Malaysia’s Top 10 Foundation Programmes to Study after SPM or IGCSE/O-Levels

First, EduSpiral took me around to a few universities and advised me on which course that would suit me. Finally, after deciding, EduSpiral met up with me and my Dad to help me to register. Jia Jin, Foundation in Design at Taylor's University

Study a Top Foundation Course after SPM or IGCSE at Malaysia’s Best Private Universities

If you have just completed your SPM or IGCSE/O-Level exam and plan to study a bachelor’s degree at a private university in Malaysia, the Foundation programme is the next step for you. All students after SPM or IGCSE/O-Levels must enter a Pre-University Programme before continuing with their degree at private universities in Malaysia . The Foundation programme is a Pre-University Programme designed by a particular private university intending to equip their students to familiarise and handle the degree programme offered. Students will seamlessly move on to the degree course upon completion. There are many types of Foundation Programmes offered by private universities in Malaysia. We will discuss about ten of the most popular Foundation programmes in this article.

Therefore, students who have just completed their secondary school education should choose the foundation programme in Malaysia that best fits their career goals and needs. Choosing the right Foundation programme  can be challenging. Many students are left with the difficult task of making that choice without being sufficiently equipped with the necessary details to make an informed choice. Additionally, students should ask a counselor who is knowledgeable and experienced to provide the right information to help them make the right choice.

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Top 10 Most Popular Foundation Programmes in Malaysia

First, EduSpiral took me around to a few universities and advised me on which course that would suit me. Finally, after deciding, EduSpiral met up with me and my Dad to help me to register. Jia Jin, Foundation in Design at Taylor's University
First, EduSpiral took me around to a few universities and advised me on which course that would suit me. Finally, after deciding, EduSpiral met up with me and my Dad to help me to register.
Jia Jin, Foundation in Design at Taylor’s University

Foundation courses can be seen as preparatory courses that assist students to transition from SPM or IGCSE/O-Levels in Malaysia to specific bachelor’s degree programmes.

In addition, the Foundation Programme in Malaysia is a pre-university program designed to help students meet the entry requirements for first-year university and prepare them to handle the rigours of undergraduate studies. Students gain a solid grounding in academic and communication skills, with a focus on developing their Critical Thinking and English language skills.

Unlike the external pre-university programmes in Malaysia which focus on more general Science and Art-based subjects, the Foundation programmes for private universities provide specialisation in specific areas of study such as business, computer & IT, or engineering, and hence, cater to the specific needs of different students.

Top private universities in Malaysia, have designed and developed their own internal university foundation programmes to help students familiarise and gain the necessary fundamentals to be able to handle the degree programme offered.

The curriculum and examination of the Foundation programmes are set by the local private universities, following the quality criteria set by the Ministry of Higher Education and quality assurance agency, Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA). Many students after SPM or IGCSE/O-Levels have chosen to go for the Foundation programmes at top private universities in Malaysia before pursuing their undergraduate degree studies.

List of the Popular Foundation Programmes in Malaysia
I wasn't sure of which course to study & Lonnie , from EduSpiral, guided me to choose the right course based on Job Demand & Salary. Hong Ming, Foundation in Computing & Technology at KDU University College
I wasn’t sure of which course to study & Lonnie , from EduSpiral, guided me to choose the right course based on Job Demand & Salary. Hong Ming, Foundation in Arts & Technology at UOWM KDU University College

There are many types of Foundation programmes in Malaysia, some are general like the Foundation in Arts or Foundation in Science, while other are more specific to the intended course of study like the Foundation in Engineering or Foundation in Computing & Technology.  Students who know what they want to study can just go for the specific Foundation at the university offering the degree of interest. You can go for the Foundation in Design, Foundation in Communication, Foundation in Technology, etc.

However, there are also general Foundation programmes such as Foundation in Arts and Foundation in Science offered by the private universities. Foundation in Science programmes can lead to engineering, pharmacy, medicine, applied sciences, health sciences and other arts related degree programmes. The Foundation in Arts programme can lead to accounting, business, computing, architecture, design, and other arts related courses. After completing the Foundation in Science students have the choice to choose sciences or arts related degree programmes.

