Types of Higher Educational Institutions in Malaysia

Higher education is well organised in Malaysia. There are many higher educational institutions in the country. International students prefer to complete their higher education from leading institutions in Malaysia which offer a wide range of professional as well as academic courses. Public institutions of higher education as well as private universities are offering excellent educational courses and programmes in Malaysia.

Different Types of Higher Educational Institutions in Malaysia

Public Institutions of Higher Education/PIHE 

These higher educational institutions are state-run or public organisations. There are a total of 20 public institutions of higher education in Malaysia. These institutions provide quality education to students in Malaysia. Public higher educational institutions are categorised into 3 major groups:
  • Research Universities
  • Focused Universities 
  • Comprehensive Universities
Focused universities are further subdivided into:
  • Technical Universities
  • Education Universities
  • Management Universities
  • Defence Universities
Research Universities: These universities focus on research and are characterised by quality lectures, competitive entries and academic orientation. The ratio of undergraduates to postgraduates is around 50:50.  

Comprehensive Universities: These universities offer various courses and different fields of study. Quality education is imparted here and entrance is a highly competitive process. The ratio of undergraduates to postgraduates is 70 to 30 here. 
Focussed Universities: These institutions focus on specialised fields pertaining to their establishment. With top grade education and good excellent educational standards, these universities are oriented towards specialised research. The ratio of undergraduates to postgraduates is around 50:50. 

Private Institutions of Higher Education/PVIHE

The National Private Institutions of Higher Education/PVIHE are oriented towards providing human capital for the nation’s growth. Access and equity management support is given to these institutions by the government under the National Higher Strategic Plan/NHESP. 


Polytechnics in Malaysia impart new technical skills for ensuring the country fulfils the condition of the New Economic Model. The emphasis of these institutions is to encourage innovation and creativity among students.  Polytechnics in Malaysia are known for producing knowledgeable and skilled workforce. 

Community Colleges

Community colleges provide development of local communities through development of human capital. The training programmes provided by these institutions are oriented towards creation of LLE or Lifelong Learning Environment. Community colleges provide lifelong learning skills for :
  • Skill development and clearance of the path to education for secondary school leavers
  • Progressive training programmes for enhancing the socioeconomic level of local communities
  • Lifelong learning to improve wellbeing
  • Collaboration with other institutions of higher education as well as industries and companies

Foreign Universities

There are also many foreign universities in Malaysia which offer courses in partnership with Malaysian institutions. Students can get an international qualification without leaving Malaysia through this way. These universities have branch campuses in Malaysia. Course fees of these universities are also reasonable. There are several foreign universities in Malaysia such as  Monash University, Curtin University of Technology Sarawak Campus, University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, and Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus.

Twinning programmes in Malaysia offer only selected courses and foreign universities offer a wider range of courses. Students can also opt for studying at a host university for some semesters while paying the branch campus tuition fee. Foreign university branch campuses offer students a chance to further studies at the post graduate level. 

Educational Bodies Governing Higher Education Institutions

Admission of students for public institutions of higher education is managed by the Department of Higher Education’s Student Admission Management Division. Information on the admission of students into these institutions is also present at the  UPU Website.

Admission of students into polytechnic colleges is under the control of the Department of Polytechnic Colleges, Student Intake Division. Admission of students into community colleges is through the Department of Community Colleges’ Student Intake Division. Information about these community colleges can be had from the website of the  Admission to Community Colleges.

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