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Brunei Darussalam

Chapter 1: Higher Education System

Section 1.1.: Schematic Description of the Higher Education System

Higher Education System of Brunei Darussalam

There are 11 higher institutions in Brunei Darussalam consisting of 5 public and 6 private higher institutions as follows:

  1. Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD) –
  2. Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) –
  3. Universiti Islam Sultan Sharif Ali (UNISSA ) –
  4. Kolej Perguruan Ugama Seri Begawan (KUPUSB ) –
  5. Politeknik Brunei (PB) –
  6. Kemuda Institute (KI)-
  7. Micronet International College (MIC) –
  8. Laksmana College of Business (LCB) –
  9. Kolej International Graduate Studies (IGS) –
  10. Cosmopolitan College of Commerce and Technology (CCCT) –
  11. Brunei Darussalam Institute of Certified Public Accountants (BICPA) –


Section 1.2: Description of Higher Education System

Foundation Degree / Studies / Program / Level 5 Diploma

An Advanced Diploma and Foundation Degree awarded at BDQF Level 5 consist of programmes designed to facilitate student successful progression to the full degree or directly to employment. These degrees focus on learning within a work context, underpinned by both vocational and academic understanding, and enables learners to demonstrate learning outcomes that are explicitly relevant to employment and professional requirements. An Advanced Diploma or Foundation Degree recognizes technician, technologist, managerial and professional level skills and knowledge.

Bachelor Degree

A Bachelor Degree awarded at BDQF Level 6 is a systematic, research-based, coherent, introduction to the knowledge, ideas, principles, concepts, basic research methods and to the analytical and problem-solving techniques of a recognized major subject or subjects. A programme leading to this qualification usually involves major studies in which significant knowledge is available. Programme content is taken to a significant depth and progressively developed to a high level, which can provide a basis for postgraduate study and professional careers.

A Master Degree at BDQF Level 7 are normally designed to extend the principal subject or subjects of the qualifying degree or may build on relevant knowledge and skills derived from advanced occupational experience. A Master Degree contains a significant element of supervised research, normally embodied in a thesis, dissertation or substantial research paper.

A Doctoral Degree awarded at BDQF Level 8 is a research qualification that is at a level significantly higher than the Master Degree, reflecting scholarly independence, and is awarded in recognition of research which has made a substantial and original contribution to knowledge.


Section 1.3: Number of Higher Education Institutions

Eleven (11)

  • Five (5) Public Higher Education Institutions
  • Six (6) Private Higher Educations Institutions


Section 1.4 Number of Students in Higher Education

There are a total of 11,001 students (Nov 2018) in higher education with 9,776 from public higher education institutions and 1,225 students from private higher education institutions.
There are 10.10% of higher education students from the total student population.

(Level 5 & 6)
(Level 7 & 8)
Number of students by Levels of Education
Number of foreign students enrolled in Full Degree Programmes
Number of outgoing exchange students with credit transfer
Number of incoming exchange students with credit transfer

Source: Higher Education Division, Ministry of Education


Section 1.5: Structure of Academic Year

In general, all higher education institutions have two semesters in one academic year.
The first semester starts in late July/early August, and the second semester starts in early January. In total there are 18 weeks in each semester that comprised of 14 weeks of teaching period, 1 week of mid-semester break, 1 week of revision week and 2 weeks of examination. There is an inter-semester break in December for 5 weeks and a long vacation period for 11 weeks from May to July.


Section 1.6: National Qualifications Framework (or Similar)

Brunei Darussalam Qualifications Framework (BDQF) comprises eight (8) levels hierarchy covering qualifications in the school, technical and higher education sectors. The BDQF is used as a tool to develop guidelines that classify qualifications based on criteria agreed at the national level and benchmarked with international good practice.

The framework explains the level of learning, achieved learning outcomes of study areas, and a credit system based on student academic load. This criterion applies to all qualifications recognised in Brunei Darussalam, thereby integrating and linking all qualifications recognised within the country.

 Schools Sector Qualications  Technical and Vocational EducationSector Qualifications  Higher EducationSector Qualifications
– Doctoral Degree
– Master’s Degree
– Post Graduate Diploma
– Post Graduate Certificate
– Bachelor’s Degree
– Advanced Diploma
– Higher National Diploma (HND)
– Foundation Degree
– Advanced Diploma
– Higher National
– Diploma (HND)
–  GCE “A” Level
–  IGCSE “A” Level
– IB Diploma
– Diploma
– Higher National Technical Education
– Certificate (HNTec)
– GCE “O” Level (grades A-C)
– IGCSE and GCSE “O” Level 1 (grade A-C)
– SPU (Grades A-C)
– BTEC level 2 Diploma
– Skills Certificate 3 (SC3)
– National Technical Education Certificate (NTec)
– GCE “O” Level (grades D-E)
– IGCSE  “O” Level  (grade D-E)
– SPU (Grades D)
– BTEC level 2 Extended Certificate
– Skills Certificate 2 (SC2)
– Industrial Skills Qualifications (ISQ)
– BTEC Level 1 Introductory Certificate
– Skills Certificate 1 (SC1)

Source: Brunei Darussalam Qualifications Framework 2013


Section 1.7: Learning Outcomes in Higher Education

The HE curricula are designed based on learning outcomes stipulated in the BDQF. The level descriptors have been developed for all the eight (8) levels of the BDQF:

  1. Knowledge and Understanding;
  2. Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding;
  3. Generic Cognitive Skills;
  4. Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills, and
  5. Autonomy, Accountability and working with others (the level of independence).


