Which pre-university programme should you choose?
If you have an SPM qualification and you are planning to pursue a bachelor degree, you would most likely need a pre-U qualification to gain admission to a university or college.
A pre-U programme will help develop essential study skills, critical thinking skills, and other skills that you need for a bachelor degree. It will also prepare you with a sound foundation in the field you wish to pursue. In addition, you will have the chance to take part in extra-curricular activities that develop qualities like team spirit, leadership, confidence, communication skills more.
Although many pre-U programmes are recognised globally by universities, it is important to spend some time finding out more about each type of pre-U programme so that your transition into a bachelor degree will be easier.
Comparing various types of pre-university programmes
There are many choices of pre-university programmes and it can be challenging to find one that best suits you. There are a number of criteria that you can use to compare the programmes. These include grade assessment method, tuition fee, duration of programme, number of subjects to study, and others. The table below indicates these differences between various pre-university programmes.
A comparison between selected pre-university programmes
|Types of pre-university programmes||Assessment method||Duration of study||No. of subjects (Typical exam result announcement date)||Estimated tuition fee per course (RM)|
Ministry of Education Malaysia
|Internal continuous assessment and semester exam
|12 months||6-7 subjects||Minimal fee|
|Cambridge GCE A-Levels, UK||100% external exam
(with no coursework)
|15-18 months||2-5 subjects / (August/January)||RM20,000 – RM38,000|
|Edexcel Advanced International Levels (Pearson)||100% external exam
(with no coursework – modular structure)
|15-18 months||2-5 subjects / (August/March)||RM38,000|
|IB Diploma, International||30% internal college-based assessment and 70% external exam||24 months||6 subjects / (July/January)||RM42,000|
|SACE, South Australia||70% internal college-based assessment and 30% external exam||11 months||5 subjects / (December)||RM21,000 – RM27,000|
|AUSMAT, Australia||50% internal college-based assessment and 50% external exam||10 months||5 subjects / (December)||RM 17,000 – RM 27,000|
|CIMP, Canada||70% internal college-based assessment and 30% external exam||12 months||6 subjects / (June/December, usually 1 month after exam)||RM27,000 – RM31,000|
|New South Wales High School Certificate (HSC)||50% internal college-based assessment and 50% external exam||11 months||5 subjects||RM15,000|
|Monash University Foundation Year (MUFY)||Internal continuous assessment and semester exam (=100%)||10 months||4-5 subjects / (July/December, usually within 2 months after exam)||RM27,000|
|The International Foundation Year Programme (IFY, NCUK)||20% by coursework and 80% by examination||9 months||4 subjects / (July/January, usually 1 month after exam)||RM25,000|
|Internal programmes at private universities and colleges||Internal continuous assessment and semester exam (=100%)||10 - 12 months||5-6 subjects / (Varies)||RM10,000 – RM20,000|
|Internal programmes at public universities||Internal continuous assessment and semester exam (=100%)||10 - 12 months||5-6 subjects / (Varies)||Minimal Fees|
|STPM, Malaysia||20-40% by school-based internal assessment and 60-80% by external exam||18 months (3 semesters)||4-5 subjects / (June*) *post Covid||Minimal fees (the programme is conducted at public schools)|
Source: StudyMalaysia Research Team
(Note: All figures are estimates and merely serve as a guideline)
Besides the factors mentioned above, there are a few more things to consider when choosing a pre-U programme. Although most of these programmes collectively offer you a lot of choice in terms of subjects, do check that the particular college or university you have chosen offers the subjects you want, and that you’re able to take the subject combination of your choice.
Another thing to consider is the intake dates in relation to the course duration and the commencement of the bachelor degree programme you want to pursue. If you don’t want too long a gap between pre-U and your degree programme, or conversely, you want to take a short gap between the two, it’s worthwhile mapping out your start and end dates when choosing a pre-U programme.
Have you decided on what and where you’d like to study after pre-U? Do take some time to find out all about the courses you’re interested in. Make sure that the pre-U programme you sit for is accepted or recognised by the degree you want to pursue. In addition, it’s important to note that if you enrol for a foundation programme offered by a particular private university or college, you should be sure that you will be pursuing your bachelor degree at the same institution – it is likely that your foundation qualification may not be recognised by another higher education institutions.
Want to find out more about pre-university programmes? Read it here.
- Choosing The Right Pre-University Programme: AUSMAT, SACE, NSW HSC.
- Choosing The Right Pre-University Programme: CIMP.
- Choosing The Right Pre-University Programme: A levels.
- Choosing the Right Pre-university Programme: Foundation Studies by Private Universities and Colleges.
- Choosing The Right Pre-University Programme: STPM.
- Choosing The Right Pre-University Programme: IB Diploma
- Choosing The Right Pre-University Programme: The International Foundation Year Programme (IFY, NCUK)
- MOE’s Matriculation programme, PISMP and PPC 2021 Intake Now Open to SPM 2020 candidates