Education and international schools in Malaysia

Malaysia has 171 English-medium international schools and is set to open more. Sami Yosef, head of Asia Research at ISC Research, explains how the country plans to meet demand for international school places.

Education and schools in Malaysia

The Alice Smith School, Kuala Lumpur

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The international-schools market in Malaysia is going through a major transformation. As part of its aim to create a high-income nation by 2020, the Malaysian government is seeking to attract skilled expatriates. It considers the provision of good international schools a vital element in achieving this aim.

Malaysia increasingly drawing expatriates

An increasing number of multinational companies now based in Malaysia, including Nestlé, Hewlett Packard and KPMG, bring in a huge number of expatriates to fill senior-level positions, along with their families. With them come high expectations of schooling, so demand for the best international schools is intense. However, the country has experienced some expatriate departures of late, mainly from within the oil and gas industry. This has created availability of places at some premium international schools.School search and education advice - connect with our in-country expertsIncreasing numbers of local Malaysian children are now attending the country’s international schools. In 2012, Malaysia’s government removed a 40 per cent limit that had restricted many local children. This change in policy, as well as other government regulations (such as the requirement for Malaysian national schools to deliver maths and science in Bahasa Malaysia), has paved the way for a substantial increase in demand from local students enrolling at international schools.
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Malaysia’s international-schools demographic

These factors have resulted in a major change in the size and demographic of Malaysia’s international-schools market. According to ISC Research's Market Intelligence Report for Malaysia, the total number of English-medium international schools in the country has increased by 75 per cent since 2012,
and student enrolment has increased by 87 per cent.The greatest influence on change has been from Malaysian students. Approximately 50 per cent of all international-school students in Malaysia are now locals.
For this reason, several schools are expanding their campuses to respond to the demand, and more schools are opening.The school is set to open its new Ampang Hilir campus in August 2018. Included in the complex will be a purpose-built 650-seat theatre, a concert hall, and an atrium amphitheatre. There are also plans for a black-box theatre. The facility has been designed to achieve Platinum Level Green Building Index (GBI) designation. ISKL will be the first school in Malaysia to achieve such a status for environmentally sustainable concepts.

Education hubs

Kuala Lumpur is the base for Education City, one of Malaysia’s two education hubs. The second hub, EduCity, is located in Iskandar. Both will provide high-quality, internationally oriented education for all ages, including a selection of universities.EduCity is home to Newcastle University Medical Malaysia, the University of Southampton Malaysia, the University of Reading Malaysia, Marlborough College Malaysia, the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology, Raffles University Iskandar, and Raffles American School. Education City includes Epsom College in Malaysia and Universiti Sains Malaysia Global Campus.The education hubs have been established not only to attract more skilled expatriates to the country, but also to increase options for local citizens. The intention is to reduce emigration by Malaysians who, until recently, have been moving overseas for an improved standard of education. 
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