This is a reference guide for international students and visitors from abroad. The information it contains will help you through the transition from your country to Malaysia, and by setting out the opportunities and facilities available at the University of Malaya, should make your stay here both successful and enjoyable.
If you have any queries we will be pleased to help in order to make your stay at the University of Malaya productive and enjoyable. You can also contact the University of Malaya’s International Student Centre.
Obtaining Permission to enter Malaysia
Students from abroad undertaking a full-time course of study are welcome to enter Malaysia and remain for the period of their studies on the basis that they are expected to leave Malaysia when their studies are completed. Prospective students should apply to the Malaysian Embassy, Consulate or High Commission abroad in order to obtain entry clearance before travelling to Malaysia. For the location of the Malaysian foreign mission please visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Prospective students should not enter Malaysia as visitors and then attempt to change their status to that of a student.
Students attending the University are expected to provide a financial guarantee to confirm that they are able to meet the cost of the fees and maintenance for the duration of their course. Grants and scholarships are difficult to obtain in Malaysia.
It is of the utmost importance to you that you consider carefully the financial implications of studying in Malaysia so that you do not suffer unnecessary hardship or anxiety.
At present, the estimated cost of living expenses for a single student is approximately USD300-350 per month (the inflation rate for Malaysia is less than 4% per year). This is expected to cover living expenses, accommodation, clothing and study materials such as books and stationaries. Academic fees are not included in this cost.
If the Government of your country has restrictions on the amount of money you are allowed to take out of the country, you will need to make the necessary arrangements in good time to ensure that the money is available for transfer to Malaysia before your departure.
Transferring Money to Malaysia
There are several methods of transferring your money, and you may wish to discuss convenience and cost with your own bank either at home or in Malaysia before deciding which system to use. The money must be deposited in the remitting bank in your home country or placed directly in the appropriate central bank before any currency transactions can take place. Note that bank accounts are only in Ringgit Malaysia (RM) – there is no US dollar account available.
These are instructions from your home bank to credit a bank in Malaysia with a specified amount of money in sterling or another currency. You can use that amount to open a bank account. This is a reliable but often slow form of transfer.
Mail or Telex Transfer
Money is transferred between banks, the telex system being safer and quicker but more expensive. You will also be able to transfer money from your home country through international money transfer services like MoneyGram and Western Union.
You will need some money to cover your expenses for the first few days, so you are advised to bring some cash with you.
In Malaysia, most retailers, petrol stations, fast-food establishments and restaurants accept credit cards as a form of transaction. The most common credit cards accepted are Visa and Master Card, some of them do accept American Express. It is better to ask the establishment before you proceed with any form of transaction, as some may impose an additional cost or minimal amount spent before accepting credit card.
e-wallet / e-cash
The e-wallet or e-cash scene in Malaysia is still new. However, many major players are now in the market offering their services. Some of the e-wallet
Travel Abroad and re-admission
Before travelling abroad to any country other than your own, you should check the visa requirements of countries you intend to visit. Also, check to ensure that neither your passport nor leave to remain in Malaysia will expire while you are away. It is always a good idea to carry documents to show the immigration officer on your return to Malaysia with evidence that you are a full-time student with adequate financial support.
Extending leave to remain in Malaysia
Many students will be granted leave to remain in Malaysia for the duration of their course; however, some students will be granted leave to remain for shorter periods. If you require staying longer than the time limit you have been given, you must apply to the Immigration Department for an extension of stay before the expiry date stamped in your passport. Otherwise, you may have some difficulty in obtaining an extension, and you could lose your right of appeal if your application is refused.
Do not attempt to smuggle drugs or any animal into Malaysia. Never carry bags through Customs for someone else. Be warned that Malaysia has very severe punishment for drugs trafficking which carries a mandatory death sentence.
From the airport, the least expensive way to KL is to use the SkyBus, which will take you to KL Sentral Station for less than RM10.00. The easiest but not the least expensive way to Kuala Lumpur is to use a taxi or ride-sharing services. Purchase a fixed rate taxi coupon in the Terminal and board the taxi at the designated taxi area. Avoid touts who may be present to tempt you to use their ‘cheaper’ taxis. UBER and GRAB are the two ride-sharing services operating in Malaysia.
The Express Rail Link (ERL) provides the fastest service which will take you 28 minutes from KLIA to the KL Sentral Station in the city. Current charges is RM55.00 one-way for adults.
