Last updated Friday, 23 August, 2019 11:31:16 AM

Options After SPM

Foundation Programmes vs Pre-university Courses

The most important criterion when deciding on a pre-university course is whether the course had been accredited by the Malaysian Government.

Using a university’s foundation course is a strategic plan in aiming to enter a particular university.
Foundation studies were meant for students focused on getting into a particular university or course.

Most of these foundation programmes were shorter than pre-university courses was due to its more focused content.

Malaysia has the following
higher education opportunities
for secondary students:

20 Public Universities
4 Foreign University Branch Campuses
33 Private Universities
500 Private Colleges
24 Polytechnics




Where to Study

5   Pre-School Education Ministry's Guidelines Kindergartens
7 1 Primary School Education UPSR Types of Primary Schools :
1) National Schools
2) National Type Schools (Chinese)
3) National Type Schools (Tamil)
8 2
9 3
10 4
11 5
12 6
13 1 Lower Secondary School Education PMR Types of Secondary Schools :
1) Academic Secondary Schools
2) Other Special Schools
14 2
15 3
16 4 Upper Secondary School Education SPM Type of Upper Secondary Schools :
1) Academic Secondary Schools
2) Technical Schools
3) Vocational Schools
4) Other types of Schools
17 5
18 Lower
College Education - Post Secondary School Education College Education
2-3 Years
Types of College Education :
1) Polytechnics 2-3 Years
2) Community Colleges 2 Years
3) Government Colleges 2-3 Years
4) Public Universities Diploma Level
5) Teacher Institutes 3-5 Years
Matriculation Certificate
2 Years
19 Upper
Post Secondary School Education
or College Education
Type of Post Secondary Schools :
1) Academic Post Secondary Schools 2 Years STPM
3) Matriculation Colleges of Ministry
20   First Bachelor's Degree
(3 -5 Years)
University Curriculum & Qualification Universities Education :
Bachelor's Degree 3-4 Years
23   Master's Degree Education University Curriculum & Qualification Universities Education :
Master's Degree 1-2 Years
25   Doctoral Degree University Curriculum & Qualification Universities Education :
Ph.D 3-5 Years

Pre-University Studies Duration Cost
GCE A Level, UK 18 months RM 12,000 to 16,000
Western Australian Matriculation AUSMAT, Australia 1 year RM7,000 - 9,900
South Australian Matriculation (SAM), Australia 1 year RM9,000- 13,500
Canadian Pre-U, Canada 1 year RM12,300- 13,500
University Foundation Studies, Malaysia 1 year RM7,000- 12,000

CHINESE FORUM :  After STPM dilemma

This Chinese website analyze the CGPA's of students that are accepted at some of the IPTA's institution.

Student Malaysia Forums - Official online student community of Malaysia Students blog.

Malaysia Students – Some interesting topics are How to Score 1A in SPM Chemistry and STPM UPU Co-curricular Activities Participation Explained. Update: This forum has been closed for new discussion since November 2006. – Well-known and growing forum where students around the world gather to discuss almost every topic under the sun.


 3  categories of Pre-University Programmes in Malaysia

Malaysian Post-secondary Qualifications by the Malaysian Examination Board A University's Internal Foundation Programmes International Pre-University Qualifications by an External Examination Board

> International Pre-University Qualifications by an External Examination Board
The common types of externally accredited pre-university courses available to students with an SPM qualification or its equivalent are listed below. It prepares them for higher level of studies such as Bachelor's Degree programmes or professional courses (ACCA, CIMA, etc.).

1 -  GCE 'A' Levels by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE)

