Thursday, January 06, 2011

Why do Malaysians like to study in the UK?

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:
  1. Easier to get Halal food.
  2. Cheaper to fly to the UK than to the US.
  3. Great shopping specially on boxing day.
  4. 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?


BabyPink said...

Wow! That's interesting! I'm not Malaysian, but those reasons would be good reasons for me to actually choose UK rather than the US should I be given the opportunity to study abroad. :)

Mumbai Florist said...

Nice blog here! Also your website loads up fast! What host are you using? I wish my website loaded up as fast as yours lol.

David Greenberg said...

Do they offer the GMAT in Malaysia? I work with a New York based tutoring service and they started talking about the possibility of sending some our our highest quality New York Tutors to prepare students for American standardized tests abroad! What an exciting opportunity...

Balkis WBS said...

Hi Adam,
I have other reasons other than those specified above. Unfortunately, I would not like to share the reasons, its very personal to holder.God Willing, I am preparing my daughter to UK Uni soon too.

Adam Dilip Mutum said...

Babypink: The UK is a great place to study. Unfortunately the present Govt. is changing the rules and making foreigners feel unwelcome. Will definitely backfire on them.
Mumbai Florist: Blogger.
David: Yes, they do.
Balkis: Thanks for dropping by. That's great news.

njkian said...

There are a few good reasons to study in the UK. But as a Malaysian students studying in the US, I have to say there are a few reasons to study in the US too. Mainly,
1) Financial aid provided by US colleges
2) Flexibility in selecting majors and minors
3) Rigorous coursework
4) Diversity

Awanis A said...

As a Malaysian student who's currently studying in UK, I have to agree with you. Several other factors would be because it is much easier to get Student Visa to study in UK compared to US. Also, as a Muslim, I find the British society are quite comfortable with our religion. Out of all my British housemates, half of them are Muslims (although some of them don't look like it). Plus, Malaysian Airlines provide direct flight to London which makes it a lot easier!


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