Best universities in Malaysia

Explore the best universities in Malaysia, based on data collected by Times Higher Education

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November 2 2020
Best universities in Malaysia


Malaysia is a country in South East Asia known for its stunning natural beauty and diverse population.

Made up of two main land masses, the Malaysian Peninsula and Malaysian Borneo, the country is known equally for its cosmopolitan capital and its wildlife-rich rainforests. The jungles of Borneo are home to over 1,000 species of animals, many of which are endangered. These include orangutans, clouded leopards and pygmy elephants.

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By contrast, Kuala Lumpur – the nation’s capital – is a bustling metropolis, often used as a stepping stone to many other major South Asian destinations. Featuring the iconic Petronas Towers, the city’s impressive skyline is just one of KL’s many attractions. ​

Others include a canopy walkway 100ft in the air in the heart of the city, as well as the Batu Cave Temple, the stunning National Mosque and a host of museums.

Street food is incredibly popular and you can expect a varied cuisine with Indian, Chinese and Malay influences.

Among all of this are some outstanding universities, which we have listed below, based on data collected for the THE World University Rankings 2021

1. University of Malaya

The University of Malaya, a public research university in Kuala Lumpur, is Malaysia’s oldest university, founded in 1905.

Initially established to cover the shortage of doctors in the country, the university has maintained its position as a leading medical school.

It also offers bachelors degrees right through to doctoral qualifications across a range of other disciplines including economics, law, engineering, accountancy, linguistics and education.  

The university also partners with several institutions across the globe, with links to Australia, France, Japan and the UK.

2. Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)​ 

Situated across two campuses in Kuala Lumpur, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) is Malaysia’s second best university.

Established as a not-for-profit university in 2002, the initial intake was just 411 students. This has now risen to 23,000 students, who can choose from more than 110 academic programmes of study. When the university first started there were just eight degree programmes. 

UTAR is made up of nine faculties, three academic institutes, three academic centres and 32 research centres. ​

There are 56 registered student societies at the university including the yoga society, the international friendship society, the robotics society, the board games club, the taekwondo club and the first aid society among others.  

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You can also choose from a range of other universities in Malaysia.

Institutions with a focus on energy include Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN).

Away from Kuala Lumpur, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) is located on the northwest coast of stunning Borneo.

The Universiti Teknologi MARA (UITM) is the best of both worlds, with campuses in each part of Malaysia. ​

The top universities in Malaysia 2021

Click on each institution to see its full World University Rankings 2021 results 

 World University Rank 2021  Malaysia Rank 2021 University  City/area 
 301–350  1 University of Malaya  Kuala Lumpur 
 501–600  2 Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR)  Petaling Jaya 
 601–800  =3 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia  Selangor 
 601–800  =3 Universiti Putra Malaysia  Selangor 
 601–800  =3 Universiti Sains Malaysia  Pulau Pinang 
 601–800  =3 Universiti Teknologi Malaysia  Johor 
 601–800  =3 Universiti Teknologi Petronas  Seri Iskandar 
 601–800  =3 Universiti Utara Malaysia  Kedah Darul Aman 
 801–1000  9 Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN)  Selangor 
 1001+  =10 Universiti Kuala Lumpur  Kuala Lumpur 
 1001+  =10 Universiti Malaysia Perlis  Arau 
 1001+  =10 Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS)  Sarawak 
 1001+  =10 Multimedia University  Cyberjaya 
 1001+  =10 Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka  Melaka 
 1001+  =10 Universiti Teknologi MARA  Selangor 

Read more: Best universities in Asia

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