Upon passing the GCE O Levels, students have a choice of continuing with the GCE A Levels programme (UK's post-16 qualifications) offered by the University of Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) which is part of the University of Cambridge Local Examination Syndicate (UCLES). Many private colleges in Malaysia prepare students to sit for this examination which is a popular option among Malaysians as well as international students. It is internationally-recognized for admission into universities worldwide including professional courses.
The A Level subject syllabi are divided into two levels: Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and Advanced Two (A2) levels, each contributing 50% towards the final A Level grade. AS Level is the first half of the course and forms the foundation of A Level. A2 Level is

the second part of the syllabus and covers more difficult topics. There are normally between 2 to 4 A level subjects and General Paper or English is compulsory. The duration of study is usually 15 to 18 months (3 semesters). Both the 'AS' and 'A2' levels are flexible and students have the freedom to select the subjects that they are interested in, either to study a broad variety of subjects or to specialize in a particular area.
For assessment purposes, students con choose any one of the following options:
1) Take all papers of the A Levels in one sitting, usually at the end of the second year of study, or
2) Take the 'staged' assessment route, that is, to take the AS Level in one examination session and the final part of the assessment A2 Level at a subsequent session, or
3) Take the AS Level only, either at the end of the one-year or two-year course.
It is a 100% external examination. Both the A2 and AS Level examination sessions occur twice a year, in June and November, with some subjects only available in June or November. Results are issued in August and February respectively.

2 - GCE A Level by the London Examinations Board

International Students can also take up the A Level programmes conducted by the prestigious London Examinations and delivered by Edexcel International. The London Examinations GCE Advanced Levels are exactly the same as the examination in the UK. International students sit for the same examination papers as students in the UK and candidates are awarded certificates of the some standard regardless of where they are in the world.

The London GCE A Level is accredited by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) of the United Kingdom. The qualifications consist of two sets of three units; Advanced Subsidiary (AS) units, generally studied in year one, and A2 units, studied in year two.
Both Science and Arts subjects are available for students who have just completed their SPM or O Level examinations (or its equivalent). The programme is flexible and may be completed in 18 months (3 semesters). Students may take the examination in stages or in one silting. Most subjects comprise 6 modular units. Students are also allowed to re-sit a unit for an unlimited number of limes and only the better grade will be counted. There are two examinations conducted per year (in January and June). Most combinations of at least 3 subjects are acceptable as entry qualifications to many universities in the world for their undergraduate programmes.

5 - South Australia Matriculation (SAM)

The South Australian Matriculation, or SAM, is an internationally-recognized Australian pre-university matriculation programme which is set and administered by the Senior Secondary Assessment Board of South Australia (SSABSA). This is a statutory authority of the South Australian Government with the sole legislative responsibility for the curriculum and assessment of senior secondary education in that state. SAM has been offered to students outside of Australia since 1984 and is accepted by many renowned universities in Australia, the UK, the USA, New Zealand and India as an admission criterion into their undergraduate programmes.
SAM has a unique assessment pattern, in which 50% of the final mark is derived from the final examination while the other remaining 50% is internally-awarded through continuous assessment of coursework and tests, thereby assessing the student's overall performance. It offers students the flexibility to complete the programme over on extended period although the normal duration of study is one year. The curriculum consists of five subjects and students must take up English as a Second Language or English Studies. Students can also repeat subjects without a penalty. Students will be awarded the South Australian Certificate of Education (SACE).
The intake for students is only held once a year. The minimum qualification for admission into the SAM programme is the O Level certificate or equivalent qualifications, with at least five credits totaling not more than 30 points, including credits in English and Mathematics / Science.

3 - Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT)

The Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) is the final year (Year 12) of the secondary school programme offered by the government of Western Australia to enable entry into year one Bachelor's degree programmes of most universities around the world, such as Australia, the UK, New Zealand, the US, Canada, and private universities in Malaysia.
The AUSMAT is an internationally-recognized pre-university programme administered by the Curriculum Council of Western Australia on behalf of the Western Australian government. Students are graded based on their performance throughout the year, i.e. 50% course and project work and 50% final examination. This arrangement not only helps to remove pressure from the single year-end assessment, but also provides opportunities for the usage of a variety of assessment techniques in determining the students' standard of achievement.
The entry requirement into AUSMAT is SPM, O Level certificate or other equivalent qualifications, with a minimum of five credits in the subjects of Science and Mathematics. The student intakes

are in January and March. The examination session occurs once a year in the first week of November. The course duration is between eight to 10 months and students are required to take up five subjects including either English or ESL.

