Frequently Asked Questions - All FAQs

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1. What is the role of the Private Higher Education (PHE) Management Sector?

The Private Higher Education (PHE) Management Sector is under the Department of Higher Education, Ministry of Higher Education. This sector, formerly known as the Department of Private Higher Education, was formed in 2004. The Department of Private Higher Education was set up in 1995, an upgrade of the Schools and teachers Registration Division, Ministry of Education which started in 1961.

Led by the Deputy Director-General, this sector comprises three divisions:

  • Registration & Standards Division
  • Enforcement & Inspectorate Division
  • Governance Division
2. What are the main functions of the Private Higher Education (PHE) Management Sector?

The main functions of the PHE Management Sector are as follows:

  • To legislate, re-assess, check and establish the policy related to private higher education.
  • To process all applications related to private higher education institutions (PHEI) under the legal provision.
  • To set standards for PHEI and to ensure that the standards are adhered to.
  • To monitor and to enforce regulations related to the management of PHEI under the private higher education provision.
  • To manage the collection of all fees related to PHEI and the Department of Private Education Trustee Account.
  • To provide advice, guidance, counselling and consultation (regarding private higher education) to clients.
  • To manage the collection of data and information related to private higher education.
  • To be the referral source for matters related to private higher education in Malaysia.
3. What is the vision and mission of PHE Management Sector?

PHE Management Sector’s vision is for Private Higher Education to become the catalyst for attaining quality, competitive and world-class knowledge.

PHE Management Sector’s mission it to ensure that private higher education is of the highest quality through proper policy planning, legislation, facilitation, encouragement and excellent service in order to produce knowledgeable and ethical individuals.

This Sector has always been committed to the task of ensuring that PHEIs provide quality education to the students. It is compulsory for all courses of study to obtain Accreditation from Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and recognition from Public Service Department (PSD).

PHEIs especially at university and university college levels are encouraged to seek international recognition for some programmes that are being offered to international students.

This Sector has also witnessed the establishment of our local PHEIs overseas. The list of branch campuses of local PHEIs is as follows:

1 Al-Madinah International University (MEDIU)
  1. Yogyakarta, Indonesia
  2. Makassar, Indonesia
  3. Singapore
  4. Bangkok, Thailand
  5. Hallawy, Kuwait
  6. Madinah Al Munawwarah
  7. Marrakesh, Morocco
  8. United Kingdom
2 Limkokwing University
  1. United Kingdom
  2. Cambodia
  3. Lesotho
  4. Botswana
  5. Jakarta, Indonesia
  6. Kota Denpasar, Indonesia
3 Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology
  1. Perth, Australia
  2. Sri Lanka
  3. Haryana, India
  4. Bangalore, India
  5. Karachi, Pakistan
4 Asia e University Chennai, India
5 International University College of Technology Twintech Yaman
6 INTI International University College Fangshan, China
7 Management & Science University Bangalore, India
8 UCSI University Guishan Dhaka, Bangladesh
4. How many Private Higher Education Institutions are there in Malaysia?

The total number of PHEIs in the country as at 31 July 2010 is 445, including those with university, university college and foreign university branch campus status. The Ministry is still receiving applications for upgrading to university colleges or university status and also establishment of foreign university branch campuses in Malaysia as well as for the establishment of colleges.


1. If an existing PHEI operator wishes to set up a branch, what are the procedures?

The operators must apply for the setting up of a new higher education institution.

2.Can an existing PHEI operator run similarly approved courses in all its branches?

No. Each branch must apply for approval to run its own courses.

3. Is it compulsory for all courses which have been approved by the Ministry of Higher Education to obtain accreditation from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA)?

Yes, it is compulsory for all courses to obtain accreditation from MQA before students are conferred the degrees.

4. What are the steps involved in setting up a PHEI?
5. What are the procedures involved in the changing of premise?

Applicants need to complete the form detailing the change of premise and remit the amount required to PHE Management Sector. PHE Management Sector will then inspect the new premise.

6. Who can be the Chief Executive Officer of a PHEI?

The candidate who aspires to be the Chief Executive Officer should have the necessary academic qualifications with relevant experience in the field of education. He should not have contravened the constitution and federal laws.

7. Can a PHEI which has obtained approval make any changes to its course structure?

It may do so if the changes are in line with its field, follows the current needs and demands and gets the recommendation from MQA.

8. Are PHEIs’ facilities evaluated too?

MQA assesses all facilities offered by PHEIs especially for those courses of study for which accreditation have been applied for.