Section 1.8: Admission Requirements to Higher Education

The following are the admission requirements for all applicants regardless of foreign or local:

Level 5:
Minimum Five (5) Credits in GCE ‘O’ Level or its equivalent OR National Diploma ND (Level 4 in NQF) in related field with GPA ≥ 2.0 (based on a 3 points system) OR Any other equivalent qualifications accredited by Brunei Darussalam National Accreditation Council (BDNAC) AND Pass in an interview and/or test conducted by Politeknik Brunei.

Entry Requirement for Mature Applicants:
Academic Qualification: Two GCE ‘O’ Levels with grade C or its equivalent* OR Technical Qualification/Training: Equivalent to ‘O’ Level + relevant training WITH Not less than 5 Years working experience in relevant field.
Applicants who do not meet any of the above requirements may seek Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) where applicable. This approval will be on case-by-case basis. * Subject required will be based on the programme applied for.

Level 6:   

A. General Language Entry Requirements:

At least a Grade C6 in English Language at GCE ‘O’ Level Examination or a grade ‘B’ in IGCSE English (as a Second Language) or an IELTS score of 6.0 General Requirement or a TOEFL minimum overall score of 550 or a pass in the UBD Bridging English Course or Band B2 in the UBD English Proficiency Test.

Additional requirement for application to UNISSA is as follows:

  • Passed Primary School Religious Certificate (Sijil Sekolah-Sekolah Rendah Ugama Brunei) examination or its equivalent including Penilaian Sekolah Rendah Certificate examination for applicants from Institut Tahfiz al-Qur’an Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (ITQSHHB) and Arabic Schools, or equivalent qualifications recognised by University Senate. (for English Medium programmes).
  • Pass al-Qur’an al-Karim recitation test conducted by the University. (compulsory for all programmes)

B. General Entry Admission requirement:

  • A minimum of 160 points for two (2) ‘A’ Level passes or 200 points for three (3) ‘A’ Level passes in relevant subjects ‘A’ Level Qualification or its equivalent
  • OR International Baccalaureate Diploma or International Baccalaureate International Certificate with a minimum score 24 points
  • OR Higher National Diploma
  • OR at least five (5) years working experience; and Applicants with at least one (1) ‘A’ Level in a relevant subject
  • OR five (5) merits and/or Prior Work Experience distinctions in HND, or its equivalent.


Section 1.9: Grading System

  • The number of credits for each subject is determined at institutional level based on the standardised credit system.
  • Subjects are categorised into lectures, tutorial, exercise, experiments, practical training or skill sessions (internships). Classes are included in any of these forms or in a combination of them, and credits are conferred for successful compilation of the classes. Further details need to be achieved from each institution concerned.
  • Student credit transfer between local universities and other foreign universities is done on a case by case basis.

A Minimum credit students should complete to get (based on BDQF):

  • Level 5 Diploma = 90 credit
  • Bachelor’s Degree = 120 credit
  • Masters Degree = 40 credit
  • PhD Degree = no given credit value

Grading Scheme for Level 5 Diploma

Grade Point
% Range
D [Distinction]
80% – 100%
M [Merit]
65% – 79%
P [Pass]
50% – 64%
F [Fail]
0% –  49%
Grading Scheme for Level 6 & 7 Bachelor & Master Degree

In general, the degree (Bachelor and Master by Coursework programmes) operates on a system in which students read modules and gain modular credits. The number of modular credits reflects the workload required for each module. The degree works on a Cumulative Grade Point Average (cGPA) system (see below):

Grade Grade point Range
4.0 – 5.0
3.0 – 4.0
2.33 – 3.0
1.5 – 2.0
Conditional Pass

For master degree by coursework student must maintain a CGPA of not less than 2.5.


Section 1.10: Tuition Fee System for International Students

In general, there are different fees for different programs and type of degrees offered by institutions which can be accessed via the following link:


For undergraduates:
BND3000 – BND 40, 000

For postgraduates:
BND 3000 – BND 78,000

Scholarships are also available for international students: via Brunei Darussalam Government Scholarship, UBD Graduate Scholarship and UBD Bursary (all details in the link provided) under ‘Scholarships’ tab.

