The following information for international students in Malaysia details what every

international student needs to know to have an enjoyable stay in Malaysia: 

Planning to study in Malaysia

The decision to study abroad and eventually planning to study in Malaysia may not be an easy task. An important consideration before planning to study in Malaysia is an analysis and understanding of student critical success factors in a host country such as the country’s culture, religion, weather and language.

  • Culture: Malaysia is a multicultural society. The Malaysian culture is discussed a bit more below.
  • Religion: Malaysia is a Moslem country and Islam is the state religion. However, Malaysia makes allowance for other religions to be practiced such as Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and others. If Islam is not the state religion in your country, it may be important to consider how this may affect your dressing, public speech and actions.
  • Weather: Malaysia is 8 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+8 GMT). The features of the Malaysian climate are uniform temperatures, high humidity and copious rainfall. Temperatures can reach 30 degrees Celsius during the day and may plunge to about 20 degrees Celsius at night. Hence, cotton, cool and light clothing is advised.
  • Language: English is the medium for teaching on most tertiary institutions in the country. However, Malay is the most widely spoken language in the country. Mandarin, Tamil and other dialects are also spoken. Since Malaysia is a multicultural society, you can expect to hear other languages and be sure that your language will be spoken.

Choosing the college/university

Prospective international students need to consider the following points when choosing a college/university:

  • Ensure you choose an institution that best provides for your intended course    of study. Some colleges are more specialized colleges than others.
  • Ensure that your chosen college is allowed by the Malaysian authorities to recruit international students. It is worth restating that not all colleges are allowed to recruit international students in Malaysia.

Moreover, for a general knowledge of the tertiary institutions in Malaysia, you may review our information on study in Malaysia. If you need help on choosing a suitable college/university, we will be glad to furnish with down-to-earth, practical and relevant information to aid your decision-making by filling a short form here.

Application procedures

  • Submit an international application  form with the requested documents from the educational institution approved to recruit international students.
  • The institution accepts the application and applies for the student pass from the Malaysian Immigration service.
  • Upon approval by the Malaysian Immigration service, a letter of approval for the student pass is provided to the institution for onward passage to the student.
  • The student informs the educational institution of his/her travel plans – arrival date, time, flight/ship number.
  • Upon arrival, the institution’s representative meets and receives the student at the immigration and assist in processing the student through immigration.
  • Within 2 weeks, the educational institution submits the students passport to the Malaysian immigration to process and attach the student sticker on the passport.

Pre-arrival checks

 Pre-arrival checks include:

  • Confirm that you have notified your educational institution before your arrival date stating the date, time and flight/ship number.
  • Confirm your passport is valid (many colleges prefer up to 12 months) before embarking on your trip.
  • Ensure you have the original copy of your visa approval letter or valid entry visa with you before embarking on the trip.
  • Ensure you have a copy of the latest fee structure and are familiar with the monetary requirements apart from the tuition fees.
  • Ensure you have sufficient cash with you (about $USD200 - $USD500) for the first few weeks. It is advisable to bring other forms of money that can be drawn in Malaysian banks (money order, certified cheques, travelers cheques etc.) as you may not be able to have a bank account opened for you until your student sticker is affixed on your passport.
  • It is advisable to have a health history document with you providing information on your allergies and other relevant details important in informing medical personnel of your health condition should such information be required.
  • Ensure your clothing is suitable to a tropical climate such as Malaysia’s.
  • Ensure that your electrical appliances is compatible with the constant electrical supply of 240 volts 50-cycle system obtainable in Malaysia.


Arrival protocols

The following arrival protocols should be observed for a smooth immigration passage:

  • International students arriving at the Kuala Lumpur International airport (Terminal C) are required to board a shuttle bus/vehicle to the immigration terminal/baggage reclaim.
  • Upon arrival at the immigration checkpoint, international students are expected to look out for their college representative (don’t join the clearance queue or attempt immigration clearance on your own as you may not be cleared without your college/university representative.
  • After immigration clearance by the college/university representative, international students are transported to their residence.
  • International students are escorted to the school campus for the first few days to complete other registration processes.



Transportation in Malaysia is smooth. Malaysia has one of the most developed infrastructures in land, air and sea transportation. The country maintains a good network of roads and rail links.

International students are able to use the bus services (schedule must be determined), metered taxis (usually requires a call to the taxi company), car rentals or even own a car.

