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Universities in Malaysia with Pre-U (Foundation, A-level, etc) courses


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Pathway after SPM: Foundation, A-Level and other Pre-U courses in Malaysia

Upon completion of SPM (or equivalent), if students hope to join university in the near future, they must obtain a Pre-University qualification first. Several types of Pre-University courses exist, often tailored for the pathway students wish to take.

Courses such as the A-Level, IB Diploma and STPM make it possible for students to gain admission into universities and colleges worldwide. Meanwhile, the American Degree Programme (ADP), Canadian Pre-University and Australian/South Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT/SAM) train students to continue working towards specific countries.

Meanwhile, Malaysian-based Pre-University courses such as Asasi, Foundation and Matriculation allow students to venture only into local universities upon completion of the course.

Compare and contrast the various Pre-University programmes available in Malaysia, below:


The A-Level is one of the most widely acknowledged UK-based pre-university courses around the world, with the possibility of acceptance at the majority of universities, whether in Asia itself or elsewhere abroad. The A-Level is offered in colleges under either the Cambridge International Examinations board or the Edexcel board, and constitutes of two parts, the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) Level and the A2 Level.

Intakes: January, March, July
Tuition Fees: RM15,000-RM35,000
Duration: 1 ½ - 2 years
Subjects Taken: 3-4 subjects
Assessments: Exams & Coursework
Recognition: Worldwide

International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Programme

This one’s for the toughies; originally from Geneva, Switzerland, the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IB) may be a newbie but has gradually become more widely known and accepted around the world. It is, too, often referred to as quite a challenge, the system being structured in a way so as to produce students knowledgeable and experienced in all areas of the sciences and arts. A unique feature of IB is that students are also required to complete courses and assessments on two subjects: Creative, Action and Service Activities (CAS), and Theory of Knowledge (TOK).

Intakes: August
Tuition Fees: RM20,000-RM60,000
Duration: 2 years
Subjects Taken: 6
Recognition: Worldwide


For those planning on enrolling in local public universities, the Matriculation course is ideal, with the government subsidising tuition costs for students. Apart from the chosen study stream, those studying the course are required to take four other compulsory subjects: English Language, Dynamic Skills, Islamic/Moral Education and Information Technology.

Intakes: April/May Tuition Fees: Free (apart from registration fees) Duration: 1-2 years Subjects Taken: 4 Recognition: Local & Partly Overseas

STPM (Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia)

Although often looked upon as a difficult course when it comes to pre-university, Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) or Form 6 is generally a very cost-effective course, which allows students to be flexible in their future careers and eligible to enter universities worldwide while having to pay an affordable fee. Students are also given the option of taking resits of papers if they wish to improve their grades further, all of which leads to the popularity of the course in Malaysia.

Intakes: May
Tuition Fees: RM450+
Duration: 1.5 years
Subjects Taken: 5
Recognition: Worldwide


The Asasi or Foundations programme is a direct access route into university for potential students who have already decided upon their degree of choice. Purely exam-based, Asasi is available as both an open and closed programme, where an open programme would allow students entry into other public universities, while a closed programme restricts students to the university they are currently enrolled in.

Intakes: March, June
Tuition Fees: *fees may vary depending on the institution selected
Duration: 1-2 years
Subjects Taken: 1 (as per intended degree)
Recognition: Local

American Degree Programme (ADP/ADTP)

The American Degree Programme (ADP) or American Degree Transfer Programme (ADTP) is a course whereby students skip the pre-university stage and directly graduate with a degree in their chosen field after completion of this course. During their studies, students have the option of spending 1 or 2 years in Malaysia, and the rest of the ADP’s years in a university located in the USA or Canada.

Intakes: January, March, May, August
Tuition Fees: RM35,000-RM62,000 (2 years in Malaysia)
Duration: 4 years
Subjects Taken: 7
Recognition: American Universities

Institutions that offer this course: MCKL, MAHSA University and more!

Australian Matriculation/South Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT/SAM)

While especially recommended for students hoping to pursue their degrees in Australia, this programme is generally recognised in several countries around the world. The course is available by two different bodies: the Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT) administered by the Western Australian Government, while the South Australian Matriculation (SAM) comes under the South Australian government. While two different programmes, both are similar in every way, with the exception of the weight of assessments.

Intakes: January, March, July, September
Tuition Fees: RM15,000-RM27,000
Duration: 1 year
Subjects Taken: 5
Recognition: Worldwide

Institutions that offer this course: INTI International University, MCKL, Taylor’s College and more!

Canadian Pre-University

Also known as the Ontario Secondary School Diploma, the Canadian Pre-University (CPU) course allows students to venture to countries worldwide instead of just Canadian universities for their degrees. Along with their studies, students of CPU are also required to finish a specific number of hours of Community Service. The programme focuses much on the real world and practical skills as well, through assessments which include presentations and projects, among others.

Intakes: January, March, September/October
Tuition Fees: RM25,000-RM32,000
Duration: 1-1.5 years
Subjects Taken: 6
Recognition: Worldwide

Institutions that offer this course: Taylor’s College, President College and more!

Foundation courses

A Foundation course is commonly taken up by students who are already decided on their intended career path, making the course inherently specific and tailored to fit the students’ future degree’s curriculums, essentially equipping students with a foundation for their degree. A Foundation course is also the fastest track to get you enrolled in a university.

Intakes: January, March/May, July/August/September
Tuition Fees: RM15,000-RM25,000
Duration: 9-12 months
Subjects Taken: 1 (stream)
Recognition: Limited universities locally & abroad

Institutions that offer this course: MSU, Curtin University, Manipal International University and more!

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