UQ and Malaysia

Creating partnerships for positive change

Malaysia is home to UQ's 3rd largest student cohort – but the relationship doesn't stop there. UQ has a long history of academic engagement in Malaysia, as well as strong relationships with industry and government sponsors, including the Ministry of Higher Education.

Fast facts


Malaysian students enrolled at UQ


Malaysia-UQ co-publications


academic staff born in Malaysia


research project collaborations


 alumni in Malaysia


agreements with 6 official partners

Fast facts show full-year 2017 data.



In the past 5 years, UQ has partnered with Malaysian researchers on 379 co-publications, largely in the areas of pharmacology and pharmacy, ecology, microbiology, and electrical engineering. Our top co-publishing partners are Universiti Malaya, Monash University Sunway, Universiti Kebangsaan, Universiti Sains Malaysia, and University Putra Malaysia.

Research collaborations

In the past 5 years, UQ has collaborated with 4 Malaysian institutions on 4 research projects, backed by more than A$7.5 million (22.9 million MYR) in funding and covering topics such as coral reef health, and how forests could protect regional climate under global warming. Key collaborators include Borneo Futures, WorldFish and World Wildlife Foundation, Malaysia.

Research funding

3 Malaysian organisations - Sentinext Therapeutics, the Malaysian Rubber Board, and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council - have contributed A$191,049 (585,536  MYR) towards 3 research projects in the past 5 years. Project topics include determining the carbon footprint of major vegetable oil crops and research into human enterovirus-like particle vaccine development.

Collaboration in action

UQ helps protect Malaysia’s marine life

A six-year collaboration between the Malaysian Government and UQ has resulted in the creation of Malaysia’s biggest marine protected area. UQ Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation Science researcher Dr Carissa Klein said the marine region at the northern tip of Borneo was globally significant for its marine life and diverse habitats including coral reefs, mangroves and seagrass, and threatened species including dugong, and sea turtles. “We taught the World Wildlife Fund-Malaysia and Sabah Parks to use Marxan, an environmental mathematical decision software package developed by UQ, to help create the region’s 898,000-hectare Tun Mustapha Park,” Dr Klein said.

Playing for peace

With support from a UQ researcher, a Brisbane-based non-government organisation is using the power of sport to help the 59,000 Rohingya refugees living in Malaysia better integrate into their new home.

UQ Anthropologist Dr Gerhard Hoffstaedter has spent more than nine years documenting the life of urban refugees in Malaysia. He is an honorary advisor to The Kick Project, which is working with the Rohingya Football Club, founded in 2015, to help empower the region’s growing number of refugees.

Social responsibility and mining in Malaysia

UQ International Development and the Sustainable Minerals Institute’s Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining are working with Malaysian NGOs and partners to deliver a multifaceted Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) investment program to support Vale Malaysia Minerals’ Teluk Rubiah Maritime Terminal in Perak State. UQ has been a strategic partner for Vale Malaysia Minerals since early 2012 and has provided strategic CSR planning, development, implementation, and support services to the company. The activities aim to improve sustainable development in the area by supporting livelihoods and strengthening conservation and biodiversity capacity.


Leading-edge coral reef research centre

The Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies cements Australia’s leading contribution to coral reef sciences, and fosters collaborative links with 24 leading institutions worldwide, including Malaysian fishery and aquaculture organisation WorldFish. Researchers from UQ's School of Biological Sciences (SBS) and Global Change Institute are examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution. Led by SBS palaeoecology and marine studies specialist Professor John Pandolfi, the research aims to increase knowledge of the dynamics and resilience of ecosystems, and to improve coral reef management in both Malaysia and Australia. Collectively, the Centre is the world’s largest concentration of coral reef scientists.

Malaysian students at UQ

Malaysian students make up one of the largest international cohorts at UQ. In the past 5 years, 2588 Malaysian students enrolled in UQ degrees, with commerce, engineering, and the Bachelor of Arts among the most popular program choices.

UQ has a long history of academic engagement in Malaysia including established academic pathways into UQ programs with partners such as HELP University, Taylor’s University and INTI College, and long-term relationships with Malaysian government sponsors. The country's rich culture is celebrated on campus through the UQ Malaysian Students' Association, which offers a 'home away from home' for students and an active social calendar for the wider community.

The Faculty of Business, Economics, and Law (BEL) also offers the Malaysian Global Leaders Scholarship, which covers tuition at UQ (excluding the MBA), as well as a number of programs to help develop employability skills.

Photo: Nurfarahin Zahiridin (far left), from Malaysia, graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Semester 2, 2016

Nurfarahin Zahiridin and friends sit outside sandstone building

Student mobility

Student exchange

UQ has a student exchange agreement with the University of Nottingham Malaysia campus. In the past 5 years, 1 UQ student studied in Malaysia and 1 Malaysian student studied at UQ under the exchange agreement.

Stories from Penang

In April 2016, supported by the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program, 18 third-year architecture students embarked on a 10-day study program to the UNESCO cultural world heritage site of George Town, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang. On returning to Australia, students developed their schemes in the design studio before curating an exhibition of their work.

Environmental sustainability and legal innovation

In January 2017, supported by the New Colombo Plan Mobility Program, UQ law students undertook clinical placements in Malaysia alongside legal experts, community leaders, and industry partners, which include practical legal tasks, and seminars on the issues of political ecology, biodiversity, and Indigenous land rights.


Malaysia is home to UQ’s 4th largest international alumni network, behind the USA, Singapore, and China. More than 3540 alumni live in Malaysia and around 6000 were born there. Alumni with significant links to Malaysia include:

Vice-Chancellor, INTI International University; International Alumnus of the Year 2015 (PhD, 1986)
Datuk Dr Rosti Saruwono
Former Vice-Chancellor, University of Selangor; International Alumnus of the Year 2007 (Bachelor of Engineering 1974)
Tan Sri Dato Abdul Khalid Ibrahim
14th Chief Minister of the Malaysian state of Selangor; International Alumnus of the Year 2002 (Master of Business Administration 1976 and Doctor of Science honoris causa 1996)
Deputy Head of Mission, Malaysia (Bachelor of Economics (Hons), Bachelor of Arts in Mandarin Chinese)