For students who have yet to decide on what to study for their degree, or would like to keep their choices open, should go for the Foundation in Arts or Foundation in Science.

Through these foundation courses, students will be able to gain an understanding of the core skills in a main field of choice through exposure to a range of subjects, even if they are unclear about which degree programme they want to undertake in university.

Below is a list of the most popular Foundation Programmes in Malaysia:

  1. Foundation in Science
  2. Foundation in Arts
  3. Foundation in Business & Management
  4. Foundation in Computing & Technology
  5. Foundation in Information Technology
  6. Foundation in Engineering
  7. Foundation in Communication & Media Studies
  8. Foundation in Natural & Built Environment or Architecture
  9. Foundation in Design
  10. Foundation in Life Sciences

Top Ten Reasons to Study the Foundation Programme at the Best Private Universities in Malaysia

My mum contacted EduSpiral and he gave me in-depth information on the courses & universities. He arranged for us to tour the universities to help me make the right choice.
Bryan Yap, Foundation in Business (Actuarial Science) at Heriot-Watt University Malaysia
  1. Foundation Programmes are cheaper than the External Pre-University Programmes such as A-Levels, AUSMAT, CPU, IB, etc.
  2. They are generally, easier than the External Pre-University Programmes such as A-Levels, STPM or AUSMAT
  3. Some are recognised for entry into overseas universities
  4. Accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency
  5. You study subjects that you like, which is Arts-related
  6. Your coursework and exams are marked by Malaysians who understand what you write or express
  7. You will be exposed to different types of arts-related subjects which would help you to decide which major to choose in the degree.
  8. Faster to enter the degree programme compared to taking the STPM or A-Levels
  9. If you do not plan to go overseas, there is no reason to take an external Pre-University programme which is tougher and more expensive.
  10. When you score well in the Foundation in Arts, you can apply for scholarships for the degree programme at the same university.

Study at the Best Universities & Colleges in Malaysia for your Foundation Course after SPM or IGCSE/O-Levels

was confused about what to study & didn't want to do what my dad was working as because he was so busy. My mum asked EduSpiral to advise me. He showed my that I am different from my dad & helped me to make the right choice. Chong Han, Foundation in Engineering at Taylor's University
was confused about what to study & didn’t want to do what my dad was working as because he was so busy. My mum asked EduSpiral to advise me. He showed my that I am different from my dad & helped me to make the right choice.
Chong Han, Foundation in Engineering at Taylor’s University

Top private universities in Malaysia, have tailored their own internal university foundation programmes to the degree courses offered.

The title of the Foundation Programme might be the same at a few universities but the content focus and subjects are different.

The curriculum and examination of the Foundation programmes are set by the local private colleges & universities, following the quality criteria set by the Ministry of Higher Education and quality assurance agency, Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).

IS THE FOUNDATION PROGRAMME RECOGNISED?

Mostly in Malaysia and some overseas. As long as the Foundation course is accredited by the Malaysia Qualifications Agency (MQA), it will be accepted by another private university for entry into the relevant degree programme.

What is the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA)?

The Malaysia Qualifications Agency (MQA) is an official body that is governed by the Ministry of Higher Education and is the only body that controls universities’ accreditation status, regulate curriculum and set operational standards for both public and private universities and other higher learning institutions in Malaysia. MQA also accredit individual courses and programmes at each university. MQA’s operation is important because it works to ensure that higher learning in the country is up to global standards and is fit for the future of the nation.

Accreditation of Courses in Malaysian Private Universities
We didn't know that First City University College had won many awards for Interior Design until EduSpiral showed us the awards. The "famous" college that we had planned to join hadn't even won any awards in interior design. Zhi Yih & Chin Xien, Foundation in Design at First City University College
We didn’t know that First City University College had won many awards for Interior Design until EduSpiral showed us the awards. The “famous” college that we had planned to join hadn’t even won any awards in interior design.
Zhi Yih & Chin Xien, Foundation in Design at First City University College

Accreditation is a formal recognition that a certificate, diploma or degree programme has attained the quality standards and criteria set by MQA and is in compliance with the MQF.

