The Education National Key Economic Area (NKEA) is focused on four prioritised segments based on existing market share and potential for future growth:
Early childcare and education (ECCE),
Basic education (primary and secondary),
Technical and vocational education training (TVET), and
Tertiary education (both domestic and international students).
Malaysia’s private education sector has made major contributions in all segments by complementing the Government’s efforts in providing access to quality education to the people.
The early childcare market (birth to four years) is largely untapped with a low four percent enrolment rate. Although private sector participation in pre-school education (five to six years) has been more significant, there is increased demand for better quality preschool education.
Meanwhile, enrolment in international schools has been steadily increasing since 2006, when the Government liberalised the intake of Malaysian students. Malaysians now make up nearly 56 per cent of students enrolled in international schools.
On the tertiary front, about 46 per cent of students pursuing tertiary education are enrolled in private higher education institutions. Malaysia’s aspiration to be a major destination for international students is enhanced by broad offerings of programmes and the establishment of branch campuses by internationally recognized institutions such as Newcastle University, Swinburne University, Curtin University, Monash University and Nottingham University, to name a few.
With its world-class education system and strong international reputations, Malaysia is an increasingly popular study destination for international students interested in education abroad.
TVET has been identified as a critical enabler for the success of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), with nearly one million jobs requiring vocational certificates or diplomas by 2020.
Several initiatives have been introduced to raise the quality of TVET offerings and to ensure the programmes are in line with industry needs and requirements. Additional funds have been allocated to the Skills Development Fund (Perbadanan Tabung Pembangunan Kemahiran – PTPK), giving more students the opportunity to undertake TVET programmes in private skills training institutes.
As of 30 April 2017, there are 20 public and 46 private universities, 30 university colleges, 9 branch campuses and 398 private colleges that offer wide range of disciplines at every level of education including short-term and professional courses certificate, diploma, degree, master degree and PHD qualifications.
The private sector has also set up educational institutions to supplement the government's efforts to generate a larger pool of professionals and semi-professionals. Among these are institutions of higher learning set up by large corporations such as Telekom Malaysia Berhad, Tenaga Nasional Berhad and Petronas which also provide degree-level courses. Various private colleges in Malaysia offer degree programmes on a twinning basis with overseas institutions of higher learning, while foreign universities have set up branch campuses in the country.