9. What should a PHEI do if its application for approval has been refused by the Ministry of Higher Education?

The PHEI can make a fresh application after it has rectified the problems in the earlier refusal.

10. Can a PHEI student apply for loans from the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN)?

Yes, subject to PTPTN rules and regulations.

11. What does Short Courses mean?

Short courses refer to courses of study with less than 20 credit hours and the duration of the course is less than 16 weeks where students are awarded a Certificate of Attendance.

12. What is the minimum number of credit hours determined by MQA?

The minimum number of credit hours (including compulsory subjects) required to be met before certificates, diplomas or degrees can be awarded is:

Course of Study (Level)Minimum Number of Credit Hours
Degree 120 credit hours
Diploma 90 credit hours
Certificate 60 credit hours
13. How does MQA make an assessment on a PHEI which has branches?

MQA conducts its assessment based on location. Each branch will have to submit separate applications for separate assessment process.

14. What is MQA’s cause of action against a PHEI that has failed MQA’s Accreditation monitoring?

Accreditation will be revoked.

1. Can expatriates’ teaching pass be transferable from institution A to institution B?

According to the Department of Immigration Malaysia, expatriates with teaching passes should return to their countries of origin after their passes have expired and remain there for a period of six months before reapplying to teach in another institute. This is to prevent ‘job-hopping’ amongst expatriates and to safeguard the interests of local professionals.

2. Do expatriates require a teaching permit?

Yes, all local and foreign lecturers require a teaching permit according to Act 555.

3. Can a teaching pass be extended?

Yes, as long as there is an accompanying letter from a related body like the Department of Immigration.

4. Can a course be taught in English?

Yes, once approval is obtained from the Ministry of Higher Education.

5. My institution uses only part-time teacher. What is MQA’s stand on this matter?

MQA does not allow PHEIs to use part-time teachers fully as they are regarded as temporary teachers. PHEIs need to have at least 60% permanent teachers.

6. Who is defined as a permanent teacher?

A permanent teacher is a teacher who has been appointed on a permanent basis or who has at least a one year contract and is to have full time responsibilities at the PHEI.

7. Are PHEI teachers required to obtain qualifications from an institution of higher education recognized by the government?

Yes. Teachers should have qualifications from an institution of higher education which is recognized by the government. The minimum qualification for teachers at every level of any course of study should be as follows:

Course of StudyMinimum Qualification of Teachers
Degree Masters
Diploma Degree
Certificate Diploma
1. How do I know whether a course that is approved by a PHEI is approved by the Malaysian government?

To find out whether a course is approved by the Malaysian government, you can follow the following procedures:

  • For advertised courses, look at the course code and the end of the validity period.
  • For example, Diploma in Computer Science (KN 1234 (5/08)) shows that the course is recognized by MQA and the end of the validity period is May 2008. Alternatively, you can check the MQA’s website 
  • For information obtained from PHEI premises, you can check the Registration Certificate of the institution. Approved courses will be listed in Appendix A of the Registration Certificate.
  • Contact PHE Management Sector to check the status of the course offered.
  • Director (Standard & Registration)

Private Higher Education Management
Level 5, No. 2, Tower 2,
Jalan P5/6, Precinct 5
Federal Government Administrative Centre 
62200 Putrajaya
Tel: 03-8870 6651 Fax: 03-8870 6855 E-mail:

  • Contact Public Service Department to check whether the course is recognized.

Director General
Public Service Department Malaysia 
Human Capital Development Division
Level 3-6, Block C1, Complex C
Federal Government Administrative Centre
Precinct 1
62510 Putrajaya
Tel: 03-8885 3364
Fax: 03-8889 2176

2. What is the meaning of Approval, Provisional Accreditation and Accreditation?
  • Approval – A written consent issued by the Minister of Higher Education to enable the PHEI to conduct a course of study. Approval must be obtained before the PHEI is allowed to conduct its courses of study.
  • Provisional Accreditation – An initial process which will help higher education providers to achieve the accreditation by enhancing the standard and quality set in the provisional accreditation evaluation.
  • Accreditation – a formal recognition that the certificates, diplomas and degrees awarded by higher education institutions are in accordance with the set standards.
3. What are the courses of study that must have Accreditation?

All courses of study offered by PHEI must have Accreditation.

4. How do we confirm that a course of study has achieved Provisional Accreditation or Accreditation?

A search to find out if a course of study has attained Provisional Accreditation or Accreditation may be done by visiting MQA’s website at: through telephone or visit MQA personally.

5. What does a 2+1 Degree course of study mean?

The first two years of the course of study is conducted at the PHEI whilst the final year is conducted at the HEI main campus using the original curriculum.

