Last updated Friday, 01 February, 2019 11:21:45 PM

Higher Education in Malaysia  →  Public Universities

Malaysian Government Universities (public universities) are categorized into three groups:
A- Research Universities
B- Focussed Universities
C- Comprehensive Universities.

There are 20 Public Universities (Government Universities) comprising 5 research universities, 4 comprehensive universities, and 11 focussed universities.

A- Research Universities
Fields of Study: Focus is on research
Competitive entries
Quality lecturers
Ratio of undergraduates to postgraduates is 50:50
Universiti Malaya (UM)
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM)
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM)
B- Comprehensive Universities
Various fields of study
Competitive entries
Quality lecturers
Ratio of undergraduates to postgraduates is 70:30
Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM)
Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia
Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS)
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS)
C- Focussed Universities
(technical, education, management and defence)
Fields of Study : Focus is on research
Competitive entries
Quality lecturers
Ratio of undergraduates to postgraduates is 50:50
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM)
Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI)
Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia
Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM)
Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP)
Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT)
Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP)
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)
Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA)
Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK)
Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia


Funding of Public Universities (2007)

Funding of Public Universities (2007)
90% of the public universities' funding came from Malaysian Government and the balance 10% is from student fees.

There are 20 Public Universities in Malaysia
Public Universities in Malaysia are funded by the Government and are governed as self-managed institutions come under the Universities and University Colleges Act 1971.

International Islamic University Malaysia الجامعة الإسلامية العالمية ماليزيا
International Islamic University Malaysia
لجامعة الإسلامية العالمية ماليزيا

IIUM - Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia founded on 10 May 1983 to revitalize the intellectual tradition of the ummah. The university's diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in several fields equipping students with the ability to integrate Islamic learning with intellectual creativity. This international university uses English and Arabic and has a 20% of international students.
Pahang and Selangor

Universiti Malaya (University of Malaya)

Universiti Malaya (University of Malaya)

(research university)
WP Kuala Lumpur

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM)
Formally Kolej Universiti Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn (KUiTTHO) upgraded on 2007 as UTHM university

Kolej Universiti Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn KUiTTHO

Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia is a public university in Batu Pahat, Johor, Malaysia. It was formerly known as Institut Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn and Kolej Universiti Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn.
The history of Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia started off on September 16, 1993 as Pusat Latihan Staf Politeknik (PLSP). The core business of PLSP then was to train and produce polytechnics academic staff to become knowledgeable and skilful in various engineering fields. The training institute was jointly administered by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Ministry of Education.

University Technology MARA UiTM

University Technology MARA UiTM

26 August 1999, Institut Teknologi MARA was granted university status and renamed Universiti Teknologi MARA. This new university continues its initial intent to offer academic programmes as well as professional programmes in accountancy and information technology. UiTM pioneer in higher learning to producing a significant number of Bumiputera professionals skilled in a broad spectrum of industry.


Universiti Sains Malaysia (University of Science, Malaysia)

Universiti Sains Malaysia
(University of Science, Malaysia)

The second university in Malaysia. Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) was first known as the University of Penang in 1969.
(research university)
Kelantan and Penang

Universiti Putra Malaysia (Putra University,Malaysia)

Universiti Putra Malaysia
(Putra University,Malaysia)

(research university)
Formally Universiti Pertanian Malaysia. Established in 4 October 1971 for the training of agricultural assistants in the government sector after the amalgamation of the College of Agriculture and the Faculty of Agriculture of Universiti Malaya in 1971.
Renamed Universiti Putra Malaysia on 26 July 1997.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia  (National University of Malaysia)

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia
(National University of Malaysia)

(research university)
UKM - Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia was established On 18 May 1970 as the first public university to use Bahasa Malaysia as medium of instruction in higher education.
Selangor and WP Kuala Lumpur

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (Technological University of Malaysia)

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia
(Technological University of Malaysia)

Established on 1 April 1975. Its history dates back to 1925 as the Public Works Department Technical School. In 1931, it became the Education Department for training apprentices for the PWD, Malayan Railways and the Survey Department. In 1946, the school was upgraded to Technical College. In 1975, it was further upgraded to a university.

Universiti Utara Malaysia (Northern University of Malaysia)

Universiti Utara Malaysia
(Northern University of Malaysia)

16 February 1984 Universiti Utara Malaysia was established as a catalyst for the growth of the Northern region of Malaysia. UUM focus on management education.