Institutions whose programmes have been accredited can use MQA recognition in their advertisements or any other statement. These programmes can be considered for recognition by the government for the purpose of employment in the public sector. Accreditation is a status or achievement as a result of quality assessment by MQA.

It is a commitment by MQA to all stakeholders in higher education i.e students, parents, employers that the programme accredited by MQA is quality-assured. It is also a basis for other parties to recognise the programme for a variety of reasons. For example, the Public Service Department (PSD) will use this accreditation status to recognise the qualification for employment in the public service.

HOW LONG IS THE DURATION FOR THE FOUNDATION PROGRAMME?

3 semesters  (1 year of full-time study). Some universities offer a 2-semester Foundation which is still 1 year in duration.

How are the Foundation Programmes Assessed at Private Universities in Malaysia?

Assessment for Foundation programmes in Malaysia will vary from university to university. It will contain a mix of coursework, assignments, quizzes and exams.

The coursework could cover different assessment tasks such as projects, assignments, laboratory work, presentations, tests, and others as assigned throughout each semester. The final examination is conducted at the end of each semester. The assessments are subject to quality assurance procedures to maintain high standards and ensuring fair assessment.

HOW MANY SUBJECTS ARE THERE IN A FOUNDATION PROGRAMME?

The number of subjects vary from 8 to 12 subjects depending on which university. Students will take about 10-12 subjects in 3 semesters (1 year) for the Foundation programme at private universities in Malaysia.

What will I Study in a Foundation Programme in Malaysia?

Foundation in Business into Finance at Taylor's University
My dream was to study at Taylor’s University and with the Taylor’s Excellence Award that EduSpiral shared with me, I am able to achieve it.
Chun Tim, Foundation in Business into Finance at Taylor’s University

A Foundation course in Malaysia focuses on the topics related to the field and by concentrating on specific subjects related to the degree programmes it will lead to at the university. There will be core subjects like Mathematics, English and Computing.

You will then have options to choose electives that would be related to your degree programme of interest.

For example, if the university offers business, communication and computing degree programmes, they may offer a Foundation in Arts & Technology and offer subjects such as business, accounting, marketing, communications, computing, etc.

MPU SUBJECTS / GENERAL STUDIES (COMPULSORY UNITS)
  • Through the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA), the Ministry of Education (MOE), Higher Education Sector has imposed the following requirements on programmes offered by all private tertiary education providers:
  • MPU (i.e. General Studies) will replace MPW from September 2013 onwards (Ministry of Education directive of 18th June 2013).
  • The Ministry of Education requires that all NEW Degree (International and Malaysian) students enrolled in September 2013 and onwards must take the MPU units as a prerequisite for the award of their degree.
  • Malaysian Degree students must take the units and pass them as a prerequisite for the award of the degree.
  • Students are required to take other MPU units which will be rolled out during the course of their study.
HOW MUCH DOES A FOUNDATION  PROGRAMME COST?

Students after SPM or IGCSE/O-Levels would need to figure out their budget as it would determine which Pre-University course would be suitable for you. Students with moderate budgets can consider the Foundation programme as it is cheaper than the external Pre-University programmes.

The cost will vary from university to university. It will range from RM8,000 to RM30,000. Generally cheaper than overseas Pre-University courses and A-Levels

What are the Requirements to Enter the Degree Course?

To enter into the degree programmes, you will need at least a CGPA of 2.00 or 2.50 depending on the university and the course.

Can I transfer to Another Private University?

Yes, you can transfer to another private university on a case-to-case basis. Students may transfer to another private university upon completion of the Foundation in Arts programme by providing the university of interest your high school certificate, transcripts, course outline & syllabus and Foundation certificate in order for them to evaluate for entry into their degree programme.

