Malaysia Education and Training

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-01-15

Capital:  Kuala Lumpur
Population:  32,652,083 (July 2020 est.)

GDP:  $933.3 billion (2017 est., Purchasing Power Parity)
Currency:  Ringgits (MYR)
Language:  Bahasa Malaysia (official), English, Chinese (Cantonese, Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka, Hainan, Foochow), Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Panjabi, Thai

UNESCO Student Mobility Number
Malaysia has 61,904 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook
43.43% of the Malaysian population is under 24 years old. 


Malaysia is ranked 24th as a sending market in terms of the total number of students going to the U.S. for higher education.  Students from Malaysia contributed US $282 million to the U.S economy during the academic year of 2019/2020.  According to the IIE Open Doors 2020 Fact Sheet for the 2019/2020 school year, there was a decrease of 10.4 percent in the number of students coming to the U.S. from Malaysia. 

The number of scholarships for U.S. study offered by Malaysian companies and government agencies has recently declined, but major companies such as Khazanah Nasional, Petronas, and Bank Negara continue to fund U.S. educational opportunities.  Many of these scholarships are, however, reserved for Bumiputra students (Malay Muslim ethnic group).  Thus, students from Chinese, Indian, and other ethnic groups must find other routes for financing their studies abroad.  The Public Service Department (PSD) in Malaysia offers full scholarships to its National Scholars for undergraduate studies at top-ranked universities around the world, including those in the United States.

The primary sources of funding for Malaysian students are personal and family.  Malaysian students are generally known to be good and serious students.  The secondary source of funding for Malaysian students is Malaysian government and corporate scholarships.  Successful Malaysian government scholarship applicants must be accepted into a Times Higher Education (T.H.E.) World University Ranking Top 100 school to have access to the funds.  T.H.E. is part of the Thomson Reuters Group.  Due to continued U.S. government commercial diplomacy efforts, the Malaysian government is willing to explore other alternatives to the Top 100 T.H.E. ranking education institutions.

The top international education destinations for Malaysian students other than the U.S. are the United Kingdom, Australia, Egypt, and Russia, with the majority going to the United Kingdom and Australia.


International Education Overview




Number of Malaysian Students in U.S.




Percentage of Change from Previous Year (%)




Ranking in Places of Origin for Students going to the U.S.




International Education Overview








Percentage of Change from Previous Year (%)








Percentage of Change from Previous Year (%)




OPT (Optional Practical Training)




Percentage of Change from Previous Year (%)




Higher Education:  The four top fields of study for Malaysian students in the U.S. are:

  • Engineering – 25.8 percent
  • Business/Management – 16.8 percent
  • Math/Computer Sciences – 12.7 percent
  • Physical/Life Sciences – 12.3 percent

Although four-year university undergraduate study is still the main growth opportunity, increasingly, we are seeing more Malaysian students interested in associate, graduate, and post-graduate degrees.  Optional Practical Training involving internships either pre- or post-completion of degree is gaining market traction as well.

Online Programs:  The implementation of the Movement Control Order on March 18, 2020 to curb the spread of Covid-19 led more students to embrace online teaching and facilitation via applications such as Zoom, Skype, MS Team, Google Hangout, Google Meet, and WhatsApp.  Due to the pandemic, students have unwittingly accelerated the acceptance of distance education.  Prior to this pandemic, the general feeling was that virtual learning would take much longer to gain traction. 

To sustain online learning efforts, platforms are being established that support and encourage educators to publish their own online materials.  Besides producing teaching videos from Education TV and EduWeb TV, the Ministry of Education launched a digital learning platform know as Digital Educational Learning Initiative Malaysia to replace the Frog Virtual Learning Environment platform.  The strategic partners for this initiative are Apple, Microsoft, and Google.               

Professional Training Services:  Under the Economic Transformation Program (ETP), Malaysia will require a two- to five-fold increase in technical and vocational education and training (TVET) enrollment by 2025.  However, at present there is an undersupply of TVET workers in 10 of the 12 National Key Economic Area (NKEA) sectors (Oil, Gas, and Energy; Palm Oil; Financial Services; Tourism; Business Services; Electronics and Electrical; Wholesale and Retail; Education; Healthcare; Communications Content and Infrastructure; Agriculture; and Greater Kuala Lumpur).  To remedy this shortage, the Ministry plans to intensify industry involvement and partnerships, streamline qualifications, and improve coordination within the Ministry to enhance the TVET branding efforts.  Some of the key initiatives include:

  • Enabling industry to lead curriculum design and delivery through new partnership models to increase apprenticeship, hands-on training, real-life simulations, and specialized employer training programs.
  • Enhancing coordination across the Ministries to eliminate duplication of resources.


Malaysia aspires to be a regional and international education hub.  The Malaysian government is strongly encouraging international education partnerships and collaboration and is also pushing the Malaysian public and private higher education institutions to become more research oriented.  Twinning between Malaysian and foreign institutions [2+2 (i.e. two years in Malaysia followed by two years study in the U.S.), 3+1, and 4+0] and foreign education institution branch campuses are various forms of collaboration opportunities.


Digital marketing in Malaysia is rapidly growing and becoming a competitive industry, especially with the current global pandemic and the increase of smartphone penetration in the country.  As of January 2020, there were 26 million social media users and 40.7 million mobile connections in Malaysia.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more than 240,000 schools in Malaysia are closed, affecting most students.  Google is widely used to search for information.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp are the most popular social media sites in Malaysia.

The Ministry of Education has also launched an e-learning platform “Classruum” that provides online lessons, including video tutorials, notes, trial examinations, and gamification.  Subjects that students will need to know in order to sit for their major exams are taught on the platform.  All lessons are in compliance with the Education Ministry’s syllabus and are taught by a selected group of Malaysian teachers and tutors.  The pre-school education mobile application, “Classruum Playlabs” is designed for small children from four to six years old to educate them about colors, numbers, and the alphabet.  Another new platform, “Brain Box”, which focuses on skills, such as cooking, gardening, sewing, carpentry, and foreign language, is also being looked into.

Jobstreet and Indeed are the most widely used search engines to look for job opportunities.  YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook are widely used for streaming.


The Star Education Fair

Bett Asia 2021

Education Further Studies Fair



Janet Suan, Commercial Assistant

U.S. Commercial Service – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


Phone:  +60-12-395-3907


 [GZ1]I&A site