For International Students


Planning to study in Malawi as an international student? Let's help you get started!


Prospective international students who wish to study in Malawi will find on this page quick facts about Malawi and the Malawian higher education system. The HEC online platform is a free higher education resource catalog for students and service providers. Click the button below to learn more about HEC.

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About Malawi

Malawi, fondly known as The Warm Heart of Africa is a country located in the south-eastern part of Africa neighbouring Zambia, Tanzania and Mozambique. It is well known for its warm and friendly people and one of the world's largest fresh water lakes, Lake Malawi, which covers close to a quater of the country.

The country has four major cities, namely, Blantyre located in the southern part of the country, Zomba in the south-east, Mzuzu in the north and the capital city Lilongwe located in the center. Malawi offers a diverse set of unique and pleasant academic and social experiences to visiting students.


Geography and Weather

Malawi has a total size of 118,300 sq km (45,747 sq mi) with a population of just over 17 million (as of 2017). The country is partitioned into three regions (south, central and north) with 28 districts spread accross the regions. International students will enjoy visiting some notable sites including Lake Malawi, Mulanje mountain, Zomba plateau and the many wildlife reserve parks.

Malawi's climate is generally tropical, with the highest temperatures of up to 29 oC (84.2 oF) experienced in summer (November - March) and temperatures as low as 10 oC (50.2 oF) in winter (May - July). Heavy rains are experienced in summer.


Cost of Living

Life is relatively affordable compared to other countries in the region. The local Malawian currency is the Malawian Kwacha (MWK) and exchanges at the rate of MK780.00 to the US dollar (as of December 2020). Although all government-funded universities offer on-campus accommodation, most private universities and public technical colleges require students to arrange for their own housing. Monthly rates for student accommodation in the major cities average MK30,000 (about US$40).

Food can easily be sourced from local markets and a variety of supermarkets if situated in the city. Meals can cost as low as MK1,500.00 (US$2.00) and may be cheaper outside cities. Malawi boasts of a wide variety of foods, most common of which are corn, rice, irish and sweet potatoes, cassava, dairy and some of the world's best fishes.

Intra-city transportation is mainly via private taxis and one can make it around the city for under a dollar. Although there is no Uber service yet, local ride sharing apps are available that make travelling around the city easier for students.

International students may find it more convenient to purchase a laptop and smartphone before coming to Malawi as consumer electronics are very expensive. Internet data charges are also relatively high compared to most countries and may be as high as US$27 per 1GB of data. To ease the cost, most Internet service providers offer a variety of more affordable standard and student data bundles that may go for as low as US$1.50/GB. Mobile voice services are cheaper, averaging MK70.00/min (about 10 cents) for local calls and MK500/min (about 65 cents) for international calls. There are two major Internet and mobile service providers; Airtel Malawi and Telekom Networks Malawi (TNM), both offering 4G data rates.

Credit cards are not widely used in Malawi so as a student, you will need to have enough cash on you at all times.


Language and Culture

Malawi uses English as its official language and the majority of the urban population are able to communicate using the language. The most common local language is Chichewa, which is spoken accross the country. Malawi is a mixture of ethnic groups with equally diverse sets of cultural practices and norms rooted in mutual-respect, friendliness, sharing and unity. Communities in both rural and urban areas socialize and maintain close relationships.


Higher Education in Malawi

Malawi has a robust higher education sector served by both public (government-funded) universities, technical colleges and private institutions offering a wide range of specializations and vocational training.

There are four government-funded univesities that admit students who have atleast attained the Malawi Schools Certificate of Education (equvalent to O-Levels). These are the University of Malawi (UNIMA), Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Mzuzu University (MZUNI) and Malawi University of Science and Technology (MUST) The Government also runs a number of community colleges, institutes and vocational training centers.

Students can also choose from the many accredited private universities and colleges offering a variety of courses. Typical tuition fees for private universities in Malawi range from MK500,000 (US$670) to MK2,500,000 (US$3,500) per annum for well established private institutions.

The higher education sector is regulated by the Malawian government through the National Council For Higher Education (NCHE). The council registers and accredits institutions to ensure and maintain quality.


Visa And Study Permit

Foreign students are required to obtain study permits to study in Malawi. Study permits can be obtained from the Malawi Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services by submitting an online applicatioin on the Malawi ePermits Portal. You will be requred to submit the following to succesfully obtain your permit:

  1. Passport-sized photo
  2. Scanned copy of your passport (data page)
  3. Letter of admission from your institution in Malawi
  4. Cover letter
  5. Application processing fee of US$100 (as of Jan 2020)
* Permits for study and research students may vary. Check with the immigration department for the latest requirements.


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