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 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 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 source 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 rain forest, 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 which 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 precedent 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.
Brunei is an independent sultanate on the northwest coast of the island of Borneo in the South China Sea, wedged between the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak. Brunei has the second highest Human Development Index among the South East Asia nations after Singapore, and is classified as a developed country. According to the International Monetary Fund, Brunei is ranked fifth in the world by gross domestic product per capita at purchasing power parity.
Study in Brunei Darussalam takes the international student to the exotic Southeast Asian island of Borneo in the South China Sea. One hundred miles of shoreline form the western boundary of Brunei while the remainder is surrounded by the nation of Malaysia. Malaysian lands actually separate Brunei into two separate, unconnected areas.
These two separate regions are divided into four districts, which are further subdivided into 38 mukims. About 90% of the Brunei population lives in just 15 of these mukims.
His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam is the 29th ruler of the Islamic dynasty started in 1405 by Sultan Muhammad. Brunei’s official name -- Brunei Darussalam -- means Nation of Brunei, Abode of Peace.
The temperature fluctuations are almost negligible, with an average of 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Wintertime lows average less than 75 F. Most of the sultanate lies within the Borneo lowland rain forests, the same ecoregion that covers most of the island. Some inland parts of Brunei are mountainous rain forests. Average annual rainfall is 113 inches.
As of July 2011, Brunei’s population was 401,890, 76% of which lived in urban areas. Most of them -- 66.3% -- are of Malay heritage while the remainder of the population is Chinese, Indigenous, and expatriots from around the globe.
Islam is the official religion of the sultanate and about two-thirds of the population are Muslim. Sharia law, the law of Islam, forbids alcohol consumption so it is illegal to sell or publicly consume alcohol in Brunei. Foreign students and tourists, however, can bring alcoholic beverages from their home countries for private consumption during their stay in Brunei.
Cost of Living
Oil-rich Brunei enjoys a very high gross domestic product (GDP), $50,440 per capita. Ninety percent of this GDP comes from crude oil and natural gas. Brunei is the #9 highest exporter of natural gas in the world. The remaining 10% of its GDP is derived from foreign and domestic entrepreneurship, government regulations, and wares from traditional village crafts of its indigenous population.
Imports are important to Brunei, where 60% of the nation’s food is imported. Other imports include agricultural products, including livestock, and automobiles and electronic equipment.