as a student is simple. There are about 110,000 international students from more than 100 countries studying in Malaysia – testimony that Malaysia is a popular choice for international students.

If you are considering becoming an international student in Malaysia, you may be wondering where to begin in applying to study in this country. The chart below outlines the steps involved in preparing you to become an international student in Malaysia. There is no centralised system for international student application. This means that prospective students need to apply directly to the institutions they are considering.

  1. Identify your education needs (the type of programme, field of study, level of study, etc.)
  2. Get to know the Malaysian Education System
  3. Identifying your preffered choice of institution(s) and verify that you meet the admission criteria
  4. Submit application forms, relevant documents and application fee to selected institution(s)
  5. If your application is accepted, go on to the next step; if rejected, re-view your choices in step 3 and apply for another institutions
  6. Successful candidates will receive an acceptance letter from the institution/s
  7. Accept the offer; subsequently, the education institution will apply for a student pass (VAL)/visa for you. When you have obtained your VAL, apply for a single entry visa (if applicable)
  8. Prepare to come to Malaysia
  9. Enrol at the institution

Good to know

There are over 500 private higher educational institutions in Malaysia but only about 200 of these institutions approvedby the Ministry of Home Affairs to recruit international students. In contrast, all public universities are allowed to recruit international students. Do make sure that the institution you’re applying to is authorised to enrol international students.

Students are advised to consult the student counsellors or relevant representatives of the institution on the type of programmes offered and its entry requirements. Also, find the budget that best fits your needs. Malaysian institutions offer many options that will meet most students’ requirements. Assistance in the application of a Student Pass and Visa to enter Malaysia is usually provided by the institution at which the student is enrolled. The immigration procedure is fairly simple.

If you have the chance, visiting Malaysia to check out the institutions you have shortlisted will help you make a better decision when choosing which college or university at which to enrol. You can also get more information by searching our Institution Search page.


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