Can I transfer to Another University overseas like the UK or Australia?
was confused about what to study & didn't want to do what my dad was working as because he was so busy. My mum asked EduSpiral to advise me. He showed my that I am different from my dad & helped me to make the right choice. Chong Han, Foundation in Engineering at Taylor's University
I was confused about what to study & didn’t want to do what my dad was working as because he was so busy. My mum asked EduSpiral to advise me. He showed my that I am different from my dad & helped me to make the right choice.
Chong Han, Foundation in Engineering at Taylor’s University

Generally, the Foundation Programmes are for students to continue on to degree programmes at the particular private university. Some Foundation programmes are accepted for entry into overseas universities in the UK or Australia. It depends on the partnership agreement with the private university in Malaysia.

However, you could transfer overseas after completing Year 1 of your degree. Meaning that, you complete the Foundation and then enter into Year 1 of the degree programme at the private university in Malaysia and then transfer overseas for the final part of your degree programme. Many top private universities will have a list of partner universities overseas that you can transfer to.

Choosing a top private university in Malaysia to study after SPM or O-Levels for your Pre-University or Foundation course takes time, it is a process in finding out which one best fits you. You need to talk to the right counselors who are knowledgeable and experienced. Students should choose top universities in Malaysia that has an English-speaking environment so that it will help you to improve your language skills. Good English is important to obtain higher salaries and faster promotions in Malaysia. English-speaking environments promote critical thinking, problem-solving and leadership skills which enhance your career prospects.

Foundation or External Pre-University or STPM in Malaysia

Our mum asked us to talk to EduSpiral as we did not know what to study. EduSpiral had helped our older sister before. He met us at Taylor’s, talked to us and then gave us a tour.
Gan twins, Foundation in Arts at Taylor’s University

Students after SPM or O-Levels can consider taking the Foundation Programmes at top private colleges & universities in Malaysia. The Foundation Programmes are 1 year and is cheaper compared to the external Pre-University Programmes. Foundation programmes are generally easier than external Pre-University courses. If you do not plan on going overseas for your degree programme, then it is better to go for the Foundation programme at a top private university in Malaysia.

Choosing the right Pre-University course that fits you would mean that you have to ask yourself which methods of assessment best suit you? Exams, coursework, practicals, group projects and presentations could all be in the mix in differing quantities.

Every Pre-University course in Malaysia will include a percentage of the breakdown of assessment for the subjects. You need to understand yourself and capabilities in order to decide which Pre-University course would best suit you. Students who are not sure of what to study after SPM can contact EduSpiral Consultant Services to help guide you to choose the right course and university.

After SPM, one of the choices that students have is to take Form 6 and eventually the STPM examination. Most students choose the STPM because of financial difficulties which is a valid reason. However, if your parents can afford or if they can sacrifice, it is better to go for the Foundation programme at private universities in Malaysia. In the article below, we will discuss in detail the advantages and disadvantages of taking the STPM and why you should take the Foundation programme.

If you are still not sure of what to study for your degree, the Foundation programme is a good choice and is shorter in duration than the STPM or A-Levels and less difficult.

What are the Entry Requirements into Foundation Programmes in Malaysia?

EduSpiral advised me on WhatsApp & provided all the information on Taylor’s University. He also helped to arrange a campus tour. Finally, he helped me to register as well as apply for the scholarship.
Hazel Hoh, Foundation in Arts (Communication)

General Entry Requirements are 5 SPM Credits with Passes in BM & Sejarah or IGCSE/O-Levels minimum 5Cs. Note that the entry requirements will vary from university to university. Furthermore, the entry requirements will vary from the type of degree course you plan on studying.

You will need to check with the university of interest to find out exactly what their entry requirements are. Or you may contact EduSpiral Consultant Services for advise on your entry to top private universities in Malaysia.

