In 2007 / 2008, there were 12,430 Malaysian students in the UK with 35% enrolled in postgraduate programmes, mainly PhDs (4,375 students) (source: British Council). Most of them are funded by the Malaysian Government. Considering that the average annual fees for a non-EU student in the UK is approximately, £11,00, not counting the cost of living, this is a huge investment on the part of the Malaysian Government.
I was curious as to what is it that makes UK universities so popular with Malaysian students as compared to the US or other countries.
Of course the reason may be that some of the World's best Universities including Oxford, Cambridge and Warwick are located here. However, this does not explain the high number of Malaysian students in other Universities which are not that high ranked as well. A lot of people in Malaysia still consider British education to be the best in the World even though a number of high ranking Universities are in other countries as well.
It may have something to do with the fact that English is the language spoken here so unlike France, Spain or Germany, you don't have to learn a new language as English is compulsory in Malaysian schools.
However, that's not the only reason and I found out several other facts which contribute to the UK as a popular destination for education., some of which are quite surprising.
An important factor is that foreign students are allowed to work in the UK, limited hours during term time and full time during holidays. Student dependants are allowed to work full time, an important factor considering that the scholarships provided by the Malaysian Government are not really enough to live comfortably. On the other hand, as fas as I know, students are not allowed to work outside the campus and dependent are not allowed at all in the US. Rules in Australia are quite similar to the UK.
There are specific reasons as well. A PhD in the US apparently takes at an average of about 4-5 years to complete whereas in the UK, it's about 3.5 years. If you are in the Business and Managements stream, you also need to get really high GMAT scores in order to get in. This is not true for PhD in business and management studies here in most UK universities.
Some other factors listed by friends:
- Easier to get Halal food.
- Cheaper to fly to the UK than to the US.
- Great shopping specially on boxing day.
- I also discovered that another reason is the fact that every Malaysian student is entitled to an approved permit (AP) to import a car back into Malaysia with nominal tax rates.Normally foreign built cars are subject to a tax as high as 300%. The UK also drives on the correct side of the road (the left side and cars are right hand drive) as compared to several other countries.
So it is not only the reputation of British universities or because it is cheaper (they are not) but a combination of several factors. I am wondering whether the recent proposal to reduce the number of permitted working hours and that student dependants won't be allowed to work, would have an impact on the numbers coming here to study.
If you are a Malaysian student here in the UK, are there any more reasons you selected the UK?