Malaysia - Commercial Guide
Education and Training

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

Last published date: 2020-03-10

Capital:  Kuala Lumpur
Population: 32,652,083 (July 2020 est.)
GDP: 933.3 Billion USD (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 63,253 students studying abroad according to UNESCO.

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


Malaysia is ranked 24th for the total amount of students traveling to the U.S. for higher education with a contribution of US$336 million to the U.S. economy during the academic year of 2018/19.  According to the Open Doors Fact Sheet for the 2018/2019 academic school year, there was a decrease of 6.8% from 8,271 in 2017/2018 to 7,709 for 2018/2019 of Malaysian students studying in the U.S.  

The number of scholarships for studying in the U.S. 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 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 source 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 private corporation scholarships.  There are access criteria to the secondary funding.  Successful Malaysian government scholarship applicants must be accepted into TIMEs Higher Education (T.H.E.) World University Ranking Top 100 schools to access to these funds.  T.H.E. is part of the Thomson Reuters Group.  Due to continued USG commercial diplomacy efforts, the Malaysian government is willing to explore other alternatives in addition to the Top 100 T.H.E. ranking education institutions.

Top international education destinations for Malaysian students other than the U.S. are Australia, The United Kingdom, Egypt, Jordan, Indonesia, China, Taiwan, Russia, New Zealand, India, Netherlands and Japan, with the majority going to Australia and the United Kingdom.


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.




Typically, the five main fields of study for Malaysian students to the U.S. are:

•    Social Sciences/Business & Law
•    Engineering Manufacturing and Construction
•    Sciences, Mathematics & Computer
•    Arts & Humanities
•    Education

Although the 4-year university undergraduate is still the main growth opportunity, there are more associate, graduate as well as post-graduate degrees gaining interest from Malaysian students.  Additionally, Optional Practical Training involving internships either pre or post-completion of degree is gaining market traction as well.


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 form of collaboration opportunities.


Star Education Fair – January 4-5, 2020 – Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, Kuala Lumpur
26th Post Graduate Education Fair 2020 – April 4 & 5, 2020 – Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, 
Kuala Lumpur
Facon Education Fair – March 17-18, 2020 – Putra World Trade Centre, Kuala Lumpur
Bett Asia – March 4-5, 2020 – Grant Hyatt, Kuala Lumpur
International Student Fairs – December 2020, Kuala Lumpur Convention Center, Kuala Lumpur


Department of Statistics Malaysia: 
Ministry of Education Malaysia: 
Education USA: 

Janet Suan, Commercial Assistant
U.S. Commercial Service – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia