Useful Tips in Helping Malaysian Students after High School or Pre-University to Choose the Right Private University
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Choosing a top private university in Malaysia to study after SPM or O-Levels takes time, it is a process in finding out which one best fits you. I have prepare a top 10 list of common criteria in choosing a top private university in Malaysia to help students in making this very important decision. These top tips have come from my years of experience in counselling students and helping them to join the right university.
Choosing a university is important as it will help to shape your mind, character and help you to develop the necessary skills for a successful career. Therefore, not all private universities are the same. You should not choose a university because it is the cheapest, easiest and nearest. It should be based on which university that can best develop your potential.
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A Guide to Choose the Best Private University in Malaysia to Study
If you’re among the lucky who can factor more than cost and proximity into where you decide to go, studying in a private university in Malaysia is a ticket to an adventure beyond the boundaries of what you’ve experienced so far. It’s a passport to the far side of what you already know. It’s a chance to be challenged, not coddled. To be provoked, not pacified.
Does brand matter? To a point. There are indeed future employers in Malaysia who see certain degrees as seals of approval, as pre-screening of a sort. However, obtaining a degree from a famous private university will only take you so far.
Some private universities have spent millions of Ringgit throughout the years telling you that they are the best. You should objectively look at the information carefully to assess which university in Malaysia is best for you. If you do not have the necessary knowledge and skills, you won’t get far in your career.
We must be careful when choosing a private university in Malaysia as many students listen to advise from friends and relatives who are not knowledgeable offering information not supported by facts and evidence. Choosing a private university should be done carefully and objectively, not based on the number of glitzy advertisements you have heard or seen about that university.
Talking to counsellors from the private universities is a common practice to obtain the necessary information to help you to decide. You should evaluate the information provided to see if what they say is true and supported by facts and evidence.
There are also many agents in Malaysia offering their services where most of the staff are young and inexperienced. They would not have the skills to guide you on this most important decision in your life.
How many of a college’s or university’s students are coming from other countries? Favour private universities with higher percentages of foreigners, because as much of your education will happen outside as inside any lecture theatre, and globalisation is here and real. The dexterity with which you can navigate other cultures — your awareness of, and openness to, them — could be more valuable than any knowledge gleaned from a book.
Choosing a university is important as it will help to shape your mind, character and help you to develop the necessary skills for a successful career. Therefore, not all private universities are the same. You should not choose a university because it is the cheapest, easiest and nearest. It should be based on which university that best fits your needs.
Many students in Malaysia also make the common mistake in choosing a university because their friends are going there. I even had one student tell me that his choice of university depends on where his girlfriend is going! This is one of the most important decisions that may change your life forever hence it should not be taken lightly.
Top 10 Tips on How to Choose the Best University to Study in Malaysia
1. Start with the Course
- What are the courses offered at the university? Diploma, Foundation, Degree, etc
- Is the course popular at that college or university?
- Have the students or lecturers from the particular course won any awards?
- Check the Entry requirements (Branch campuses in Malaysia have higher entry requirements)
- Are the courses recognised and approved by the Ministry of Education Malaysia and the relevant external bodies?
- Are the courses accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Audit (MQA)?
- Are the degree programmes recognised or accredited by the relevant professional bodies such as the Malaysian Medical Council, Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM), Lembaga Arkitek Malaysia (LAM), Malaysian Pharmacy Board, Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA), etc.
- Type of programme (local degree, UK Dual Award degree, 3+0 UK or Australian degree, 4+0 American degree, degree transfer programme, etc)
- Do the degree programmes have exemptions from professional bodies such as Society of Actuaries (SOA), IFoA, ACCA, ICAEW, CIMA, Chartered Institute of Banking, CFA, etc.
2. The University
- What is the reputation? Does the university have a good reputation?
- What is the ranking of the university in Malaysia or globally?
- Has the university won any awards? Awards and achievements are an indication of the university’s quality and standards.
- What is the campus size? Some students like a small college with a personal touch while others prefer a large university campus with access to a lot of facilities.
3. Do they Prepare you for the Future Work Force
- Are there subjects in the degree programme that will prepare you for the future work force?
- Does the university have seminars or activities to equip you with the necessary skills for the future job?
- Do they have Internship and co-op programs during the diploma or degree?
- Subjects offered in the Pre-University (Pre-U) Programme. Do they help you to achieve your undergraduate academic goals. Does the subject combinations allow you to enter your university and degree of choice.
- Does the university organise job fairs regularly to expose students to the future employers so that you can get a job easily.
- Do they invite speakers from the industry to share about their experiences as well as about the career?
- Do they have seminars to develop your soft skills?
4. Qualified & Experienced Lecturers
- What are their qualifications?
- How many years of experience in teaching?
- Are the lecturers full time? If most of them are part time, then you may not have access to the lecturers to discuss about your course
- What is the faculty to student ration?
- Ask your friends who have studied there for their opinion. Ask your friends who are currently studying there as well.
5. Facilities at the University
- What are the facilities available at the campus? (labs, libraries, wifi, computer access, sports facilities, etc.)
- What are the facilities specifically for your course? Are they adequate to support your studies?
- Do they have research facilities? This would be important if you’re planning to study applied science courses like Biotechnology or Food Science
- Do they have sports facilities on campus? If you like to play football or basketball, it may be important for you to choose a university that has such facilities available to you
- Is there car park available should you drive
6. Location of the University
- Where is the university located? City centre or rural?
- Depending on your personality, some students may prefer a city life while others prefer a peaceful campus environment.
- Is there easy access to public transportation?
- What are the shops, banks, restaurants or malls nearby?
7. What is the Budget for your Studies?
- 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.)
- How much are the tuition fees? Does it include the external exam fees and other fees?
- Financial assistance (Scholarships, PTPN Loan, EPF withdrawal, MARA Loan, etc)
- 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.?
8. Campus Environment
- 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.
- Does the university have international students? Being part of a global environment will expose you to different cultures & new ideas, create opportunities for future collaboration and enhance your communication abilities.
- Is it a party university or a studious environment?
- What are the Extra-curricular activities available? (Student organisations, clubs, sports, etc.)
9. Student Support Services
- Does the university have a dedicated department to handle students’ welfare and emotional well-being.
- Do they have a Student Body?
- What are the clubs & societies on campus?
- Does the college or university have a dedicated department to assist students for the overseas university and scholarship applications?
- Does the university have regular visits from overseas universities so that you can expose yourself to the various universities and ask questions?
10. Application Matters
- Do they have enough students to start a class?
- Intake dates
- How many students do they have studying that course at that university?
- What is the duration of the Pre-University (Pre-U), Foundation, Diploma or Degree Programme?
- When do you get your results so that you can meet the application deadline for the overseas university?
- Go for the Open Day and tour the campus as well as talk to the lecturers.