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Exploring Access and Equity in Malaysia’s Private Higher Education


  • Siew Yean Tham

    (Asian Development Bank Institute (ADBI))


Private higher education institutions (PrHEIs) are utilized to complement public provision due to financial constraints faced in public provision. However, increasing private provision has raised interesting questions as to who gets educated in these PrHEIs. Is increasing private supply enlarging the circle of opportunity to reach those who might otherwise have been unable to enter university or college? In other words, has the explosion in private supply translated into greater inclusion or increased exclusion? This paper explores the access and equity issues in Malaysia’s private higher education system. Malaysia is an interesting case study due to the significant presence of PrHEIs in the country and their contribution toward student enrolment. The findings show that the Malaysian government has provided considerable financial support for the development of PrHEIs, through the provision of incentives, subsidized loans, and scholarships. Quality assurance efforts further enhance the development of private provision, as student loans and scholarships are only provided for students on accredited programs. Therefore, PrHEIs have widened access and equity, with the help of government support. Despite this, Malaysia’s model of providing access and equity through private provision may be unsustainable, due to the poor repayment record of student loans and the economic need to reduce the fiscal deficit of the government.

Suggested Citation

  • Siew Yean Tham, 2011. "Exploring Access and Equity in Malaysia’s Private Higher Education," Governance Working Papers 23256, East Asian Bureau of Economic Research.
  • Handle: RePEc:eab:govern:23256

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    More about this item


    Private Higher Education; Malaysia; private supply of education;

    JEL classification:

    • H44 - Public Economics - - Publicly Provided Goods - - - Publicly Provided Goods: Mixed Markets
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education
    • I23 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Higher Education; Research Institutions

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