6. What does a 3+0 Degree course of study mean?

All three years of the course of study programme is conducted at the PHEI using the original curriculum from the HEI main campus.

7. What does Distance Learning Education course of study mean?

It is the conduct of a course of study where the planning, instruction or training or teaching of higher education is conducted exclusively through the medium of electronics, correspondence (including printed materials, CDs, diskettes, tapes and videos) or electronic communication media (internet, tele-conferencing, audio-conferencing, fax, telephone, etc) which involves a carefully planned learning process where the instructor and the students are not a t the same place.

8.What does Credit Transfer Programme means?

Credit Transfer Programme refers to the acceptance of students by foreign or local universities based on the credit hours obtained previously from his / her local PHEIs.

9. What is the entry requirement for a course of study?

Entry requirements that are set in The Guidelines on Criteria and Standards for PHEI course of study are:

Course of Study (Level)Entry Requirements
  • Pass STPM with 2 principals or equivalent qualifications
  • Diploma
  • Foundation / Matriculation
  • Pass SPM with 3 credits or equivalent qualifications *(except for Nursing programme – pass SPM with 5 credits)
  • Certificate
  • Pass SPM with 1 credit or equivalent qualifications
10. What is the medium of instruction in private universities and colleges in Malaysia?

95% of courses at Diploma and 100% of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in private university and university college are conducted in English as the main medium of instruction.

11. As long as college satisfies the criteria concerning programmes, why is the green light not given as soon as possible to the college?

A slight delay will happen if PHEIs do not submit proper documentation as listed in the guidelines of course approval.

12. Are there steps taken to cut down waiting time before a programme is accredited and approved?

The Sector will always ensure that immediate actions be taken to expedite the process of course approval. However, PHEIs will have to apply for accreditation during the final semester of the particular programme, before students graduate.

13. In some countries, college can market their programmes overseas when they get provisional accreditation. When will PHEIs in Malaysia be allowed to do that?

 In Malaysia, only full accredited programmes can be marketed overseas or be offered to international students. The main questions that arise are the issues of quality and recognition, especially by the foreign countries. Provisional accreditation is given to a course of study immediately after it has been given approval and has students enrolled in it. The Ministry is of the view that the programmes are not fully developed yet to be fully evaluated for its quality.

As at 31 July 2010, only six (6) PHEIs, i.e. Wawasan Open University (WOU), Open University Malaysia (OUM), Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNIRAZAK), Asia e-University (AeU), Al-Madinah University (MEDIU) and International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) are allowed to take in students through ‘open entry’. These institutions are clustered as open learning institutions and as such are given the privilege for open entry as long as students meet the criteria set and pass the qualifying examination. The other PHEIs will have to take in students via the common entry requirement depending on the programme offered.

14. Why are university colleges not allowed to offer certificate courses? Why are non-university colleges allowed to do that?

All university colleges are degree conferring institutions and as such they are able to confer degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. University colleges are not allowed to offer certificate level courses, except for Foundation courses with 5 credits at SPM. These certificate courses can be conducted at colleges which are not allowed to confer any degrees. In fact, universities should focus on degree level courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels and also to get involved in R&D and academic writings.  

1. How does PHE Management Sector help the private universities and colleges in terms of attracting foreign students? Is it looking into easing student flow, especially in the area of cutting down red tape?

The Ministry has targeted getting 200,000 international students by 2015. As such, PHEIs have played a very important role in promoting Malaysia’s tertiary education to foreign countries. Since there are now 20 Public Higher Education Institutes and various Polytechnics and Community Colleges, competition in terms of getting the right number of students has been very challenging. To ensure that they get more students, this Sector has always facilitated PHEIs by giving them consultation and advice on various courses / areas that are important for certain countries. In fact, PHEIs are encouraged to participate in the Ministry’s education promotion at various overseas locations. They are also been given tax incentives if they participate in the Ministry’s education promotion through the Double Deduction Incentive (DDI). For quality purposes, PHEIs which apply to recruit international students, need to adhere to a strict set of criteria before they can be approved to do so.

2. Explain the One-stop Centre. Many have complained that visas are held-up despite the One-stop Centre.

The Ministry has also been working very closely with other related Ministries such as Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Internal Affairs to ensure that the process of taking in the international students can be done smoothly. For example, MOHE has embarked on the E-Pass to ensure international students get their visa at least within one week of its application.

3. Who should participate in this study?

All graduates of public universities, polytechnics, public community colleges and private higher institutions can participate in this study. For more information, please log on to