Malaysia is investing heavily in turning itself into a leading destination for international students, and its efforts appear to be paying off.

While not yet quite at the same level as Asian higher-education leaders such as China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, Malaysia is certainly among the region’s emerging contenders.

Branch universities are a large part of the country's plan. Existing branch campuses include those operated by the University of Nottingham, UK, and Monash University, Australia - and the new EduCity development will provide shared facilities for even more foreign-run universities.

But, while the growing presence of overseas universities in Malaysia is broadening the country’s higher education offering, its home-grown universities should certainly not be overlooked.

The country’s highest-ranking institution in the 2012/13 QS World University Rankings is Universiti Malaya (UM) at 156. Also in the world’s top 500 are Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (261), Universiti Sains Malaysia (326), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (358) Universiti Putra Malaysia (360), and International Islamic University Malaysia.

Many private universities in Malaysia offer a ‘twinning’ or ‘2+1’ degree option. These have been running in Malaysia for around 20 years, and allow students to complete part of their degree in Malaysia, and part at a partner institution in another country.

These courses have been popular, as they offer the chance to gain a degree accredited by a prestigious university in an established higher education destination (such as the UK, US, Australia, New Zealand, France or Germany) without spending as much as this would usually cost.

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