When you first arrive in the country, you will need temporary accommodation until you have settled in. Other hotels are also available outside the University to suit various needs and budgets. You can browse the following website for more information: www.booking.com, www.agoda.com, www.expedia.com or www.airbnb.com.
Accommodation outside the campus is variable in quality, distance and cost. Rents vary between RM 700 and RM 1,500 per month for a two or three bedroom property. In addition to rent, which is normally paid monthly in advance, a deposit (equal to three months’ rent) will be required; water and electricity will be charged separately. You may need to provide your own bed linen and cooking utensils.
The administration officer at the Institute of Postgraduate Studies (IPS) will be able to assist with your accommodation needs. It will be advantageous to do so early as you will be competing with other students for limited places. University accommodation in the form of residential colleges, though severely limited, may be available. To apply, you should include supporting letters from the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine.
The University of Malaya International House is one of the off-campus accommodation options available to students especially international students.
- Fully furnished (beds, cupboards, sofa, dining table & chairs, study tables)
- Fully air-conditioned (4 units)
- Bedrooms + 1 bathroom (with water heater)
- Kitchen (with gas hob and smoke extractor)
- Washing machine and dryer
- Shoe rack
- ASTRO point (subscribtion needed)
- Telephone/ Internet line (subscribtion needed)
Location and Accessibility
- Strategically located from university, commercial and shopping areas
- University shuttle service & public transportation route
- Wet market, farmers’ market (every Thursday morning) and night market (Every Tuesday)
- Various types of food available near the complex
First, is your grant/stipend adequate to support both yourself and your family?
Too many students in the past have tried unsuccessfully to budget for a family on a single person’s allowance. You will need to be certain that you have additional funding to provide for all the extra financial demands that an attendant family will bring, i.e., accommodation, food, clothing, education for children, travel and entertainment.
The University has a small amount of accommodation available for students accompanied by their families, the International House which is situated about 3 Km from the main campus is a good option. You should not assume that it will be easy to find a house to rent and for this reason you are strongly advised not to bring your family with you, nor to make arrangements for them to travel until you are certain that they will have somewhere to live. You will also have to ponder about the medical services for your family, as the University only provides limited free services for registered students.
As a registered student at the University, you are covered by the medical services provided at the Students Health Clinic in the University. Other Medical services are also available at University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), private hospitals, private clinics, Government Hospitals and Government Clinics. These services are provided for a fee, and the charges depend on the type of medical service and also the location of the services. Students should consult the Student Health Clinic in the first instance except for emergencies. A referral letter is useful to seek treatment at the UMMC.
Travelling by LRT
There is a regular bus service which connects the University campus with the rest of the city throughout the day, but note that bus services may be less frequent during the evenings, on Sundays and public holidays. The RapidKL bus No. T789 connects the University with the KL Gateway Universiti LRT Station (Kelana Jaya Line). The Kelana Jaya Line will connect you to KL Sentral station where there is connections for KTM Kommuter, KL Monorail and the KTM inter-city rail service and the Masjid Jamek LRT Station where you’ll be able to transfer to the other LRT line (Ampang & Sri Petaling Line).
The shorter walk to the Department is by taking the RapidKL bus No. T790 from the KL Gateway Universiti LRT Station (Kelana Jaya Line). You will need to stop at the MASHA University bus station and follow the walking path (red-line) to the Department.
Travelling by MRT
If you decide to travel by the Sungai Buluh-Kajang MRT line, stop at the Phelio Damansara Station, take the T815 feeder bus and stop at the MASHA University bus station. You need only to follow the walking path (red line) to the Department.
Travelling by Taxis or Ride-hailing services
You may also travel to the Department by taking either taxis or ride-hailing services. There are currently two main ride-hailing services in Malaysia; i.e., Grab and Uber. When travelling by taxis or ride-hailing services, you should stop at the main entrance of the Faculty of Medicine.
Malaysia Airlines is the flagship carrier of the country and it provides extensive domestic and international networks. While in Malaysia, you may opt for AirAsia the no-frills airline, which also flies to some regional destinations. The cheaper through a much slower way to see the country is to use Malaysian Railways (KTM). This would also be better, as you will be able to enjoy the countryside scenery along the way.
