Universities in Malaysia are generally categorised either as public or private universities. Private universities include locally established universities and campuses of foreign universities. Public universities in Malaysia are funded by the Government and are governed as self-managed institutions. Apart from the University of Malaya and the MARA University of Technology which were established by two separate enabling Acts of Parliament, the other public universities in Malaysia were created by executive order as per the provisions of the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971.
One feature of the Malaysian higher educational system is that there are a number of universities that have been founded on Islamic principles and aim to instil Islamic values in their teachings, as opposed to other institutions that are more secular in their outlook.
Currently there are 20 public and 48 private universities, some of which are local campuses of foreign universities. University rankings are determined by a number of factors such as the attractiveness of campus, the satisfaction of students and alumni, extra-curricular benefits, and the affordability of tuition. In the case of Malaysia, you can also add religion into the mix.
However, when it comes to academic prestige, scholarly excellence and the quality of the graduates they produce, there are some universities that invariably will feature in any list detailing the best learning institutions in Malaysia. The rankings may vary depending on what criteria are used to judge them, with proponents of the competing universities arguing fiercely for the merits of their particular institution, but all of the following can be regarded as among the academic elite.
Here are the 30 best Universities in Malaysia.
The University of Malaya is a public research university located in Kuala Lumpur. It is the oldest and the most prestigious university in Malaysia. In 2017, the QS World University Rankings has ranked UM at the 112th place in the world, 23th place in Asia, 3rd in Southeast Asia and the top ranked learning institution in Malaysia.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak or UNIMAS which was officially incorporated in December 1992, is Malaysia’s first public university. UNIMAS has been ranked first in Asian University Rankings 2017 by QS World University Rankings. At present, the University consists of 50 Faculties, three Institutes and 60 centres. The Faculty of Language and Communication is the latest faculty to be formed.
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman is a not-for-profit, comprehensive, private university in Malaysia. UTAR is one of the most prestigious private universities in Malaysia, ranked top 100 in Times Higher Education Asia University Rankings 2018,and ranked 2nd in Malaysia after the University of Malaya. The university consists of 9 faculties, 3 institutes, 3 centres and 28 research centres.
University Putra Malaysia is recognised by independent government assessments as one of Malaysia’s leading research universities offering undergraduate and postgraduate courses with a focus on agricultural sciences and its related fields. Founded in 1931 as the School of Agriculture, UPM’s main campus is in central Peninsular Malaysia, close to the capital city, Kuala Lumpur and next to Malaysia’s administrative capital city, Putrajaya. In 2017 it was ranked 36th in Best Asian Universities and the 2nd best university in Malaysia
Universiti Teknologi MARA is a public university based primarily in Shah Alam, the state capital of Selangor, some 28 kilometres (17 mi) west of Kuala Lumpur. It has grown into the largest higher education institution in Malaysia when measured by physical infrastructure, staff·organisation (academic and non-academic) and student enrollment. The university comprises one main campus, 13 autonomous state campuses and 21 satellite campuses. With 17,000 of academic and non-academic staff, UiTM offers some 500 programmes ranging from foundation to postgraduate level. It is home to some 168,000 students. The teaching is fully conducted in English.
Universiti Sains Malaysia is a government funded autonomous university in Malaysia founded in 1969 as a statutory body with its own constitution, it is among the oldest institutes of higher learning (IHL) in Northern Malaysia. It has three campuses, a main campus on the island of Penang, a health campus in Kelantan, and an engineering campus in Nibong Tebal. With around 28,300 postgraduate and undergraduate students , USM is one of the biggest universities in terms of enrolment in Malaysia
The National University of Malaysia is a public university located in Bangi, Selangor. It’s considered as one of the most prestigious university in Malaysia. There are 17,500 undergraduate students enrolled, and 5,105 postgraduate students, of which 1,368 are foreign students from 35 countries. Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia is one of five research universities in the country. It was ranked number 259th in the world by QS World University Rankings in 2014. It is ranked 98th place in the 100 best new universities established within the last 50 years in the world. It is the only university from Malaysia that made it in the 2012 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Top 50 Universities Under 50 Years Old list, ranking in 31st place. It placed 56th and 56th in the QS Top 500 Asian University Rankings in 2014 and 2015 respectively.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (also known as UTM) is a public research-intensive university specialising in engineering, science and technology, located in Iskandar Puteri, Johor, with a branch campus in Kuala Lumpur.
The Universiti Utara Malaysia was established in 1984. The curriculum includes business administration, accountancy, finance, economics, banking, marketing, human resource management, insurance and risk management, Islamic banking and finance, operations management, and technology management.
The International Islamic University Malaysia is a public university established in 1983 and founded upon Islamic principles, with Islamic values inculcated into all disciplines. The university is sponsored by eight governments from the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC).
Universiti Malaysia Sabah was established in 1994. Since 2014 it has been restructured into ten faculties. UMS includes three centres of excellence: The Borneo Marine Research Institute, the Biotechnology Research Institute, and the Institute for Tropical Biology and Conservation.
The Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia, is a public university in Batu Pahat, Johor. It was formerly known as Institut Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn (ITTHO) and Kolej Universiti Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn (KUiTTHO). Along with other public university colleges, KUiTTHO was promoted to full university status in 2007.
Universiti Malaysia Pahang is a public technical university in Pahang, which was formerly known as Kolej Universiti Kejuruteraan dan Teknologi Malaysia (English: University College of Engineering & Technology Malaysia) (KUKTEM). The university consists of 19 departments/units and 10 faculties (some are known as centres) and specialises in engineering and technology.
Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) is a Malaysian public institution of higher learning located in Perlis, which was founded in 2001. UniMAP now offers 6 Diploma programmes, 37 Bachelor’s Degree programmes, 20 Master’s Degree programmes and 12 Doctor of Philosophy programmes for almost 10,000 students.
Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris Education University is a public university in the town of Tanjung Malim, Perak. First established in 1922 as a teachers’ college, it is one of the oldest functioning institutions of higher learning in Malaysia. IPSI was upgraded to a full university bearing its current name in May 1997, in line with the plans by Malaysia to increase the number of graduate teachers in primary and secondary schools.
Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) is a private university, located in Selangor, which is wholly owned by the public-listed Tenaga Nasional Bertha (TNB), established in 1999. The university specialises in engineering and business management.
Multimedia University is a private university. The university has three campuses, located in Melaka, Cyberjaya and Iskandar Puteri. The university hosts 9 faculties and 19 research centres. Since 2015, MMU has been placed in the top 151-200 universities worldwide by QS World University Rankings both in the category of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, and in Computer Science and Information systems.
The Al-Madinah International University is an independent educational institution in Selangor. It was established in 2006, founded on Islamic principles and values. The university aims for knowledge development and intellectual exchange consistent with international level of excellence. There are six faculties: Islamic Sciences, Engineering, Finance & Administrative Sciences, Computer & Information Technology, Education, and Languages.
Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka is a public university located in Durian Tunggal, Alor Gajah, Melaka. It is the pioneer in the use of the “Practice and Application Oriented” teaching and learning method for tertiary level technical education in Malaysia. The campus is located in the UNESCO world heritage system of Melaka.
Universiti Kuala Lumpur is a multi-campus university technical university with its main campus based in Kuala Lumpur. Rated as a Tier-5 “Excellent University” by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia, UniKL has 14 institutes spread across 12 campuses throughout Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur, Gombak, Cheras, Bangi, Kajang, Sepang, Taboh Naning, Pasir Gudang, Ipoh, Lumut and Kulim.
The Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS is a private research university located in Perak., The university is a wholly owned subsidiary of PETRONAS, the national oil company of Malaysia. The university conducts extensive research activities in collaboration with PETRONAS and other institutions and industries locally and abroad, focusing on Enhanced Oil Recovery, Carbon Dioxide Management, Deepwater Technology, Nanotechnology, Green Technology, Biomedical Technology, Hybrid Energy Systems, Intelligent Cities and Sustainable Resources. In recent years, UTP wasranked in the top 200 in the 2014 Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Ranking by subject for Chemical Engineering.
The Universiti Malaysia Terengganu is a university in Kuala Nerus District, Terengganu, established in 2007. The founding of the university can be traced back to 1979 when the Centre for Fisheries and Marine Science was founded in Mengabang Telipot, Terengganu. Over the years the centre has moved on from its original role and diversified to become a centre for maritime and oceanography research and development.
The University of Selangor is a university wholly owned and managed by the Selangor state government independently — without funding from the Malaysian federal government (and is thus regarded as a “private” as opposed to a “public” university). Its main campus is in the township of Bestari Jaya, approximately 50 km from the federal capital of Kuala Lumpur.
INTI International University & Colleges are private university colleges located in Malaysia. The main campus was initially known as INTI University College until 31 May 2010 when the Higher Education Ministry announced its upgrade to university status. It is owned by INTI Education Group which has formalised its partnership with Laureate International Universities in 2008. On 18 December 2017, Laureate International Universities sold all five campuses of INTI to Affinity Equity Partners for $180 million.
HELP University is a private university in Kuala Lumpur founded in 1986. It has partnerships with universities in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Canada, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, and in Europe. In 2013, Kim Jong-un was awarded an honorary doctorate in Economics by the university.
Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin is located in the state of Terengganu. It is the first full-fledged university in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and the first university to be based on the “cluster” concept. It is modelled after the University of London system. The university has four campuses, namely Gong Badak Campus, Medical Campus, Tembila Campus and the latest, the UniSZA International Campus (UIC) in Kuala Lumpur City. The university has 10 faculties located across the different campuses which offer programmes in diploma, bachelor’s and master’s level. as well as doctor of philosophy. The university is considered the biggest “comprehensive university” in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia and to be one of the most respected Islamic-based institutions of higher learning in Malaysia.
UCSI University is a multi-campus private university based in Malaysia. It is a member of the UCSI Education Group which comprises UCSI International School Springhill, UCSI International School Subang, Sri UCSI School, UCSI Child Development Centre, UCSI Publishing House and UCSI Extension. In 2017, UCSI had nearly 20,000 students on its main campus in Kuala Lumpur alone.
Taylor’s University is a private university in Subang Jaya, Selangor. It was founded in 1969 as a college, was awarded university college status in 2006, and university status in 2010. Taylor’s University offers courses in tertiary education, from foundation and diploma to degree, post-graduate and professional programmes. Taylor’s University is a member of the Taylor’s Education Group which comprises Taylor’s College, Garden International School, Taylor’s International School, Australian International School Malaysia, Nexus International School Malaysia, and Nexus International School Singapore.
The Universiti Malaysia Kelantan is a public university in Kelantan, founded in 2006. Studies are grouped into three fields – Entrepreneurship and Business; Creative Technology and Heritage; and Agro-Industry and the Science of Natural Resources.
Sunway University is a private university based in Bandar Sunway, Subang Jaya, Selangor. It was opened in 1987 as Sunway College, part of which was then separated in 2004 and upgraded by the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education to a university college. In January 2011 it was further upgraded to full university status and became Sunway University. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate programmes taught in English.