Top Universities in Malaysia According to QS University Rankings 2020

By Nur Hafiza Abu Bakar | Last modified 30 Oct 2019
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top universities in malaysia qs world ranking

Malaysia has emerged as one of the top study hubs in Asia for international students to pursue their tertiary education. Known for producing credible and outstanding academic deliveries, both public and private universities in Malaysia have made a growing and strong presence in the QS University Rankings.

Malaysia’s higher education continues to reflect its flagship as it was ranked 25th in QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings in 2018, one of the four Southeast Asian (SEA) countries to make it into the list.

The ranking generally evaluates the overall strength of higher education in each country. Malaysia is expected to draw at least 250,000 international students by 2025 and this increasing number of international students coming in assisted Malaysia to climb up the ladder in the world university rankings. 

Top 10 Universities in Malaysia 

Below is the list of best universities in Malaysia, comprised of public and private universities based on the recent QS World University Rankings 2020:

1. Universiti Malaya (UM)

Universiti Malaya, the oldest and best public university in Malaysia took the first spot in the list and made a significant leap from the previous year ranking. It went from #87 in QS 2019 ranking to #70 for this year’s QS world university rankings, proving its continuous rise in producing a comprehensive educational approach. The university is a popular destination among international students for postgraduate studies as it is noted as Malaysia’s best research university.

2. Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)

Universiti Putra Malaysia holds a worldwide ranking at #159 and has continued to grow its position in the rankings. It was first established as an agricultural college, but its focus has expanded more towards other academic fields, covering both research and teaching outlines. This public university also has a large intake of international postgraduate students.

3. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia or also known as the National University of Malaysia maintains its ranking at #160. Like other public universities in Malaysia, UKM also has a large intake of both undergraduate and postgraduate students. It practices a strong focus on research, attracting students to pursue their students in this notable university in different field of studies.

4. Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)

Universiti Sains Malaysia is a public research university ranked at #165 in the world ranking. The university is well-noted in getting strongest scores for research papers. With a strong background in scientific studies, USM offers an array of majors like medicine, pharmacy, nursing, dentistry and health sciences. It also features other non-science courses in humanities, education, arts and social sciences. 

5. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)

Placed at #217 in the world university ranking, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia is a public institution that guides its students with a comprehensive syllabus related to engineering and technology for undergraduate and postgraduate level. The university also dedicates other fields of studies like sciences, management, human resources, medical engineering and more. 

6. UCSI University

UCSI University managed to claim the highest spot in the QS World University Ranking for a private university in Malaysia. Ranked at #442, UCSI reserves its international profile in advancing academic studies. It excels both in presenting quality research and teaching methods. Its graduates are also guaranteed with employability as UCSI partners with numerous international companies that can provide students with internship and job opportunities.

7. Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP)

Ranked #480, Universiti Teknologi Petronas is a university that was set up by the government when PETRONAS initiated the idea to build the institution. It is one of Malaysia’s youngest universities, established in 1997. UTP offers industry-focused academic fields which include engineering, science and technology. 

8. Taylor’s University

With a QS Global World Ranking positioned at #511-520, Taylor’s University is one of the best private universities in Malaysia that provides holistic excellent services on its academic and curriculum. It is listed in the top 1% of universities in Asia and recognised as  #14 university in the world for Hospitality & Leisure Management. Taylor’s also performs as one of the best private institutions in Malaysia that are favoured by world-class employers. 

9. Management and Science University (MSU)

Management and Science University is currently placed at #541-550 in the world ranking. The university prioritises graduates employability and offers courses that are relevant to the industry’s demands. MSU provides quality-driven education with a learning experience goes beyond academic achievements. Students will be given exposure to enhancing their soft skills in an engaging learning environment.

10. Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM)

Being one of the top academic institutions in Malaysia for higher education, Universiti Utara Malaysia scored a global world ranking at #591-600. UUM went through a major reconstruction on its colleges, offering students a wide array of study fields. Each college has its designed objectives and autonomy in presenting the course outline. The university is popular for its refreshing and serene atmosphere as the campus is surrounded by greeneries.

iium graduates

Other Notable Universities in Malaysia

There are other universities in Malaysia that deserve recognition despite not making into the top 10 QS world ranking. Besides QS, other rankings like SETARA and Times should also be taken into consideration. Although they do not make into the ranking, that does not mean they are less credible. 

Here are 10 other notable and top universities in Malaysia that are popular among international students:

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)


Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman is a private university that provides affordable quality education. The university has established a strong reputation in dedicating comprehensive teaching and research outcome. It offers more than 110 academic programmes from Foundation Studies to PhD degrees in both art and science courses.

Sunway University

sunway university

Sunway University is a private university that is ranked among the top 2% of universities in Asia. The university applies multi-disciplinary research in sustainable development within an urban environment and it strives to hit the educational global stage by promoting research-led teaching. 

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM)


International Islamic University Malaysia is a public university in Malaysia that promotes a harmonious blend of modern and traditional academic disciplines. Aside from using English as its medium of instruction, the syllabus taught in all courses is designed from an Islamic viewpoint. It envisions to become a leading international centre of educational excellence.

INTI International University


Known for providing educational excellence, INTI International University has become one of the best private universities in Malaysia. It accommodates students with a modern learning experience and good skills designed to make students equipped a complete set of quality attributes before graduating.

Asia Pacific University (APU)


Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation Malaysia is among Malaysia’s top-rated premier private universities. It specialises in technology, innovation and creative academic courses to produce graduates for significant roles in the industry.

Multimedia University (MMU)


Multimedia University is a private institution that offers programmes led to contributing to the technological industry. It was first established as a catalyst in conducting research projects and development projects. Now, it has expanded its niche areas to different fields such as engineering, robotics, virtual reality, nanotechnology and more.

Monash University Malaysia


Monash University is an Australian public research university that has campuses established in several cities and one in Malaysia. The students will be granted an internationally-recognised degree upon graduation. The university is served by qualified academic staff with a strong background specialising in each field. Students also have an opportunity to do an exchange study to other Monash’s campus in Australia for extra academic exposure.

Open University Malaysia (OUM)


Open University Malaysia offers programmes from a wide range of study disciplines which include education, languages, applied social sciences, business, science and technology. This private university believes in the democratisation of education as people of different backgrounds are given the opportunity to pursue their studies at OUM.

SEGi University


SEGi University is one of the largest private universities that has five campuses located in Malaysia. It provides quality higher education for major courses like accounting, early childhood, engineering, business courses, arts etc. The university holds onto its mission to offer employability-based programmes that are recognised in the global eyes with student-focused learning techniques.

HELP University


HELP University is recognised for a well-established international reputation among other private universities in Malaysia. HELP stands for Higher Education Learning Philosophy. The university offers various range of academic programmes from business, law, economics, management, IT to human sciences, covering both undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

If you are interested in furthering your education in Malaysia, you can read a complete Study in Malaysia guide that details out all the information needed like qualifications, tuition fees, cost of living, visa requirements, the best course to study and more. 

Choosing the Right University

how to choose university

Tips: Deciding which university to study can be daunting and stressful. Although university ranking plays an important part in determining the choice of university, other factors like campus environment, facilities, location, costs and graduate employability should also be considered. It is best to make a thorough research on the universities that cover different aspects as mentioned so the decision-making process will flow easier. 

What is QS World University Rankings?

qs university world ranking

QS World University Rankings is released annually; assessing the universities that ranked the best worldwide. It is done to exhibit each university’s academic reputation and the assessment is evaluated through different key aspects which include academic peer review, faculty/student ratio, citations per faculty, employer reputation, international student ratio and international staff ratio. The end results portray the university’s overall academic mission: teaching, research, graduate employability and internationalisation.

Posted on 23 Oct 2019
Infographic, Rankings, Study Abroad