Where an international student owns a car, you must ensure your driving license is valid for use in Malaysia as Malaysia only recognizes driving licenses from selected countries.  Where your driving license is not recognized, international students will need to register in a driving training school (cost is about RM 1000 as at 2012) for testing and provision of Malaysian driving license.



Apart from the accommodation provided by the college/university, there are other accommodation options available for international students in Malaysia. Many international students prefer personal accommodations outside college/university administered accommodations to accommodate their lifestyle.

International students in Malaysia interested in outside accommodation should be willing to sign a contract with the house owners. House rent is usually collected on a two-plus-one basis (Initial rent include a two months’ rent as refundable deposit at end of tenure and a one month rent for the first month).Thereafter rent is expected to be paid monthly in addition to utility payments.

Accommodation possibilities include:

1.      Furnished apartments in condominiums (high rise accommodations)

2.      Unfurnished apartments in condominiums

3.      Private rentable houses



The culture in Malaysia is more or less reserved and more individualistic than communal.  International students coming from communal cultural backgrounds will need to be aware. International students in Malaysia must ensure that the religious rights and symbols of others are not violated as this is a punishable offence in Malaysia.



Although it is legally possible to work part-time in Malaysia, it is extremely difficult for international students in Malaysia to gain part-time work. This is because of the governments drive to engage increasingly unemployed Malaysians. International students are advised not to plan with possibilities of working in Malaysia to augment their income.


Change of college

International students in Malaysia are able to transfer to a new college if they do not like to continue studying in their original college. This is not usually easy to accomplish practically.

This is because immigration procedures require your existing college to cancel your study visa before the new college is able to apply for a new study visa for you. This can present challenges if your existing college refuses or delays such cancellation.

International students inside Malaysia must be prepared to exit Malaysia if required for the duration of the college transfer process.

Do's and Don'ts

The following are legally binding on all international students:

  • International students must abide by Malaysian statutes and laws.
  • International students should not be involved in jobs or trades which are deemed illegal.
  • An international student is guilty of misconduct if found guilty of criminal charges by the court.
  • International students wishing to study in Malaysia must obtain a student pass.
  • International students in Malaysia wishing to work must obtain permission from the Malaysian Immigration department through his/her educational institution. This is provided at the Immigration Department's discretion based on the students’ academic performance and school attendance.
  • International students are permitted to work part time for 20 hours per week during semester breaks or during holidays more than 7 days.
  • International students in Malaysia are not permitted to work as cashiers.
  • International students are not allowed to be in possession, provide, supply, distribute, offer, prepare or be involved in any way with drugs and poisons. You can review our information on Malaysia Dangerous Drug Act 1952.
  • International students in Malaysia are not allowed to be in possession of any kind of weapons. You can review our information on Malaysia Weapons Act 1958.
  • International students in Malaysia are allowed to own vehicles subject to the Malaysia Road Transport Act 1987. You can review our information on Malaysia Road Transport Act 1987.
  • International students are guilty of an offence if found engaging in activities involving the use of force, extortion, harassment, bullying, physical aggression, fights, and exhibition of verbal or physical behaviors deemed to be racist or prejudiced.
  • International students are expected to refrain from plagiarism and all kinds of falsification of assignments and coursework.

Find out details at MOHE website.


Malaysia provides abundant opportunities for international students to enjoy nightlife. International students need to remember to be with and provide a source of identification (passport, college identification card etc.) if requested by law enforcement during routine stop and checks at night. Night clubs are abundant in major cities in the country such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang etc.

Cost of living

Cost of living in Malaysia is relatively lower than getting the same education in developed countries. On the average, an estimate of RM 15, 000 to RM 21,000 (USD 5000 to USD 7000) per year will be sufficient for an international student. Lifestyles differ and so will the required cost of living. Accommodation cost between R300 – RM 600 for a room in a shared apartment.


Scholarships/ financial assistance:  There are various government, international and college scholarships that are available to international students. You can review our information on Scholarships to determine the available scholarships now.

Take me back to the top of the page

Return to Legal self help information

Return from International students in Malaysia to Student services Home Page

New! Comments

Have a great idea or comments? Have your say about what you just read on this page! Leave me a comment in the box below.If you like what you read, please provide us feedback before you leave by clicking on the "Like" button on top or below the Navigation bar on the left.Thank you.