Now Boarding: International Boarding School Options in Malaysia

Explore the options for live-in education in Malaysia with our A to Z of international boarding schools

Explore the options for live-in education in Malaysia with our A to Z of international boarding schools


The school bell rings at 3:30pm. For most students at most schools, that’s the end of the day. Going home time. But not for students at Malaysia’s growing number of international boarding schools. For them, the most important and exciting aspect of boarding life begins: the after-class activity.

With a mix of sports, arts, homework, ICT and socialising, boarding schools really come alive when day schools close. It’s in these hours between last school bell and lights out that boarders truly feel the benefits of living on campus.
First there are the facilities—excellent sports pitches and courts, theatres, computer labs, canteens and recreation areas. Then there’s the living with friends—round-the-clock opportunities for learning, playing and collaborating with peers.
Traditionally these were luxuries afforded only to those fortunate enough to be sent overseas for secondary education.
Now though, there are options aplenty for those after international standards of boarding without the travel, expenses and potential culture shock associated with overseas schools in Europe or Australia. Now, boarding schools in Malaysia are a serious prospect.
Part of the Cempaka Schools education group that runs both national and international primary schools in Cheras, Damansara and Labuan, Cempaka International Ladies College is the first private all-girls’ boarding school in Malaysia.
Opened in 2009 at Bandar Enstek near KLIA, the school offers Cambridge IGCSEs as well as the IB Diploma and GAC programme while hosting girls in either twin sharing or single rooms (depending on age) across four boarding houses.
Originally opened in 1929 in the highlands of Vietnam, Dalat School arrived at its current site in Penang in 1971 after moves to Bangkok and the Cameron Highlands.
Since then it has established itself as one of the top international schools in the country offering “an American, college-preparatory, biblical worldview education.” The student body is split between day pupils and boarders, with boarders living in cosy family-style dorms in the care of ‘dorm parents’.
The brand new Epsom College in Malaysia openes its doors to students in September 2014 and promises a comparable education to Epsom College in the UK in a more modern setting.
With a state-of-the-art campus in Bandar Enstek, Negeri Sembilan, the school is open to day pupils and boarders. Academically, ECiM will follow the National Curriculum for England, including IGCSEs and A Levels for the senior school.
One of the oldest international schools in Malaysia, The International School of Penang (Uplands) offers a truly global education.
Adopting a mix of IB and IGCSE programmes, students leave with a strong international outlook and benefit from the option to attend daily, board weekly or board termly. And with excellent academic results, a solid heritage and trusted teaching, it has built a strong reputation among expatriates in Penang.
Responsible in many ways for the rise in international boarding schools in Malaysia, Kolej Tuanku Ja’afar was opened in 1991 with the goal of encapsulating the spirit, ethos and strengths of a British-style boarding school.
The result is a campus in Negeri Sembilan that teaches a UK-based curriculum to primary school day students and secondary school boarders studying towards IGCSE and A Level qualifications.
Located in the rapidly developing EduCity in Iskandar, Johor, Marlborough College Malaysia offers boarding for students from the age of nine alongside day students at both the preparatory and senior schools.
The 90-acre campus hosts four houses—one each for junior boys, junior girls, senior boys and senior girls—and excellent sports, performing arts and academic facilities.
The school broadly follows the English National Curriculum but after gaining IB World School accreditation in April 2014, the IB Diploma will be offered from September 2014.
MAZ International School started life in Petaling Jaya in 1991 with just 12 students. Since then it has grown considerably as both a day school and a boarding school, moving to a new campus in Shah Alam in 2011.
The campus hosts a pre-school, primary school, secondary school and pre-university programmes that follow the British curriculum with IGCSE and A Level qualifications.
Boarders stay two to a room in separate girls’ and boys’ blocks that together are capable of housing up to 1,000 students.
Nexus International School in Putrajaya aims to develop students for the connected, social world we live in today.
As such, the campus was designed with technology and digital teaching methods in mind, and the school follows a mix of the International Primary Curriculum and the IGCSE and IB Diploma programmes.
The boarding schedule is flexible with the school hosting a combination of day pupils, full and weekly boarders, day boarders and occasional overnight boarders.
One of Penang’s newest international schools, the Prince of Wales Island International School has the look and feel of a much more established campus.
Located on Penang’s west side, away from the island’s more populous areas, the school hosts day pupils and boarders in grand but modern buildings.
Boarders—a combination of weekly, termly and occasional live-in students—stay in one of four halls (though only two are currently used as the school grows into the campus) in mostly twin rooms.
Following a British-style curriculum, the school prepares students for IGCSE and A Level examinations.
Offering the Canadian Ontario School Curriculum, Sunway International School is unique among education institutions in Malaysia. Teaching is conducted by fully Canadian qualified and certified staff and classrooms are equipped with the latest in pedagogic technology and aids.
Students have the option to attend daily or board in the school’s modern SIS House with twin-share bedrooms.

Try these regional international boarding schools for a taste of overseas schooling without the long-haul flights 
With seven schools located across Asia, the Dulwich College International group has been one of the most prolific international school organisations in the region. 
The first of the Asian schools opened in Shanghai in 2003 but Dulwich’s first international boarding school came in 2007 with the opening of Dulwich College Suzhou.
Just 30 minutes outside of Shanghai, the city of Suzhou has a population of four million and Dulwich College offers a mix of IGCSEs and the IB Diploma Programme while boarders have the flexibility of full, weekly or occasional boarding.
Sparked by long-standing links between Thailand’s royal family and the UK’s Harrowon-the-Hill school, Harrow International School was opened in Bangkok in 1998. 
The school has since grown to 1,300 students and produces consistently strong academic results. The boarding students live in two boarding houses for now—Bradbury for the boys and Knoll for the girls—but current site redevelopment will bring new boarding houses along with a bigger sixth form centre, library and early years centre.
Singapore’s UWCSEA is part of the global UWC education organisation. Opened in 1971 as the Singapore International School, the school now exists across two sites: the Dover Campus and the East Campus
Operating on Kurt Hahn’s principals of independence and global perspective that drive the UWC movement, the school’s learning programme consists of five elements: academic, activities, outdoor education, personal and social education, and service. 
Both campuses offer boarding for students aged 13 to 18 in three blocks—Nelson Mandela House and Kurt Hahn House on the Dover Campus, and Tampines House on the East Campus.


Tags: Features, Boarding Schools, International Schools, DIS, ECiM, POWIIS, MCM, NISM, SIS
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