Most Popular UK Universities Among Malaysian Students
An Exclusive Report By Britannia StudyLink Malaysia
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Most Popular UK Universities Among Malaysian Students By UK University Ranking
We’ve put together the league table below that lists the top 30 UK universities by ranking along with its total Malaysian student population and its latest rankings in the UK.
Data on the Malaysian student population used in our league table above are sourced from HESA, the Higher Education Statistics Agency. University rankings are based on the Complete University Guide’s league tables.
Source: HESA, Complete University Guide
|University||UK Ranking||TEF Rating||Malaysian Students|
|University of Oxford||1||Gold||105|
|University of Cambridge||2||Gold||190|
|London School of Economics and Poli...||3||Bronze||352|
|University of St Andrews||4||Gold||100|
|Imperial College London||5||Gold||450|
|UCL (University College London)||8||Silver||610|
|University of Warwick||9||Silver||365|
|University of Bath||10||Gold||235|
|University of Edinburgh||12||N/A||375|
|University of Exeter||13||Gold||174|
|University of Manchester||13||Silver||745|
|University of Southampton||15||Silver||340|
|University of Glasgow||16||N/A||175|
|University of Bristol||17||Silver||380|
|University of York||18||Gold||40|
|University of Birmingham||19||Gold||180|
|University of Leeds||20||Gold||280|
|King's College London, University o...||21||Silver||275|
|University of East Anglia UEA||22||Gold||125|
|University of Nottingham||24||Gold||425|
|University of Sheffield||26||Silver||420|
|University of Essex||27||Gold||200|
|University of Dundee||28||Gold||110|
|University of Strathclyde||30||-||75|
|University of Liverpool||30||Bronze||215|
League Table Breakdown
According to UCAS, 89.8% of Malaysian students apply to higher tariff providers, which means that Malaysian applicants have a preference for universities that require higher UCAS Tariff points which is a numerical value assigned to your grades. In other words, most Malaysian applicants tend to apply to universities that have higher entry requirements. For this reason, we have selected the top 30 ranked universities for our league table.
We also used the most recent data available about each university’s total Malaysian student population. However, not all universities will include student population by country in its annual student diversity reports. The number of Malaysian students admitted to UK universities might differ from year to year, so to ensure consistency and to make a fair comparison, we used student population figures from 2018/2019 by HESA for all universities in our league table.
The Malaysian student population numbers refer to all students currently enrolled in the university which includes new, returning, and postgraduate students.
Other UK Universities Popular Among Malaysians
There are some other UK universities that are notably popular among Malaysian students. The following table displays the 2018/2019 figures for enrolled Malaysians in the following universities.
|University||UK Ranking||TEF Rating||Malaysian Students|
|University of Northumbria at Newcastle||52||Silver||280|
|City, University of London||57||Silver||350|
|University of Hertfordshire||81||Gold||235|
Trend of Malaysian Student Enrolment in Top UK Universities
The table below shows a detailed breakdown of Malaysian students enrolled in the top 30 UK universities over a four-year period.
|University of Cambridge||185||190||185||190|
|University of Oxford||110||110||110||105|
|University of St Andrews||100||95||100||100|
|London School of Economics and Poli...||345||340||360||352|
|Imperial College London||540||520||475||450|
|University of Bath||340||260||255||235|
|UCL (University College London)||625||625||630||610|
|University of Warwick||490||460||435||365|
|University of Exeter||160||160||170||174|
|University of Birmingham||265||240||190||180|
|University of Bristol||330||335||335||380|
|University of Edinburgh||415||405||395||375|
|University of Leeds||385||375||330||280|
|University of Southampton||500||455||410||340|
|University of Manchester||1,050||1,015||900||745|
|University of Glasgow||195||180||185||175|
|King's College London, University o...||270||280||285||275|
|University of Nottingham||580||560||500||425|
|University of York||120||90||55||40|
|Royal Holloway, University of Londo...||50||60||55||45|
|University of East Anglia UEA||115||130||145||125|
|University of Aberdeen||130||120||90||65|
|Queen's University Belfast||385||400||355||355|
|University of Sheffield||635||610||525||420|
|Total Students Enrolled (Top 30)||9725||9375||8740||7996|
The following graph shows the number of students enrolled in UK universities in the past four years.
Data on the Malaysian student population used in our table and graph above are sourced from HESA, the Higher Education Statistics Agency.
Key Facts - Malaysians in UK Universities
The overall trend shows that UK universities are declining in popularity among Malaysian students. Despite this, the number of Malaysians in the top 30 UK universities account for over half of all Malaysian students in UK universities.
Among the top-ranked universities in the UK, the most popular university among Malaysians is the University of Manchester with 745 Malaysian students enrolled in the university. The second-most popular university among Malaysians is University College London, which has 610 Malaysian students. Other universities that are popular among Malaysians are Imperial College London, Cardiff University, the University of Nottingham, and the University of Sheffield which each have over 400 Malaysian students.
All of these six most popular universities are also part of the Russell Group, which is a collective of research-intensive UK universities. Russell Group Universities are popular among applicants as the universities in the group have garnered a great reputation for its teaching standards and research quality.