4 -  Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP)

The Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP), which is also known as the Canadian Pre-University Programme (CPU) is the final year of the secondary school programme in Ontario, Canada. It was established in 1990 and has since grown to become the largest Canadian Matriculation programme in the world. It is designed based on the course guidelines and standards of the Ministry of Education and Training of the Ontario Province. Upon meeting all requirements of the programme, students will graduate with the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD).
CIMP is a one-year course based on an Ontario Curriculum and students take a total of six subjects which include one English subject, that is, either ENG4E or ENG4U. Assessment comprises 70% coursework and 30% final examinations. Intake is three times a year i.e. January, March and July. The examination session occurs twice a year in May and November. The minimum entry requirement is five credits in SPM, O Levels or equivalent.


6 - International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme

The International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme is another recognized pre-university qualification for entry into degree courses of the world's leading universities. Created in 1968, this Diploma Programme is a comprehensive two-year curriculum, primarily aimed at students aged 16 to 19. This programme requires students to study both humanities and science subjects. There are altogether six subjects which include English, Mathematics, a foreign language. Science, Social Science like History or Geography and a creative subject like Drama or Art.
It is fast becoming a preferred pre-university course. This is because the programme offers a broad and balanced curriculum related to real world issues and problems. Wherever possible, subjects are taught from an international perspective. The programme is open to Malaysians and international students and the entry requirement is SPM or GCE O Level.

7 - Malaysian Post-secondary Qualifications
SPM school leavers in Malaysia can opt to pursue a pre-university qualification awarded by the Ministry of Education Malaysia. The Malaysian authorities offer two types of Malaysian post-secondary or pre-university (post-secondary) programmes. The programmes are:

A) The Sixth Form (Malaysian High School Certificate)
The Sixth Form prepares SPM (equivalent to O Level) students to sit for a common public examination leading to the award of a high school certificate, namely Sijil Tinggi Persekolohon Malaysia (or better known as STPM). This qualification is equivalent to the General Certificate of Education (GCE) A Level certificate. STPM programmes offer two streams - Science and Arts.
Form Six comprises the lower form and upper form and is conducted over a duration of one and a half years. The examination body, Majlis Peperiksaon Malaysia, allows students to enroll for the examination with a minimum of one subject and a maximum of five subjects (including General Studies). There is only one intake per year in the month of May. Besides the local universities, the STPM certificate is accepted by the world's leading universities for entry into degree programmes.


B) Matriculation Certificate by Ministry of Education (for 1 year)
The Matriculation Programme is another pre-university qualification conducted by the Matriculation Colleges under the Ministry of Education, which award the pre-university certificate. The Matriculation programme offers two streams - Science and Accounting.
Each stream offers at least six subjects and the duration of study is two semesters totaling one year. The intake of students into Matriculation Colleges is conducted once a year in March or April.
These qualifications prepare students for entry into local public universities, private colleges, private universities, foreign university branch campuses in Malaysia, foreign universities overseas and other kinds of higher educational institutions or alternatively, into the workforce. STPM and Matriculation qualifications are awarded by the MOE and ore recognized by the government as the entry requirement to Malaysian public universities.

8 University's Internal Pre-U Qualifications

Many private higher educational institutions, especially those offering twinning degree programmes have developed their own internal university foundation programmes. These courses are usually accredited by the Malaysia quality assurance agency (LAN) and recognized by the respective foreign partner universities and also accepted by many other overseas universities as on equivalent to pre-university qualification in their respective home countries.
Unlike the external qualifications which focus more on general Science and Art-based subjects, the internal qualifications provide specializations in precise areas of study such as business, computer & IT, and engineering; hence, catering to the specific needs of different students.
There are basically three intakes a year for these internal university foundation programmes, which would usually lake a period of one year lo complete. The general entry requirement for admission into these university foundation programmes is the SPM, GCE O Level or other equivalent qualifications, where students are required to possess a minimum of five credits in relevant subjects.

Among some instances of internal pre-university programmes individually offered by the private colleges are the:
1 - Pre-University Courses for BioScience / Engineering / Law by Taylor's University College
2 - Foundation for University Studies in Business; and Foundation for University Studies in Science by KDU College
3 - Foundation Certificate in Engineering, Science & Technology by KBU International College
4 - The Monash University Foundation Year
5 - Australian Foundation Business Studies (La Trobe University) by Nilai International College