Twinning, Transfer Vs. Exchange Programmes: What’s the Difference?

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When making a decision on pursuing your studies, you may stumble upon terms such as transfer programmes, twinning programmes and even exchange programmes. So, what do they mean and how do you figure out which one is best for you?

What Is A Twinning Programme?

A Twinning Programme is depicted as a programme offered by a university through a signed agreement with a foreign university. This programme allows students to complete a portion of their tertiary education in one of the higher education institutions in Malaysia before transferring to a university abroad to complete the rest, if and only when there is an agreement between a local institution or a pathway provider with a partner university abroad. 

The most common twinning program arrangement is for students to complete 1 year of study at home and 2 years abroad. In this arrangement, you are required to pay the local fees for about 1 year, and the abroad fees for 2 years. However, different degrees may have different arrangements depending on the course syllabus and professional recognition requirements of that particular profession. 

What Are The Benefits of Choosing A Twinning Programme?

Opting for a twinning programme provides students with numerous benefits which explains its growing popularity amongst students. Here are some of the benefits of choosing a twinning programme; 

  • Reduced Tuition Fee

Among the primary reasons students choose a twinning programme is its affordable study abroad costs. In fact, it is one of the cheapest options available for students who ought to study abroad and pursue international degrees, having to save on both their cost of living and tuition fees. Instead of paying the full duration of tuition fees and living expenses, you get to save on both by completing parts of the degree at home and pay a cheaper tuition fee. 

  • Flexibility of Twinning Programmes 

Twinning programmes become the choice of many students also due to its flexibility. There are various types of twinning programmes that vary by duration that students can select from depending on their preference, financial situation, and budget. Some are 1+2, 3+1, or even 3+0 in which the digits indicate the number of years you spend studying in a country. You will soon encounter the meaning of these numbers as you read this article. 

  • Receive A Qualification From a Foreign University Without Leaving Home Country 

If you decide not to study abroad, another major benefit of choosing a twinning programme is that students will be able to receive a qualification from a renowned foreign university without having to leave their home country. In this way, students get to complete the entirety of their degree in their home country but are still able to acquire a qualification from an international university, allowing students to save their money. 

What Are The Types of Twinning Programmes?

As mentioned previously, there are many types of twinning programmes offered in Malaysia which differ by the duration spent in the host country and overseas. These different types of twinning programmes also vary in cost, hence why it is important for you to opt for a suitable twinning programme. 

The twinning programmes offered are essentially denoted by digits. For example, ‘1+2’  or ‘3+1’, in which the first digit indicates the number of years you will be studying in Malaysia while the second digit indicates the number of years spent studying overseas in the partner university. 

Here are some of the twinning programmes offered in Malaysia : 

  • 1+2 Programme (1 year at home and 2 years abroad)
  • 2+1 Programme 
  • 3+0 Programme (You do not travel)
  • 2+2 Programme 
  • 1+3 Programme 

Keep in mind that choosing a programme where you spend more years in Malaysia such as ‘2+1’ or ‘3+1’ will cost a lot less. In addition, you will be able to save up more money to be spent when you are studying overseas to gain a full experience when living there.

Interested in pursuing a transfer programme? Contact us now for a free consultation session. 

What Is A Transfer Programme?

A Transfer Programme is essentially similar to a twinning program, however the key difference here is that there is no official partnership between the home university and the foreign university. Thus, when you graduate you will only receive a qualification from the foreign university.

You will need to submit an application to the foreign university of your choice and request for credit transfer. A credit transfer is basically transferring the subjects, courses and knowledge you have learned back in your home country to reduce the study load in that foreign university. (For instance, if you have completed 8 subjects back home, you then transfer these 8 subjects to that foreign university. Originally you will need to complete 24 subjects in that foreign university, but now you only need to complete 16 subjects)

In this scenario, the foreign university will take into account various factors to grant you the credits to reduce the study load in that foreign university. These factors include the compatibility of the program, the ‘prestige’ level of the foreign university, and other factors deemed important to the foreign university. 

It is also important to remember that most foreign universities have a limit on the amount of credits granted to your home degree and you may not be able to transfer everything you have studied in your home degree to the foreign university.

What Are The Benefits of Choosing A Transfer Programme?

  • Freedom of Choice 

Transfer Programmes are flexible in terms of choosing the partner university you wish to transfer to, however you will need to do some research to understand the compatibility of the program offered by the foreign university and your home university. For example, if your Bachelor of Psychology degree at home is 3 years, and the Bachelor of Psychology degree in a foreign university is 4 years, here it indicates that essentially both programs are taught differently.

  • Reduced Tuition Fees

By completing parts of your degree at home and studying the balance in the foreign university, you will be making some huge savings on tuition fees and living expenses abroad. 

Types of Transfer Programmes

#1 UK Transfer Programmes

The UK has been a go to pick for many international students especially Malaysians, despite its high cost of living. UK transfer programmes have been of interest for many over the last few decades which is evident in the amount of UK branch campuses that have popped up in Malaysia over the years. 

If you’re afraid of not having sufficient savings to study abroad in the UK, fret not as international students are allowed to take up a part time job and work up to 20 hours per week during their semester and full time during semester breaks. However, there are certain restrictions that must be adhered to in order for you to be able to work while studying. Feel free to contact Excel Education for more information regarding these restrictions. 

Besides that, with the Graduate Route Visa, international students can work for up to 2 years in the UK upon completing their undergraduate or master’s degree in a UK university. This is an amazing opportunity for international students who wish to take the next step into being employed in the UK. As for its eligibility, students are required to complete at least one year of their degree in the UK. 

Let’s just say you wish to return to your home country or upon completing your degree in the UK, receiving a degree from a UK university can provide you with a solid foundation for the working world and makes your resume stand out to prospective employers. As UK’s higher education providers are internationally recognised for their innovative approaches, making students adaptable and reliable, it is no doubt that these students will be outstanding in any country they plan to work in. 

Contact us for more information on UK Transfer Programmes that are offered in Malaysia and university options available. 

#2 Australia Transfer Programmes

Australia has also been one of the most popular options for international students due to its world class universities, student friendly cities, and strong global research. In fact, eight universities in Australia placed in the top 100 in the QS World University Rankings, earning honourable mentions for employer reputation, academic reputation, and the ratio of international students. Some of these universities have also been featured in the Times Higher Education Rankings and the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities. 

Besides that, Australia offers international students many work opportunities. Students can work up to 40 hours per fortnight, most likely providing you with extra pocket money for leisure activities with your friends, paying off rent, or even quick getaways during holiday breaks. 

Some of the common part time jobs that international students take up are as follows;

  • Retail jobs in supermarket or department stores 
  • Administration 
  • Food and Beverage 
  • Tutoring 

What about working in Australia once you have graduated? Well, the post-work study visa allows you to do so by giving students the option to remain in Australia upon graduation and to work for up to 2 years. On top of that, students who graduate from universities situated in regional areas of Australia such as Adelaide, Perth, Gold Coast, and Tasmania are qualified for an extra year (3 years in total) on a post-graduate work visa and gain greater opportunity to apply for permanent residency (PR).

Contact us for more information on Australia Transfer Programmes that are offered in Malaysia and university options available. 

What Is An Exchange Programme?

Exchange programme is a programme that allows students to transfer to a foreign university where there is an official partnership between both the home university and the foreign university for either 1 or 2 semesters. The important thing to remember here is that while you are studying abroad you are not required to pay the fees required by the foreign university

This implies that students continue to pay local tuition fees while studying abroad during the exchange programme. However it is important to remember that in this arrangement, most local universities will include a ‘cap/limit’ on how many students can do the exchange programme each year. They might also only offer this arrangement to their top 20% brightest student

What Are The Key Differences Between Twinning, Transfer, and Exchange Programmes?


Twinning Programme 

Transfer Programme 

Exchange Programme 

Tuition fees 

Pay tuition fees to the foreign university

Pay tuition fees to the foreign university

Pay tuition fees to the home university in the local currency while studying abroad 

Ability to choose your desired university 

Transfer to a specific university, limiting students flexibility to choose their own 

Transfer to a university of your choice (Require you to conduct research and analysis of the compatibility of programs) 

Transfer to a specific university which is arranged by the home university

Structure of the Programmes 

Both universities (in the home country and host country) have compatible subjects, syllabus, and grading systems. 

The foreign university may not have compatible subjects, syllabus, and grading system as the home university. 

Both universities have compatible subjects, syllabus, and grading system

Still unsure of the differences between transfer, twinning or exchange programmes? Contact us now for a FREE consultation session!

Universities In Malaysia With Twinning and Exchange Programmes

Here are some of the destinations students can choose when studying in some of Malaysia’s most popular institutions that offer twinning and exchange programs. However, please remember, even if the university or country is not listed as an official partner, you always have the freedom and choice to apply for a transfer program.



Taylors University College

  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • Australia 
  • Canada

Sunway University College

  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • Australia 
  • United States (US)

INTI University College

  • United Kingdom (UK) 
  • Australia 
  • United States (US) 
  • Canada 

SEGI University College

  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • Australia 
  • United States (US)

Asia Pacific University (APU)

  • United Kingdom (UK)

Brickfields Asia College (BAC)

  • United Kingdom (UK)

Note that the countries students can choose from in the list provided for each university may vary according to their chosen area of study. Feel free to contact Excel Education to get more detailed information! 

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Gabrielle Marie Wong

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