Where to study in Malaysia besides KL and PJ?By Jocelyn | Last modified 13 Sep 2022
Admit it - you’re tired of reading endless articles about universities in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya only.
Although moving to one of Asia’s most affordable study hubs has its benefits, not everyone enjoys the hustle and cost that comes with it.
There are underrated states in Malaysia that are homes to top universities that offer similar opportunities to fresh graduates and even international students.
Here are some of them:
Image source: Unsplash, Cristoph Theisinger
Why study in Penang?
Georgetown, the heart of Penang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The oriental and British architecture built by people from Penang’s past remain unchanged and protected, creating a unique blend of modernism and heritage.
Living cost is fairly affordable in Penang. The food is cheap and accommodation is easy to find, especially because most universities in Penang offer accommodation within their campus. Also, you only need to spend less than RM 10 (USD 2) on public transportation each day!
Depending on the location and your spending habits, we estimate your living cost in Penang to be around RM 600 to RM1,200 per month or USD 130 - USD 270.
Public transportation is widely available. This includes buses, ferries, taxis and e-hailing services. There is also the Penang International Airport with extensive routes to major cities in Southeast Asia, so travelling in and around Penang is convenient and affordable.
Activities & Entertainment
You will never get bored as a student in Penang. Perfect for history and architecture lovers, a quick stroll in town can give you plenty of inspiration!
Penang also has huge malls that cater to your wants and needs and all of them are within public transportation reach. The island is rather small, which means you are closer to the sea! You can visit the beach anytime you want and it is also students’ favourite weekend activity aside from shopping!
Universities in Penang Island
Local and international students alike flock to Penang to attend university. From pre-university to postgraduate levels, you can find a wide range of programmes here. One of them is also included in the QS World University Rankings:
- Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) - 143rd in QS World Ranking 2023
- SEGI College Penang
- RCSI & UCS Malaysia Campus
- UOW Malaysia KDU University College (Penang Campus)
As Penang is developing rapidly over the past few decades, fresh graduates can find more career opportunities here and potentially settle down on this island!
Now, let’s talk about West Malaysia - Sabah & Sarawak.
Why study in Sabah?
Known as the second largest state in Malaysia, studying in Sabah allows you to fully take in the richness of their natural treasures. If you think Penang has beautiful beaches, Sabah will certainly take your breath away. Just take a look at these stunning pictures:
Image source: Pexels, Iqx Azmi
Image source: Jimmy Chan, Pexels
Image source: Vacation Key
Rich with marine life and protected wildlife and forests, students studying marine biology, zoology, and courses related to nature and forests will love Sabah. You learn everywhere you go!
Living cost is higher compared to West Malaysia, about RM 1,000 to RM 1,500 per month (USD 220 to USD 330). However, every penny is worth it!
Sabah can be accessed via flight, and you can take buses, taxis and boats to get to certain places. Despite the limited choices, you don’t have to worry about it too much because university campuses are fully equipped with all your student needs.
Activities & entertainment
You will never get bored of Sabah. World-renowned for its vast wildlife reserve and beaches with crystal clear waters, you will find yourself feeling adventurous during semester breaks and weekends.
There are plenty of cultural activities. You will get to meet people from different ethnics and tribes, opening your heart and mind to accepting the different cultures around you.
Universities in Sabah
As mentioned above, Sabah is the perfect destination for students passionate about marine biology, studying animals, forest conservation, geology, environmental science and any other science-related courses. Some universities in Sabah are:
- University of Malaysia Sabah (UMS)
- Open University Malaysia Sabah Campus
- International University College of Technology Twintech (Sabah)
- Tunku Abdul Rahman University College Sabah Campus
- INTI College Sabah
- Universiti Teknologi MARA
Additionally, if your passion lies in educating the underprivileged, you can major in teaching and dedicate your effort to the village children in Sabah. It is certainly a rewarding job despite the challenges of getting to the schools.
Image source: Unsplash, James Lo
Why study in Sarawak?
The largest state in Malaysia is home to over 40 ethnic sub-groups. Besides experiencing a completely unique study experience, you will gain exposure to the different cultures, traditions and languages, just like in Sabah.
Living in Sarawak as a student also feels less hectic compared to Kuala Lumpur and Petalin Jaya. With a cluster of local and international universities available, rest assured that you will get the best higher education experience out of Sarawak.
Similar to Sabah, the living cost is higher compared to West Malaysia, about RM 1,000 to RM 1,500 per month (USD 220 to USD 330). But it will be an experience of a lifetime, so go for it if you can!
Sarawak can be accessed via flight, and you can take buses, taxis and boats to get to certain places. Despite the limited choices, you don’t have to worry about it too much because university campuses are fully equipped with all your student needs.
Activities & entertainment
As a student, you will find plenty of things to do to fill your time. Along with new friends and local peers, you can explore Kuching the capital of Sarawak and learn a lot along the way, such as historical buildings, museums, forts, caves and also the iconic river taxi or ‘perahu tambang’ to visit some villages. One thing’s for sure - you will love it here.
Image source: Unsplash, S.Ratanak
Image source: Unsplash, Adzim Musa
Universities in Sabah
- University of Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS)
- UCSI University Sarawak Campus
- SEGI College Sarawak
- Sarawak Maritime Academy
- Swinburne University of Technology
- Curtin University Malaysia
*currency rate as of September 2022