The University of Cambridge has 190 Malaysian students while the University of Oxford has 105 Malaysian students. The top UK universities that have the least Malaysian students are the University of York and Royal Holloway, University of London with around 40 enrolled Malaysian students in each university.
Some universities that are not among the top 30 universities are also quite popular with Malaysian students. Among these few universities, the University of the West of England Bristol (UWE Bristol) is the third-most popular university among Malaysians, with 460 Malaysian students enrolled.
Britannia StudyLink’s Analysis of Malaysians in UK Universities
There are a number of factors that could explain some of these patterns and the trend of declining popularity of UK universities among Malaysians.
First, let’s consider the factors that contribute to the popularity of some UK universities. The University of Manchester is consistently the most popular university among Malaysian students. We think this may be due to the university having a great reputation for its quality of education, being a Russell Group University. Aside from that, the city was made popular by the football team Manchester United. Similarly, UCL is located in a popular city and it is among the world’s top universities. This shows that overseas applicants may tend to choose top universities that are located in cities that they may be familiar with.
Some specific universities are popular due to its location, namely universities located in London and Bristol. Imperial College London, UCL, and City, University of London, are popular with Malaysian students and these universities are located in London. Imperial and UCL are top universities which explains its popularity. It is likely that students enrol at City, University of London due to its location and lower entry requirements compared to other universities in London.
Bristol is also a popular destination for Malaysian students. Compared to London and Manchester, Bristol is a less densely populated city with a population of around 430,000 people. UWE Bristol is the third-most popular university among Malaysians (460 students) while the University of Bristol has 380 Malaysian students. Bristol has been rated numerous times as the most liveable city in the UK – Bristol is walkable, has a vibrant youth culture, and is located just 90 minutes away from London. These factors make for a great experience for overseas students.
Overall, we could see that the most popular cities among Malaysian students are Manchester, London, and Bristol. Our analysis suggests that Malaysian students have a tendency to choose universities located in cities they are familiar with.
The overall decline in popularity of UK universities among Malaysian students may be largely due to stringent immigration policies made in 2012 that have affected work opportunities for international graduates. At the time, international students were only allowed to stay in the UK for up to four months after graduation. As many students choose to study in the UK to stay on and work after graduation, it’s likely that this policy influenced many Malaysians to opt to study in other countries instead. The policy was later revised in 2019 to allow international graduates to stay up to two years for work after graduation.
Another factor that may explain the lower number of Malaysian students in UK universities is the increased tuition fees and living costs in the UK. New laws have permitted universities to increase tuition fees annually in line with inflation rates after 2020. As a result, Malaysians are thinking twice about studying there.
UK University Entry Requirements for Malaysians
Most universities vary greatly in terms of entry requirements and acceptance rates. Generally speaking, top-ranked universities and Russell Group Universities will have higher entry requirements compared to most other UK universities. The entry requirements for UK universities also vary depending on the course you’re applying for. Any medical programmes and top-ranked universities will have higher requirements compared to most other UK universities.
There are also other non-academic entry requirements for Malaysians applying to UK universities. Depending on your qualifications, you may be required to take an English proficiency test such as IELTS or TOEFL. While a few UK universities may accept 1119, most UK universities will not recognise your 1119 grades as an exemption for English proficiency tests. The UCAS application process also requires a written personal statement and you may be required to provide additional documents for your visa application.
Here is a list of entry requirements that a Malaysian will need to fulfil before being accepted at a UK university:
- English Language Test requirement – such as IELTS or TOEFL.
- Criminal records declaration (DBS/Disclosure Scotland for Scottish Universities)
- Health checks.
- Entrance interviews.
- Personal statement. This is a supporting document and part of your application to a UK university. Usually, you will write about what you hope to achieve studying at the course, what you plan to do after graduating and why you are applying for this specific university.
Frequently Asked Questions
Among the top 30 ranked UK universities, the University of Manchester has the most Malaysian students, with 745 enrolled students in the university.
Aside from having the necessary academic qualifications equivalent to the O-Levels or A-Levels, you may be required to take an English proficiency test. You may also have to submit a personal statement, complete interviews, and health checks before enrolling.
The University of Cambridge has 190 Malaysian students while the University of Oxford has 105 Malaysian students.
The total number of Malaysian students enrolled in the top 30 UK universities are 7,781 students for the year 2018/2019.
Applications for Oxford, Cambridge, and some courses such as Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine have a 15 October deadline. The UCAS deadline for most other subjects is 15 January in the year of admission.
Based on our observations, the overall trend shows that UK universities are declining in popularity among Malaysian students which could be attributed to changes in immigration policies and rising tuition fees. Despite this, the top 30 UK universities are still largely popular among Malaysians as these universities attract over 50% of all Malaysian students in the country. Malaysian students also tend to choose universities in Manchester, Bristol, and London as their top destinations to study.
Bristol has marketed its city effectively as the ideal destination for international students – the city has been recognised as one of the most liveable cities in the UK and it boasts a city that is pedestrian-friendly and walkable. Perhaps other universities that wish to attract international students could look at Bristol as a good case example.
Overall, despite the downward trend, we believe the quality of education offered by UK universities will always attract Malaysian students. With the recent changes to the UK immigration policies which now allow foreign graduates to stay in the UK for up to two years, it remains to be seen how this will affect enrolment numbers from Malaysian and international students.