Universiti Pendidkan Sultan Idris (UPSI)

Universiti Pendidkan Sultan Idris (UPSI)

MPSI, Malaysia oldest teacher training college (established in 1922) was bestowed institute status in 1987 as Institute Perguruan Sultan Idris (IPSI). With its new status, IPSI started to introduce new courses including a twinning programme with Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (Universiti Putra Malaysia). IPSI was upgraded to university status On 24 February 1997 and renamed Universiti Pendidkan Sultan Idris (UPSI).

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (University of Malaysia Sarawak)

Universiti Malaysia Sarawak
(University of Malaysia Sarawak)

24 December 1992, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak became the first university in East Malaysia. A catalyst for the development of East Malaysia and spearheading research and studies focus on sustainable management of natural resources.

Universiti Malaysia Sabah (University of Malaysia Sabah)

Universiti Malaysia Sabah
(University of Malaysia Sabah)

Universiti Malaysia Sabah was established on 24 November 1994 with the objective to train experts in various fields, particularly Marine Science.

Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP)

Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP)

Kolej Universiti Kejuruteraan & Teknologi Malaysia (KUKTEM) was established on 16 February 2000 as a competency-based technical university that specializes in engineering and technology with focuses on Chemical Engineering, Biotechnology Industries, Automotive Engineering, and Manufacturing Engineering.


Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA)

Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA)
Previously : Universiti Darul Iman Malaysia (UDM)

1 January 2006, Universiti Darul Iman Malaysia was established with three campuses, each with a separate niche. The KUSZA campus focuses on teaching in Islamic studies. The campus in Kuala Terengganu offers Health Sciences while the campus in Besut specialized in Biotechnology and Agriculture programmes.

Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM)

Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM)

Malaysian Armed Forces Academy (Akademi Tentera Malaysia - ATMA) established on 1 June 1995 to provide military training for cadet officers of the Armed Forces of Malaysia (ATM) was upgraded on 10 November 2006 to Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) offering Bachelor's degree on defence science and management.
WP Kuala Lumpur

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)

Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM)

Kolej Universiti Islam Malaysia (KUIM) upgraded to Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) in 2007
Negeri Sembilan

Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT)

Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT)

Formerly known as :KUSTEM - July 2001, KUT - July 1999, UPMT - June 1996
Kolej Universiti Sains & Teknologi Malaysia (KUSTEM) upgraded to Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) on Feb 1st, 2007


Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM)

Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka (UTeM)

In 2007 Kolej Universiti Teknikal Kebangsaan Malaysia (KUTKM) was upgraded to UTeM University.

Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP)

Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP)

Previously known as : Kolej Universiti Kejuruteraan Utara Malaysia (KUKUM)

Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK)

Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK)

Universiti Malaysia Kelantan was established on 14 June 2006 at the onset of the Ninth Malaysia Plan which stresses on the development of human capital with first-class minds to explore, develop and expand knowledge in the areas of agrobusiness, entrepreneurship, heritage, creative technology and natural resource sciences.

As in 2016, Malaysia has :

1) 414 Private colleges
2) 37 Private universities
3) 10 Private University-colleges
4) 1 Public University-college
5) 10 Foreign branch campus
6) 20 Public universities

Year 2006 Students enrolment in Government's Higher Education Institution

Year 2006 Students enrolment in Government's Higher Education Institution




Teacher Training Colleges


Community Colleges 11,606 34
TAR College 29,098 1
Public Universities 309,091 17

Malaysia International Scholarship (MIS) Ministry Of Higher Education Malaysia for Foreign Students

The Malaysia International Scholarship (MIS) is an initiative by the Malaysian Government to attract the best minds from around the world to pursue advanced academic studies in Malaysia. This scholarship aims to support The Malaysian Government's effort to attract, motivate and retain talented human capital from abroad.

Talented international students with excellent academic records and outstanding co-curricular backgrounds are welcome to apply for this scholarship and further their studies in any selected and well-established Malaysian public and private universities.

This scholarship is divided into two categories:

Post-doctoral Studies

More about : Education Funding in Malaysia

 A total of 85,247 students registered for the new varsity intake at local Malaysia’s public universities for the 2012/2013 academic session.

