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Malaysia: New international enrolments on hold with strict protocols for returning students

Short on time? Here are the highlights:

  • Malaysia is not allowing new international students into the country until further notice
  • Returning students with valid study visas, or visas that have expired since 1 February 2020, will be allowed into the country to resume their studies at public and private higher learning institutions
  • These returning students will have to meet several conditions including a 14-day quarantine at their own expense

In updated guidance released on 29 July, Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS), an agency of Malaysia’s Ministry of Higher Education,  has announced that the country will not be accepting new international students “until further notice” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while the entry of new international students is on hold, students outside Malaysia with valid study visas and those whose visas have expired since 1 February 2020 will be able to enter Malaysia to continue their studies.

Students in the latter two groups must be registered with EMGS and need to obtain a travel authorisation to enter Malaysia from the Director General of the Malaysian Immigration Department. Once they have this, they must (1) download and complete a Letter of Undertaking and Indemnity for Person Under Surveillance, and (2) obtain a Letter of Approval (Entry Permit) from an accredited Malaysian mission abroad.

In addition, returning students have to follow several safety procedures in order to be allowed into Malaysia to study, and they must also assume the financial cost attached to each:

  • A COVID-19 detection screening test upon arrival;
  • A 14-day quarantine at a location determined by the higher education institution they will be attending;
  • An antibody test on the 13th day of the quarantine period.

While returning students are not required by the Malaysian government to undergo a pre-arrival COVID-19 screening test before they depart their countries, EMGS advises that they should check with their airline about any requirements the airline may have around COVID-19 screening tests before they leave. And again, students should know that they will have to pay to take a mandatory screening test upon arrival in Malaysia.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad has said that roughly 11,000 foreign students, mostly from Pakistan, Thailand and Indonesia – have applied to return to Malaysia to continue their studies. In addition, Malaysia’s higher education institutions have received over 9,000 applications from prospective international students hoping to begin studies in January and February of 2021.

For detailed protocols and guidance for both new and returning students, please see the EMGS website for the latest updates.

For additional background, please see:


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