TNE graduate employment study: an analysis of graduate employment trends in Malaysia


May 2018


This report focuses on graduate employability in Malaysia, a country aspiring to graduate to high-income and to become an international education hub through its Vision 2020 blueprint. 

The research has been completed in three phases:

Phase 1 - Employability of graduates in Malaysia: the perceptions of selected employers

Key findings: 

  • Employers place greater emphasis on soft skills as opposed to hard skills. These soft skills include, very importantly, language (English) and communications skills.
  • Career prospects of TNE students appear to be good compared to other types of graduates.
  • While foreign graduates are top in language, communication skills and confidence, local TNE university graduates are prepared to work hard, committed and are familiar with the local business environment.
  • 60% of employers suggested that a TNE qualification would have a positive impact on a graduates career prospects. 76% of students thought employment prospects would be enhanced. 

Phase 2 - Employability of graduates in Malaysia: the perceptions of selected students and parents

Key findings:

  • Like the majority of employers in Phase I, students and parents place a premium on TNE programmes for their international recognition, being well regarded and awarding degrees valued by employers.
  • Both students and, in particular, parents expressed the view that qualifications obtained from international branch campuses in Malaysia and local private universities with TNE elements in their programmes will enhance employment opportunities of their graduates.
  • With regard to importance of knowledge and skills specific to an organisation, both students and parents placed a high value on knowledge, soft skills like the English language and hard skills such as information technology besides specific competencies. This finding, too, largely reflects that of the employers in Phase 1.

Phase 3 - Employability of graduates in Malaysia: the perceptions of senior management and academic staff

  • While senior management and students/parents share the utility function of TNE programmes there seems to be some shades of difference in emphasis as to what TNE can achieve.
  • 70% of the senior management strongly disagreed/disagreed that TNE programmes develop critical thinking much more than local programmes. The main reason cited was that TNE classes are taught mainly by local academicians who tend to emphasise theory rather than practice and knowledge application.
  • There is a clear indication that graduates from private HEIs are more likely to be employed than those from public universities.
  • 96% of the respondents considered that qualifications from international branch campus and local private universities would very likely/likely enhance employment opportunities.
  •  These were followed by foreign universities outside Malaysia and local private university colleges, each scoring with 92% of the respondents.
  • Local public universities and local private colleges scored 88% each.

View slides for a summary of phase 3.