The number included 46,698 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia school leavers and the other 38,549 with Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia qualifications or its equivalent.

Public universities (Government's Universities) produce graduates who can acquire and apply their knowledge for the benefit of the Malaysian society.
No every interested student could gain an entry into these institutions because the places for first degree programmes are limited.
The Ministry of Higher Education thus placed hope on private higher educational institutions to complement and supplement the mission.

More students in Malaysia can obtain degree level education now because of private higher educational institutions (PHEIs). Many of these institutions offer twinning degree programmes or full 3+0 and 4+0 degree programmes in collaboration with overseas universities from countries like the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Thus, Malaysian and foreign students have a wide choice of higher education institutions and programmes.
Foreign university branch campuses have played a significant role in meeting the demand by Malaysian for Bachelor's degree programmes.
DATA SOURCES : Ministry of Education MoE, Ministry of Higher Education MoHE

(University of Malaysian Government)
All applications to study in public universities are centrally processed (except postgraduate studies) by the centralized processing agency known as :
Bahagitan Pengurusan Kemasukan Pelajar (BPKP)
The Division of Student Admission
(formerly known as Unit Pusat Universtti, UPU).
BPKP processes applications from students with SPM, STPM, STAM, diploma or matriculation qualifications. The agency is under The Department of Higher Education (Jabalan Pengajian Tinggi) of the Ministry of Higher Education and is responsible for the management of the admission of students into the 20 public universities.
The main function of BPKP (formally UPU) is to process and coordinate the intake of Malaysian students into local public universities for the following programmes of study:
• Programmes after SPM
• Programmes for Government recognized Diploma Holders
• Programmes after Matriculation programmes
• Programmes after STAM
• Programmes after STPM
• Master's degree programmes in medicine
Remarks : At postgraduate studies level, BPKP only processes the intake for Master's degree progremme in medicine and not for other postgraduate courses)
The intake into the public universities through this centralized agency is in July each year.
BPKP is not involved in managing the intake of the following categories of students into public universities and as such these groups of students are required to contact the individual public universities directly. The students involved here are:
• foreign students
• students who undertake programmes conducted via the Distance Learning Education mode or programmes being offered at Certificate level
• students of franchised programmes conducted at private higher educational institutions
Application Procedures
The 'BPKP IPT' or 'UPU' application forms are made available to:
• STPM / STAM qualification holders in January of intake year
• SPM qualification holders in February of the intake year
• Matriculation qualification holders in November prior to the intake year
• Diploma qualification holders in November / December prior to the intake year
All post-secondary school leaver applications for Bachelor's degree programmes must be mode online while application for Diploma level programmes can either be made through printed application form or online v;o the website of the Ministry of Higher Education at The forms, however, must be submitted within 10 days from the date of the release of the examination result, usually in the month of March. Applicants will usually be notified of their applications' statu., in the month of May. There is only one intake a year and is usually in the middle of the year.

Applications to study in public universities
for Malaysian Students completed SPM and STPM

PROGRAMMES for school leavers PROGRAMMES for advance study
1) University Degree Foundation
2) Diploma
3) Bachelor's Degree
4a) Master's degree in Medicine
4b) Master's degree in NON-medicine
5) Ph. D

Bahagitan Pengurusan Kemasukan Pelajar
The Division of Student Admission

Applications are centrally processed by BPKP

Public Universities in Malaysia

Entry Qualifications to a Public University in Malaysia
The general entry requirement :
1) for Diploma level is SPM qualification
2) for undergraduate studies is STPM or equivalent qualifications such as Matriculation certificate of Ministry of Education, STAM and Diplomas which are recognized by the government.

Applicants (Malaysians or non-Malaysians) must fulfil the standard requirements as well as specific conditions like subject requirement, interview and others set by the respective public universities before they can be accepted by the public universities.

SPM = Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia
STPM = Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia
STAM = Sijil Tinggi Agarma Malaysia

University Degree Foundation
Upper secondary schools leavers with SPM qualification

Upper secondary schools leavers with SPM qualification

Bachelor's Degree

• For holders of recognized Diploma qualification
• Post-secondary school leavers with STPM  qualification
• Post-secondary schools leavers with STAM qualification
• Post-secondary schools leavers with Matriculation Certificate of Ministry of Education or Public universities' 'Program Asasi' qualifications

Postgraduate Degree
(Master's Degree)

• Bachelor's degree holders
• Holders of other equivalent qualifications


• Master's degree holders or
• Holders of other equivalent qualifications

The 3 Categories of Public (Government) Universities in Malaysia :

The 3 Categories of Public (Government) Universities in Malaysia :
1) 4 Research universities,
2) 4 Comprehensive universities
3) 12 Focused universities.