  • Foundation in Arts entering into the following degree programmes:
    • Business Administration, Management, Logistics & Marketing – 5 Credits
    • Accounting, Finance, Banking, Investment & Actuarial Science – 5 Credits including Maths and a Pass in English
    • Arts, Design, Advertising, Hospitality, Hotel Management & Communication  – 5 Credits
    • Psychology – 5 Credits including Maths, one Science subject and a Pass in English
    • Architecture and Information Technology (IT) – 5 Credits including Maths
    • Computer Science – 5 Credits including Additional Maths
    • English Language, TESL & Mass Communication – 5 Credits including English
  • Foundation in Science entering into:
    • Engineering – 5 Credits including Maths and 1 Science (Physics/ Chemistry/ Biology)
    • Architecture and IT – 5 Credits including Maths
    • Computer Science – 5 Credits including Add Maths
  • Foundation in Science entering into the following degree programmes
    • Biotechnology, Culinology, Food Science, Nutrition, Physiotherapy, Biotechnology, Biomedical Science, Medical Imaging & Optometry – 5 credits including Mathematics and 2 science subjects
    • Pharmacy – 5Bs including Biology and Chemistry and Physic and Math (or Additional Math)
    • Medicine & Dentistry – 5Bs including Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics/Additional Mathematics and 1 other subject
    • Architecture and IT – 5 Credits including Maths
  • Foundation in Computing & Technology into the following degree programmes
    • Computing, Information Technology, Software Engineering, Game Development, Intelligent Systems, Cyber Security & Networking,  – 5 credits including Mathematics
  • Foundation in Business into the following degree programmes
    • Business Administration, Management, Human Resource Management, International Business, Logistics & Marketing – 5 Credits
    • Accounting, Finance, Banking, Investment & Actuarial Science – 5 Credits including Maths and a Pass in English
  • Foundation in Engineering entering into:
    • Mechanical, Civil, Electrical & Electronic, Telecommunication & Mechatronic – 5 Credits including Maths and 1 Science (Physics/ Chemistry/ Biology)
  • Foundation in Architecture or Natural & Built Environment entering into:
    • Architecture – 5 Credits including Maths
    • Interior Architecture or Interior Design – 5 Credits
  • Foundation in Design to enter into:
    • Graphic Design, Interior Design, Product Design, Multimedia, Animation – 5 Credits
    • Some universities may require a portfolio of your artwork or a credit in Art
  • Foundation in Communication to enter into:
    • Mass Communication, Media Studies, Public Relations, Journalism, Branding & Advertising – 5 Credits
English Language Requirement For Foundation Programmes in Malaysia

In addition to the academic requirements, students are also required to meet the English Language requirements. An applicant who does not meet the Universities’ English Language Requirements may need to take an extra English course at the university or an external English examination such as the IELTS.

Summary of the Foundation Programme
Duration 12 months
Number of subjects 12-15. Varies depending on the programme and university (usually combination of compulsory, elective & MPU subjects)
Recognition & Accreditation Malaysia Qualification Agency (MQA)
Assessment Assessment for Foundation programmes in Malaysia will vary from university to university. It will contain a mix of coursework, assignments, quizzes and exams. The coursework could cover different assessment tasks such as projects, assignments, laboratory work, presentations, tests, and others as assigned throughout each semester. The final examination is conducted at the end of each semester. 
Price RM8,000 – RM25,000
Advantages
  • Tailored specifically towards the degree course offered by the university
  • Shorter duration compared to the STPM and A-Level programmes
  • Generally, cheaper than most Pre-University (Pre-U) programmes
  • Most students find it easier compared to other Pre-University programmes
  • English-speaking environment which would help you to improve your language skills (depends on which university you choose)
  • The course is taught and marked by Malaysians who would understand the language skills of Malaysian students. Therefore, students who are weak in the English language should choose the Foundation and take the opportunity to improve their language skills during the Foundation programme.
Disadvantages
  • Depending on which Foundation, it may be difficult to change courses if you decide to pursue a different field
  • May not be accepted by other private universities for your undergraduate degree
  • May not be accepted into universities overseas

Top Criteria to Consider When Choosing the Best Private University in Malaysia for a Foundation Programme that Fits You

