Asasi vs Foundation: What’s the Difference?

Asasi and Foundation may sound the same but they both refer to different programmes. Learn more about the programmes’ cost, eligibility and application process here.

Updated 17 Mar 2023

asasi-vs-foundation-whats-the-difference

You’re probably aware that Asasi and Foundation are post-secondary programmes that serve as pathways to an undergraduate degree in Malaysia. And while the direct translation of Asasi does mean Foundation, the terms are generally used to refer to two different types of programmes. 

So what are the differences between the two programmes and how do you decide which one suits you best? 

In this article, we compare the cost, eligibility and requirements for the two programmes so that you can understand the similarities and differences between Asasi and Foundation. 

#1. Asasi generally refers to the foundation provided by public universities while Foundation refers to those offered by private universities

asai-offer-by-public-uni-foundation-offer-by-private-uni

Although the term Asasi directly translates to Foundation, they are commonly used to distinguish between foundation programmes offered by public universities (Asasi) and foundation programmes by private universities (Foundation).

Both Asasi and Foundation are designed to provide you with a solid foundation in the study area that you are interested in. This includes broad disciplines such as science, arts and humanities, as well as specialised fields such as life sciences, engineering, computer science and law.

#2. Asasi requires you to go through UPU while application for Foundation is direct to the university

asasi-foundation-application-and-requirements

Since Asasi is offered by public universities, most, if not all, will require you to apply through UPU, a central platform by the Ministry of Higher Education that manages the application process for public universities. It will involve you applying for several courses and universities at one go.

On the other hand, if you want to enrol for Foundation studies at private universities, you can submit your application to the university directly without going through a central system.

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#3. Entry into Asasi is more competitive compared to Foundation

asasi-is-more-competitive

Getting into an Asasi programme is infinitely more difficult than Foundation. Although most have similar entry requirements to a Foundation, some highly sought-after Asasi programmes like ASASIpintar have higher entry requirements and an average merit score of over 94%. This is largely due to the volume of applicants vying for a limited number of spots.

Meanwhile, you are almost guaranteed of a spot at a Foundation programme at private universities. As long as you meet the entry requirements, your place is secured. 

#4. Most Asasi programmes are limited to bumiputeras

asasi-is-majority-for-bumiputeras

There are over 40 Asasi programmes offered by public universities and the majority of them are reserved for bumiputeras only. This policy is reserving spots for bumiputeras is part of the affirmative action programme to address socioeconomic inequalities among different ethnic groups.

As a non-bumiputera student, this limits the number of Asasi programmes you can apply for. However, there are still some that are open to all, regardless of race and ethnicity. This includes UKM’s ASASIpintar, UPM’s Asasi Sains Pertanian and UMT’s Asasi STEM.

In contrast, Foundation programmes at private universities have no such requirements and are often solely based on academic results.

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#5. Asasi is cheaper than Foundation although some private universities offer scholarships and free foundation programmes

asasi-is-cheaper

Asasi programmes are generally more affordable compared to Foundation as the fees are highly subsidised by the government. Though it may vary from one university to another, the fees are often below RM2,000 for programme.

In contrast, Foundation programmes are typically more expensive than Asasi as they do not receive the same level of government subsidies as public universities. However, if you have strong academic results, you may be eligible for a scholarship that can offset the fees, with some scholarships even covering 100% of the tuition fees! Additionally, some universities offer free Foundation programmes if you meet the minimum entry requirements and continue your degree at the same university. This can be a great opportunity to save on costs while still receiving a quality education. 

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#6. Asasi’s financial aid options are more flexible

asasi-has-more-flexible-financial-aids
In addition to the low fees, Asasi students are also eligible for Bantuan Kewangan Asasi, a programme to help those with financial difficulties. This financial aid is especially for those from the B40 and M40 segment, i.e. those with a monthly household income of less than RM10,000.

On the other hand, most Foundation programmes are not eligible for any government financial aid. In fact, only a handful of Foundation courses are eligible for PTPTN. Having said that, some universities have financial assistance programmes that you can apply for.

We hope this has been useful in helping you compare and contrast between Asasi and Foundation. Ultimately, there are many factors to consider such as your personal circumstances, academic performance, financial considerations and career aspirations. Regardless which you opt for, both pathways will allow you to pursue an undergraduate degree.

Can’t decide which one you should study? Speak to our advisors for a free consultation.

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    Syed Amirul

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