Higher Education in Brunei Darussalam
The children of Brunei are expected to attend 15 years of school, earning the nation a literacy rate of 92.7%. International students are welcome, with most coming from the ASEAN nations (Association of Southeast Asian Nations).
Only the highest achievers are admitted to Brunei universities. Grade-point averages are a serious part of the selection process, with students in the highest percentiles more likely to be accepted. This policy applies to foreign and domestic students alike.
Once a potential student has been identified s/he must pass entrance exams based on the intended field of study and complete a series of related interviews. Final approval for enrollment is granted only after the entire application procedure has been completed satisfactorily.
Brunei’s universities are small by international standards and are state-run institutions, meaning all personnel are either political appointees or employees of the government. Some of the most notable schools include:
- University of Brunei Darussalam (UBD) -- The oldest, founded in 1985, just one year after complete national independence was achieved. International students have always been welcome here. Two living royal princesses graduated from UBD in recent years.
- Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali -- This second university founded after Brunei's independence specializes in the study of Islam.
- Brunei Institute of Technology (ITB) -- Founded in 1986, the ITB gained university status in 2008.
- Laksamana College of Business (LCB) -- A private institute established in 2003 in partnership with the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) Kensington College of Business. Student housing accommodations are available and students of LCB can easily transfer or extend their educational pursuits at other universities in the UK.
Tuition rates vary by institution, public or private. Sometimes the field of study dictates tuition rates but degree level is a factor as well. The ITB, for example, charges by the semester at a rate of (US dollars) $1,426 to $1,782 for undergraduate studies while a master’s degree program costs $3,169 and a doctorate degree program costs $9,505.
Additional fees include acceptance fees, deposits, field/site trip fees, examination fees, and various miscellaneous expenses.
Some Brunei universities have no on-campus housing facilities. Those that do require additional fees. Those that don’t will help international students find suitable, affordable living accommodations.
There are no medical schools in Brunei at this time but there are schools dedicated to the teaching of nursing and midwifery. Petroleum and natural gas are the sources of the nation’s wealth, making this an ideal location to study geology, engineering, transport, and other disciplines related to these natural resources.
Most of the land outside the urban areas is rainforest, home to many unique species of flora and fauna, a geographic consideration for students interested in studying these fields. A substantial indigenous population provides a unique study opportunity for students interested in ancient cultures, evolution, archaeology, and the study of the history of man in general.
Communications, international business, and foreign relations are important considerations for the student studying abroad in Brunei. Brunei is conveniently located in the midst of some of Asia’s most cosmopolitan cities so travel to them is relatively easy and inexpensive.
All foreign students must provide proof of health insurance upon enrollment. Coverage must be effective during the student’s entire term of study.
Check with your homeland’s embassy for assistance in obtaining a visa to study in Brunei. In addition to travel authorization, an international student must submit three complete sets of application forms and certified copies of academic certification. The UBD has a late March deadline for submitting these documents.
Brunei is an absolute Islamic government that uses a system of law fashioned from that of British common law. Its laws are published in English. In certain situations, however, Islamic Sharia law takes precedence over British common law. Law enforcement can be harsh, with lengthy prison sentences and caning as punishment.
Brunei loves its cars, where there's one privately owned vehicle for every 2.09 people. Students from the US will find that gasoline in Brunei is about half the price they pay stateside.