EduSpiral counseled us online & then picked us up from the airport to visit MMU in order to help us choose the right university. Mak, Ong & Chaw - Diploma in Information Technology (IT) at Multimedia University (MMU)
EduSpiral counseled us online & then picked us up from the airport to visit MMU in order to help us choose the right university.
Mak, Ong & Chaw – Diploma in Information Technology (IT) at Multimedia University (MMU)
  • Is the Foundation course popular at that university? Quality/reputation/ranking of the private university in Malaysia
  • Are the courses recognised and approved by the Ministry of Education Malaysia?
  • Are the courses accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Audit (MQA)?
  • Subjects offered in the Foundation (Are they relevant, up-to-date, and help you to achieve your career goals)
  • Do they have enough students to start a class?
  •  How many students do they have studying that course at that university?
  •  What is the duration of the course?
  •  Quality of lecturers. What are their qualifications? How many years of experience in teaching?
  • Faculty contact/classes taught by full-time qualified & experienced faculty
  •  Ask your friends who have studied there for their opinion. Ask your friends who are currently studying there as well.
  • Entry requirements (Foreign branch campuses in Malaysia have higher entry requirements)
  • How much money do I have to pay for the course and cost of living? Ask your parents. Note that you will need to have enough to pay the tuition fees as well as your cost of living. (tuition, hostel, food, transportation, etc.)
  • What are the Financial assistance available at the university? (Scholarships, PTPN Loan, EPF withdrawal, MARA Loan, etc)
  • Is the PTPTN loan available for the course at the university?
  • How much are the tuition fees? Does it include the exam and other fees?
  • How much is on-campus accommodation?
  • How much is off-campus accommodation? Note that it might be cheaper to find off campus accommodation on your own with friends. Is the accommodations near eateries, banks, entertainment, public transportation, etc.?
  • What is the student culture at the university? (English-speaking environment, ambitious, serious about studies, lifestyle or party university, etc) The language spoken mostly at the college by the students may also matter if you don’t know Mandarin or BM or English. If most of the students speak Mandarin at that university then it will not help you to improve your English. Having a good command of the English language helps you to get good jobs and promotions.
  • What is the make up of the student body (diversity, international students, gender, etc.)
  • What are the Extra-curricular activities available? (Student organisations, clubs, sports, etc.)
  • Public vs. Private (STPM is tougher and choice of course & university is determined by the government)

Common Factors in Choosing the Best Private University in Malaysia for the Foundation Programme

Mr. Lonnie from EduSpiral, guided us in our confusion of which course to take that has a high job demand & salary and after the counseling, we decided on Fintech. Bryan & Wen Kai, Fintech at Asia Pacific University (APU)
Mr. Lonnie from EduSpiral, guided us in our confusion of which course to take that has a high job demand & salary and after the counseling, we decided on Fintech.
Bryan & Wen Kai, Fintech at Asia Pacific University (APU)

Here’s a list of common criteria in choosing a top private university in Malaysia for the Foundation course:

  • What type of university do I like? (Large, medium, small, city, suburbs, or outer city) Some people like small universities where you get a community feel while others like large university campuses where they get to meet lots of people.
  • The size of the university also matters to some people as some prefer a small and friendly university environment where you know everyone’s names. Some may prefer a medium sized university where there are more students to interact with and more facilities to use like a bigger library, student centre, computer labs etc.
  • In large universities you might feel lost but there will be more facilities like a football field, gym, swimming pool, basketball courts, etc. You just need to understand your personality and then choose the type of university that fits you.
  • If you are a sports person, you might want to find one with a football field, basketball courts, gym or swimming pool.
  • Safety at the university campus and community.
  • Know yourself, if you like city life, don’t choose a university far away from the city even though the facilities are great. However, if you have a discipline problem in having too much fun, studying away from the city may be a good choice
  • What are the facilities and resources offered at the university? – engineering labs, computer labs, computers, science labs, sports facilities, student centre, job placement centre, etc. Note – You should expect to get what you pay for.
  • If you like sports, you may not want to choose a university without a basketball court or gym.
  • Is it near public transportation? This is important if you do not have transportation.

 

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