The average Malaysian should be able to tell you where their favourite chicken rice, char kuey teow, roti canai, nasi lemak or asam laksa stall is situated. Malay and Indian food are hot and spicy while Chinese food is more delicate. As these foods are probably alien to you, do try them out when you come to Malaysia.
As diversity is the name of the game, variety is the spice of life with foods from all over the world available within a stone’s throw. Malaysians are not a fussy lot when it comes to food so there are roadside stalls, 5-star restaurants, and everything else that comes in between.
Telephone kiosks are to be found at all airports, seaports, railway and bus stations, post offices and in the streets. Instructions for use are given inside the kiosks. Public payphones can be of different types, accepting coins, phone cards and, in some cases, credit cards. Phonecards may be purchased from convenient stalls. The long-distance code for Malaysia is 60. International Direct Dialling (IDD) is available throughout Malaysia. Full details of dialling codes are given in the Phone Book. Dial 103 if you need assistance from the Operator. Charges will vary according to distance, length of the call and the time of day when the call is made.
Mobile phone services are available in all cities, towns and on highways. The main mobile phone providers are Celcom, Maxis and Digi. Foreigners can also purchase mobile phones and pre-paid phone cards to make local or international calls. All pre-paid phone users must register their number with the provider before they can make phone calls, this can usually be done during the time of the purchase of the phone card and they will need your passport.
International calls can be made through any mobile phones with sufficient credits. Long distance calls are usually cheaper during off-peak hours (the actual hours depends on the country you wish to call) and on the weekends. But the cheapest way to call overseas is through VOIP (Voice over IP), the phone cards for which are available easily from convenient stalls and mobile telephone stalls. The almost free way to call overseas and locally is through internet telephony, e.g., Facetime, Skype, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messanger.
To get directory information or an operator, dial ‘103’ through the Telekom landline. The country code for calling into Malaysia is ’60’ followed by the city code (‘3′ for Kuala Lumpur / Petaling Jaya) and the phone numbers (7 or 8-digit number). An outgoing call from Malaysia can be initiated by first dialing ’00’ followed by the country code, then the area code and last the telephone number required.
Mail is delivered daily, Mondays through Saturdays. Letters overseas may take anywhere from 1 to 2 weeks to arrive, depending on where they go. A postcard sent internationally, with the exception of nearby Asian countries, will cost RM 1.00. Packages sent overseas can be brought to any post office to be weighed and sent.
All phone, electricity, and water bills can be paid at the post office. The post office also offers telegram, telex, and fax services.
You can also use other local or international courier services for sending of mail and packages.
As a result of the different races gathered in this country, many different languages are spoken. Bahasa Malaysia (the Malay language) is the predominant language but English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Tamil and Hindi are also widely spoken. Also peculiar to Malaysians is “Manglish” or Malaysian English – a curious combination of all the different languages spoken in Malaysia and English.
Just as there are many peoples and languages, different religions are practised in Malaysia. The official religion is Islam but there are many Christian and Catholic churches, Buddhist and Hindu temples in addition to the mosques.
Generally, Malaysians are shy but friendly, tolerant and understanding, and have a long tradition of welcoming visitors from overseas. Developing close relationships may take some effort; Malaysians are usually quite willing to talk casually, but that does not imply a firm commitment to friendship. Women are independent and accustomed to entering public places unaccompanied. Men and women mix easily, although this does not necessarily imply a willingness to enter into a deeper relationship.
If you are invited to someone’s home it is usual (but not essential) to take a small gift such as chocolates or flowers or, even better, a souvenir from your own country. Try to arrive on time, as it is considered rude to be late, particularly if a meal is served. If you are unexpectedly delayed or are unable to attend be sure to let the host know. R.S.V.P. on a written invitation means that you are expected to reply stating whether or not you will be attending the function.
Smoking is banned in theatres, in most public buildings and public transport. Before smoking in public, it is advisable to check that smoking is permitted and that your companions do not object.
The following tips are to help you get through the psychological and emotional aspects of culture shock.
- Have a positive attitude and be open-minded
- Be curious and have a strong sense of humour
- Have strong self-esteem and be able to cope with failure
- Be flexible and adaptable
- Take advantage of the services the University offers.
- Exercise and keep active.
Remember that all international students, whether in Malaysia or elsewhere, should share what they are going through. Living in a foreign country will open new doors, introduce new ways of thinking, and provide the opportunity to make friends from all walks of life.