There are various financial aid options available for Malaysian students who are looking to pursue their postgraduate studies, which vary depending on their needs and field of study, as well as whether they will pursue their postgraduate at a public or private institution.
Students can apply for fellowships, which are essentially scholarships that will cover either the partial or full cost of study. The grant is awarded either by the university or external institutions and can be used to cover various costs such as tuition, housing, books, etc.
Assistantships, on the other hand, are usually sponsored by the institution that the student has chosen to study in. In exchange for the funds, the student is usually required to carry out work on campus relating to their field of study.
Some of the more commonly available funding options are as follows:
Many universities award partial or full scholarships to students with an excellent track record or who demonstrate outstanding academic potential. These funds are from the university’s own coffers, donated by individuals, corporate sponsors, philanthropists and wealthy alumni members.
Local research universities, such as University of Malaya (UM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), award financial assistance to all qualified Malaysian graduates to further their postgraduate studies, especially those who are pursuing their PhDs. The award usually covers tuition fees for the entire duration of the master’s or PhD programme, plus a monthly allowance or stipend. The details are available on the respective university’s website.
Teaching assistantships come with full or partial tuition benefits as well as a competitive hourly wage, allowing postgraduate students to earn some money while studying. This arrangement is especially ideal for recipients who are interested in teaching or in pursuing a doctorate, as it is a great way to gain classroom experience.
The recipient is usually required to teach undergraduate courses, grade papers, compile bibliographies, lead discussion sessions or tutorials, and supervise laboratory sessions. On the flipside, this type of work can be very time-consuming as the recipient is expected to maintain office hours in addition to completing their postgraduate course.
This type of scholarship is usually funded by supervisors, project leaders or heads of research within the university. In return for tuition benefits, the recipient is required to work with the faculty on the research project for which the grant has been awarded, including publishing research work in academic journals or conducting research projects for the institution.
These positions are most widely available in the area of Sciences, although some Humanities and Social Science departments do hire research assistants as well.
There are also several private organisations that provide financial aid and scholarships for postgraduate education, such as Shell, Petronas, HSBC Bank Malaysia Berhad, Tenaga Nasional, Telekom Malaysia, Astro, and so on. Some options may come attached with a bond, where the recipient will have to work for the organisation for a pre-agreed period upon graduation.
In exploring these options, it is important first and foremost, to properly understand the various requirements and instructions, as one of the main reasons for scholarship rejection is incomplete or incorrectly filled applications. Beyond that, students who feel they may be eligible for any of these funds should not hesitate to apply, as that is the only way they will ever be able to receive any financial assistance.