Local University in Malaysia or Overseas University – Which One Should I Choose?

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We are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing university or college. Not to mention, you have options to study in another country as well. So, how then do you choose which is best for you – to study in Malaysia or in another country?

studying in malaysia

Pursue Studies in Malaysia

Malaysia’s education sector has been working for the past 10 years to increase quality of education and international recognition.

One way is to look at the SETARA and MyQuest ratings to measure and improve quality of Malaysia’s higher education.

SETARA measures the quality of teaching and learning and to award 6 star for different categories. The universities were rated based on four main criteria – General, Teaching and Learning, Research and Innovation, and Services. 

Introduced in 2011, MyQUEST, which stands for the Malaysian Quality Evaluation System for Private Colleges, evaluates and measures the overall quality of private higher education institutions in three categories: college based; cluster based; and international student services.


  1. The observable point to study within Malaysia is that we have affordable education for popular courses such as Engineering, Information Technology, Creative Design, and more. International universities have set up their campus in our country as well like Monash University, Xiamen University, and University of Reading to name a few. Imagine getting good teaching quality for a fraction of the entire costs
  2. Another option is to pursue international accredited programmes locally (eg 3+0 twinning programmes, transfer programmes, etc) which many local universities partner with international universities to offer their programme in Malaysia. This means that you can study courses and subjects that were designed by professors and lecturers abroad; while the classes are taught by Malaysian-based lecturers.
  3. What if you want to change to another course after completing the programme halfway? It may be easier and safer option to switch courses in Malaysia most importantly you have your parents’ support to walk you through your decision and the university’s policies.


  1. While you can choose from a good list of programmes to study in Malaysia, it is limited to popular or growing fields in Malaysia. For example, Early Childhood Education is gaining in popularity as people are aware the need to set a good foundation for a child’s early development. To study a specific programme, you may have to consider studying at neighboring countries at the moment.
  2. Based on the university and programme, you may face some difficulties to pursue postgraduate overseas. This is due to the requirement from the international university such as completing an extra year (also known as 4th year) of studies for 3 year programmes or pursuing additional qualifications to be a practicing lawyer.

studying in malaysia_abroad

Pursue Studies in Other Countries

The attraction to study in another country is common. You probably are already imagining the fun and excitement of finally experiencing being independent and feel it is a mix of study and holiday too!

Getting back to the serious mode – when it comes to choosing to study abroad, you need to consider which university to study in as well. Some of the main considerations are the lecturers’ teaching quality, faculty’s strength and specialization, and the subjects covered throughout the course. You can check the university’s international ranking based on Times Higher Education; do keep in mind that the popular and Ivy League universities are difficult to enter, hence, you should consider other options as well.


  1. The great aspect of studying abroad is that you get to choose from niche or specialized courses and programmes that Malaysia may not have yet. You will be at a great advantage to bring new knowledge and information to your career upon graduation. 
  2. Not only that, experiencing different cultures will help you stand out from the crowd as employers will find this invaluable to their company and team. Why? You will be able to recommend solutions to problems based on your exposure and critical thinking skills from another country. This will be very helpful for your own self-development too. 
  3. Being in a new place gives you this – a golden opportunity to start fresh, grow your independence, and develop new network of friends and professional career. Learn from them as they would from you; and build your network for your own development. This exposure will be valuable as it will open new doors and opportunities. 


  1. It is definitely more expensive to study abroad with additional expenses such as accommodation, food, and books; and also due to fluctuating currency exchange. It is difficult to get loan as well so parents most often help with the costs.
  2. If you are close-knitted with your family, you may need some time to adjust to the long periods of being away from your family. Homesickness affects everyone differently; hence, you will need a strong support group in the university you are considering to study in.
  3. You will need to adjust and adapt quickly to your new environment including potential culture shock and lecturer’s teaching style. At first, it may be overwhelming but you will get used to the change. Don’t be afraid but rather, embrace the challenge!

How do you decide?

There is no secret on how to decide but there are some things that you should keep in mind when deciding:

  1. Ask yourself 3 key questions, including the potential to pursue postgraduate (eg Masters, MBA, etc):
    • How long are you prepared to study?
    • What is your budget for the entire study period?
    • Do you see yourself building a career in this field after you graduate?
  2. Talk to your parents about your options because they are your main pillar for support and funding of your studies.
  3. Truly know yourself, for example – your strength, personality, study style, passion, interest, areas for improvement, ambition, discipline, and determination. These are questions that only you hold the answer to. Welcome difficult answers though you may not like it as this will reveal who you truly are.

The answer to the main question is – should you study in Malaysia or abroad?

Only you (together with your parents/family) can answer this.

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