KY Lee (left) with Malaysian students at Beijing Foreign Studies University in China.

Asia News Network recently reported that institutions of higher learning in China are intensifying efforts to recruit more Malaysian and Asean students to study in the country.

It said that after 40 years of development at a fast pace, China is now a destination for foreign students.

Although Malaysia and China maintain friendly ties with close collaboration in many sectors, the number of Malaysian students studying in China is not high. The figure falls behind Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Laos.

Based on statistics from the Education Ministry of China, the number of Malaysian students in institutions of higher learning in China has increased slightly in the last two years.

PREC Edu Services Malaysian representative and consultant KY Lee said, in recent years, however, Malaysian students opting to go to China for further education have been on the uptrend.

The number of Malaysian students studying in China in 2016 was 6,880 and increased to 7,900 last year.

The close bilateral relationship between the China and Malaysia governments in the past 40 years and the accreditation of more than 800 China universities by Malaysian Qualifications Agency will encourage more Malaysian students to choose China as the preferred destination.

“Awareness and promotional programmes are in place to inform the Malaysian public that China universities offer good tertiary education conducted fully in English on par with western countries.

“Plus factors include affordable tuition fees and a cost of living substantially lower than western countries.

“To some extent, there are similarities in culture and the chance to pick up an international language while studying in China,” he said.


Most universities in China do not require students to sit an entrance exam if they have internationally recognised qualifications such as A levels, Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) or equivalent.

“In general, intakes of most of the degree programmes either in English or Chinese medium are in September each year. Only select degree programmes (bachelor’s or master’s) are offered in spring which is in February.

“Admission application usually starts in November and closes in December for the spring intake. The autumn intake in September usually starts in March and closes in July.

“It takes three weeks to a month for the university to process the application and inform the outcome,” added Lee.

Students can apply directly via the university online system and follow-up the status of the application, and if accepted, make all necessary arrangements by themselves for studies abroad in China.

However, some top universities such as Tsinghua University and Peking University sometimes do require students to sit entrance exams to determine eligibility.

Like universities around the world, those in China has adopted an international standard for recruiting international students.

For degree programmes, students must have a grade 12th qualification such as A levels, STPM, Foundation or equivalent to be eligible for a bachelor’s degree programme.

“If a student wishes to study a degree course taught in Mandarin, they must have Chinese language proficiency — Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi with at least level four or five.

“A few universities in China offer foundation programmes and upon completion, enrol in students may enrol in the degree programme at the same university or other Chinese university subject to entry requirements.”

The university selection depends on the course, medium of instruction (English or Chinese) and location preference, for example, in Beijing, Shanghai, Wuhan or Hangzhou.

“However, if students prefer to pursue English-medium degree courses, then the number of universities is limited compared with the Chinese-medium.”

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