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Development of Graduate Education in Malaysia:
Prospects for Internationalization

By Dr. Ahmad Mahdzan Ayob and Dr. Noran Fauziah Yaakub
Universiti Utara Malaysia


Graduate student enrollment in the early years of graduate education in Malaysia was made up mainly of Malaysians and they were few in number. Their number grew gradually as more graduate schools were set up, but still, with few international students. Lately, however, the scenario has changed. The early groups of international graduate students to arrive in Malaysian came from neighboring countries less developed than Malaysia. In the recent past, however, more international students were arriving from further afield - from countries on the Indian subcontinent, the Middle-East, and even some African countries. This paper traces the development of graduate education in Malaysia, describes organization of graduate schools, elucidates the structure of graduate degree programs, delves into aspects of quality control, explores efforts made to attract participation of international students, and takes a peek at what international students have to say about doing graduate training in Malaysia.


University education has been around in Malaysia since 1959, although access to it was somewhat limited to those who had an English medium education at secondary school level. This has changed-quite gradually at first but rather drastically in the last five years, especially with the establishment of more public universities and, lately, private ones as well.1 While emphasizing on the need to train more skilled manpower at the baccalaureate degree level, many of the more established public universities in the country were steadily building up their capacity to provide training at the postgraduate level. These universities strive aggressively to upgrade their teaching staff with advanced training beyond the Master's degree to the Ph.D. qualification. Once they have sufficient number of Ph.D. holders, postgraduate2 programs gained momentum and today all Malaysian public universities offer these programs.

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1 The public universities in Malaysia are the University of Malaya (UM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM), Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM), International Islamic University of Malaysia (IIUM), Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS), Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) and Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI). They are listed according to date of formation.

2 The term 'postgraduate centre' is used in most Commonwealth universities, whereas 'graduate school' is mostly used in the USA. Malaysian universities appear to be divided in their preferences. This article adopts the latter version for simplicity.


Papers by Ahmad Mahdzan (PhD) and Noran Fauziah (PhD)

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Bullying among Malaysian Elementary School Children

Procrastination Among Students in Institutes of Higher Learning: Challenges for K-Economy

Preferences For Outdoor Recreation: The Case Of Pulau Payar Visitors

Development of Graduate Education in Malaysia: Prospects for Internationalization

Higher Education and Socioeconomic Development in Malaysia: A Human Resource Development Perspective

Business Of Higher Education In Malaysia: Development And Prospects In The New Millennium

Papers by Farah Mahdzan
(BBA in MIS, Ohio U., 2001)

Descriptive Study of Phonological Differences between Bahasa Malaysia and Bahasa Indonesia

Asian Americans: An Analysis of Negative Stereotypical Characters in Popular Media

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