For undergraduates:
BND 6000 – BND 10,000

For postgraduates:
BND 5,250 – BND 15,000

For undergraduates:
BND 12,000 – BND 15,000

For postgraduates:
BND 4000 – BND 9000


General Course Fee for courses run by Private Higher Education Institutions based on BDQF Level per programme as follows:

BDQF Level
Course Fee Range
B$ 29,000 – B$ 35,000
B$ 10,000 – B$ 11,000


Section 1.11: Graduation Requirements and/or Qualification Awarding Requirements

A Minimum credit students should complete to get: (based on BDQF)

  • Level 5 Diploma = 90 credits
  • Bachelor’s Degree = 120 credits
  • Masters Degree = 40 credits
  • PhD Degree = no given credit value

In general, the classification of Bachelor degrees to be awarded is as follows:

  • Bachelor’s Degree (First Class Honours)
  • Bachelor’s Degree (Second Class Honours Upper Division)
  • Bachelor’s Degree (Second Class Honours Lower Division)
  • Bachelor’s Degree (Third Class Honours)
  • Bachelor’s Degree (Pass)

For the Degree of Master (by Research or by Coursework) may be awarded at the following levels:

  • Pass
  • Pass with Merit (for Master by Coursework only)
  • Pass with Distinction.


Section 1.12: Relevant Current and Prospective Reforms in Higher Education

Not applicable.


Chapter 2: Quality Assurance in Higher Education

Section 2.1: Quality Assurance Body in Higher Education


Brunei Darussalam National Accreditation Council (BDNAC) is a sole accrediting body in Brunei Darussalam responsible on all matters related to the assessment and accreditation of qualifications recognised by the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. BDNAC has the missions to ensure and maintain the quality and standard of educational credentials in accordance with the provisions set by the Government of His Majesty.

In general, every Higher Education Institutions do have external quality assurance (International) bodies depending on programs, faculty and schools. Examples are The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) accreditation of the UBD Accounting and Finance programme, Institutions of Civil Engineers (ICE), Institutions of Chemical Engineers, (IchemE), British Computer Society (BCS).


Section 2.2: Quality Assurance System

Study programme
Further explanation
For Public Higher Education Institutions
For Private Higher Education Institutions


Programmes that are offered at Private Higher Education Institutions are accredited and in line with the Brunei Darussalam Qualifications Framework in terms of its recognition.

There are six (6) Private Higher Education Institutions in Brunei Darussalam offering courses ranging from BDQF Level 2 to BDQF Level 6. Further information is available at the link below:


Chapter 3: Credit System in Higher Education

Section 3.1: Description of Credit System

A Minimum credit students should complete to get (based on BDQF):

  • Level 5 Diploma = 90 credit,
  • Bachelor’s Degree = 120 credit,
  • Masters Degree = 40 credit,
  • PhD Degree = no given credit value.


Section 3.2: Credit Transfer System(s)

The following are the Credit Transfer system used by the UBD:

However, other universities use credit transfer on a case by case basis through various committees to ensure the validity of the credit transfer.


Section 3.3: Additional Information



Section 3.4: Application of Credit System in Higher Education Institutions Obligatory?

A Minimum credit students should complete to get: (based on BDQF):

  • Bachelor Degree = 100 – 140 credits
  • PhD Degree = no given credit value
  • Masters Degree = 40 credits,
  • Bachelor’s Degree = 120 credits,
  • Level 5 Diploma = 90 credits,

For Higher Education Instititions minimum credit range:

  • Bachelor Degree = 100 – 140 credits
  • Masters Degree = 48 – 188 credits
  • PhD = no credit value


Section 3.5: Number of Credits per Academic Year/Semester

A Minimum credit students should complete to get (based on BDQF):

  • Level 5 Diploma = 90 credits,
  • Bachelor’s Degree = 120 credits,
  • Masters Degree = 40 credits,
  • PhD Degree = no given credit value.


Section 3.6: Number of Credits per Higher Education Cycle

Forty (40) hours of notional student learning time is valued as one credit for the Higher Education Sector qualification. Credit is the quantitative measure that represents the volume of learning or academic load to attain the set learning outcomes. Academic load is a quantitative measure of all learning activities required to achieve a defined set of learning outcomes. These activities include lectures, tutorial, seminar, practical, self-study, retrieval of information, research, fieldwork, as well as preparing for and sitting of an examination.

For certain universities, for example, one four modular credit module (4 MC) is equivalent to 4 contact hours per week and 8 to 10 workload hours per week. Students take a minimum of four 4-MC modules per semester and take 4 years to complete their undergraduate Bachelor’s degree.


Section 3.7: Description of Credit Unit

Under the BDQF, the level descriptors set out the characteristic generic outcomes of every level. They are intended to provide a general, shared understanding of every level. They are not intended to be totally prescriptive or comprehensive statements, and there is no expectation that every unit and qualification should have all the characteristics. The level descriptors are in Appendix 1 as attached.

Last updated in 2018



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