Students intending to further their education at a public institution of higher learning should consider the newer universities where there are fewer applicants competing for places, said National Association of Private Educational Institutions (Napei) president Dr Mohd Thalha Alithamby.
Speaking on Directions in Higher Education at the Star Education Fair 2003 last week, he urged students to strategise their applications to the institutions by considering several important factors.
“Popular universities will be in high demand and this increases the cut-off points for admission while decreasing your chances of being made an offer if your results are mediocre.”
Dr Mohd Thalha added that students should not limit themselves to only one choice of programme or institution when there are three available options given to students in the application forms.
“However, don’t be led into thinking that a popular institution is the best. Check how the university is ranked regionally and whether it is part of the top 100 universities in Asia and you’ll be surprised to find that some are not in the list.”
Apart from the 16 public universities and university-colleges available locally, students were also urged to consider the option of obtaining a certificate in skills programmes from one of the 12 community colleges and 13 polytechnics in the country.
“These institutions are good options as they provide another route to enrol in a degree programme at any of the local universities,” he said.
Dr Mohd Thalha added that community college tuition fees were fairly low and a certificate from a polytechnic would be recognised for admission into the second year of a three-year degree programme and the third year of a four-year programme.
He said courses in high demand in private institutions are: business- related programmes and accountancy, ICT and software-related studies, engineering courses (especially electronic and mechanical), skills programmes, and industrial art and graphic design.
However, the trend is moving towards many job opportunities in the engineering sector, he said.
In his 40-minute talk, Dr Mohd Thalha presented an overview of the Malaysian Education System from 2001 to 2010, which included the expected demand for higher education in the next few years.
“It is estimated that a total of four million students will enrol in tertiary education in the year 2010 compared to 753,003 this year in both public and private institutions in the country,” he said.
He added that the government would be looking to venture into biotechnology and bioinformatics in its effort to expand the supply of highly skilled and knowledgeable manpower to support a knowledge-based economy.
On guidelines to choose the right course, Dr Mohd Thalha provided students with a few useful tips:
Jason Khoo, 17, who intends to pursue a degree in either business or information technology, found the talk useful and very informative.
“Personally, I would choose an institution based on location and price,” he said.
Form Four student Nur Ilyani Azmi, 15, who does not want to wait until the last minute to decide on her route in higher education, said the talk was enlightening, adding that she would soon decide on applying for either a polytechnic or matriculation programme.
“I might even choose to sit for the STPM as I intend to pursue a degree in biology or medicine,” she said.