In 2007, six public University Colleges were upgraded to full-fledged universities.

In 1997, the University of Malayo adopted a new Constitution to enable corporatisatlon. In the same year, international student enrolment at public universities rose to 3,400 with efforts from overseas marketing activities. Then in 1998, all public universities adopted new constitutions which would ultimately lead to corporatisation. With corporatisotion, publicly owned universities will become more outonomous ond less dependent on the government for public funds.
Kolej Universiti Sains & Teknologi Malaysia was established on 15 July 1999 to offer first degrees in its capacity as a university college. This institution was the Fishery and Oceanography Centre of University Putra Malaysia in 1979 and was then upgraded to a branch campus of UPM in 1996. In 1999, it was granted the status of an independent university college.
Kolej Universiti Islam Malaysia was established on 13 March 1998 as the first public university college. Its objective is to enhance the quality of Islamic education and provide a route for graduates of Islamic religious secondary schools to continue their higher education.
On 30 September 2000, Kolej Universiti Tun Hussein Onn was established. It was initially the Pusat Latihan Staff Politeknik set up on 16 September 1993 to train teaching personnel for the various polytechnics in Malaysia. It was renamed Institute Teknologi Tun Hussein Onn (ITTHO) and in 2000, ITHHO wos given the status of an independent university college.
1 December 2000, Kolej Universiti Teknikal Kebangsaan was established. This is the first public university in the state of Melaka. UTeM is a pioneer in the use of "Practice and Application Oriented" teaching and learning methods for technical education in Malaysia.
On 2 May 2002, Kolej Universiti Kejuruteraan Ulara Malaysia was
established. It aims to produce highly-skilled engineers who are copable of planning, designing, building, testing and maintaining devices, systems and processes; as well as solving engineering problems in an innovative and creative manner.
In 2003, the Government implemented a policy to use English as a medium of instruction in the teaching of Science and Mathematics. Meanwhile, all universities were given the objective of focusing on R&D as well as to internationalise their university. Universities student enrolment reached 307,121 for the 2005/2006 academic session while the international student count stood at 6,622.
In 2006, four universities, namely University of Malaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia were designated research universities with special funding for R&D.
The Education Development Plan for Malaysia (2001 -2010) Blueprint describes the direction of the Malaysian education system in providing world class quality education. The documents outline strategies and implementation of all issues in education development including increasing access, equity, and quality in education as well as in improving efficiency and effectiveness of education management.

Also in 2007 the House of Parliament approved the Malaysian Qualifications Agency Bill 2007. The setting up of the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) is one of the country's initiatives in ensuring that quality in our higher education is progressively enhanced. The agency which is expected to be operational in November 2007 will take over the role of Lemboga Akreditasi Negaro (LAN} and the Higher Education Ministry's Quality Assurance Divisions. MQA will be responsible for the accreditation of courses offered by both public and private higher educational institutions.
The year 2007 also saw the launch of the Strategic Plan for Higher Education: The Foundation Beyond 2020 and The National Higher Education Action Plan 2007-2010. This strategic plan outlines seven strategic thrusts that form the basis of national higher education development up to the year 2020. The Action Plan details comprehensive and specific approaches as well as the targets to achieve, from now to 2010.

Year 2005/2006 Total 309,091 Students enrolled in Government's Public Universities
Year 2005/2006 Total 309,091 Students enrolled in Government's Public Universities

Qualification Levels Number of enrolments
Pre-Diploma 1,015
Certificate 343
Diploma 57,948
First Degree 207,913
Post-Graduate Diploma 850
Master's Degree 31,518
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 9,504

Total :


Public Higher Educational Institutions (Government's) in Malaysia

  Type of Government Higher Education Institutions Number of Institutes
1 Public Universities 20
2 Polytechnics 22
3 Community College 37
4 Public College 1
5 Teacher Education Institutes 27