Private Higher Education investments in Malaysia: Staying ahead of the curve in a fragmented market

June 2020
By Yennie Tan, Partner and Deals Strategy Leader, PwC Malaysia

What is the state of the private higher education market in Malaysia today? Although expected to grow to c.RM17 billion in 2024, the tertiary participation rate is still relatively low at 35% in 2015, compared to 85% in developed economies, such as Singapore and Taiwan; indicating untapped potential to be unlocked in the future. The market is highly fragmented and is poised for consolidation.

In this article, we share our perspectives on the current and future outlook of the private higher education landscape.

Malaysian students prioritise academic reputation, employment prospects and cost as key criteria when selecting a tertiary institution

Findings from a student survey comprising current students and graduates based in Malaysia conducted by PwC Malaysia in August 2018 indicate that the academic reputation of a private higher education institution (PHEI), future employment prospects and cost of education are top 3 factors considered by prospective students when evaluating their choices.

Based on qualitative interviews with students, we observed that PHEIs that offer courses with foreign partner universities are more highly sought after, as the accreditation from foreign universities is perceived to increase the marketability and prospects of employment. 

Strategic partnerships and clear brand positioning will further drive success. This includes clear communication of strengths and value proposition of the university to establish branding; and differentiated marketing strategies to increase penetration into targeted market segments.

PHEIs should leverage global trends to unlock value within the higher education segment

Universities and institutions will need to reinvent themselves through innovation and reform to develop workforce-ready graduates with relevant skill sets for the future. 

5 key levers can be harnessed to enhance value in the private higher education industry.

Potential for further consolidation in the private higher education industry

Given the fragmentation in the private higher education market, we envisage that consolidation would be largely driven by major players within the top to mid-tier market segments. The institutions that are likely to win will be those with a clear value proposition and strategy to grow their customer base. 

What could the private higher education landscape look like in the future?

Increased disruption and the need to stay competitive reinforces the significance of Value Creation. How then can education providers stay ahead of the curve?

With the need to stay ahead of the curve in a fragmented market, now is the time for private higher education providers to recalibrate and strategise to create sustained value for students and investors alike.

For more insights, read our full publication: “Harnessing Education in the New Economy

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Yennie Tan

Yennie Tan

Deals Partner, Deals Strategy, PwC Malaysia

Tel: +60 (3) 2173 0551

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