Although the fair – at the Putra World Trade Centre last weekend – has always attracted a large number of students and parents shopping for suitable courses and institutions to enrol in, the response this year was phenomenal.
On the first day, the fair which was opened by Education Director-General Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat, attracted more than 50,000 visitors and the figure was more or less the same on the second day.
Competition to attract students was rife and could be seen from the great lengths many exhibitors went to – from spending tens of thousands of ringgit on attractive booths and conducting games and contests a la the “Wheel of Fortune” to handing out small souvenirs like bags, pens and bookmarks.
The exhibitors ranged from public higher educational institutions and private colleges to banks and financial institutions offering loans as well as private education and career counselling organisations.
Also present to field questions and queries about recognition of institutions and courses were officers from the Education Ministry’s private education department.
First time participants at this year’s fair were the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Royal Malaysian Army (Mindef), both of whose booths were deluged by visitors – some genuinely interested and others naturally curious.
“We received many enquiries about our training programmes and about working in the army too. We brought with us about 2,000 brochures as well as souvenirs and most of them were gone by the end of the first day!” said a Royal Malaysian Navy Lieutenant on duty.
“Some students, curious about the nature of the job, wanted to know whether they would get to travel if they enlisted,” he said.
Like the lieutenant, many first-time exhibitors were pleasantly surprised by the huge crowd that came to the fair. Old-timers were equally pleased, not just with the response from potential students but also the nature of the enquiries.
“Students are definitely more focused. Although accompanied by their parents, the students were the ones asking the questions!” said Jodie Ray Dell, lecturer at FTMS-De Montfort University.
“In past years, they (students) would leave the questions to their parents,” added Dell.
“We also noticed an increased interest in professional programmes like the ACCA and CIMA, etc. There were also enquiries from working professionals who were interested in taking up specific professional papers to upgrade their skills.”
Not short on visitors was the Star Education Fund booth. This year, the fund has 300 scholarships worth RM7mil from 35 educational institutions on offer.
Four institutions joined the fund for the first time this year – Edith Cowan University, Australia; Institut Teknologi Maklumat Nirmal, Ipoh; PJ College of Art & Design, Petaling Jaya; and Sentral Education, Penang.
The other contributors to the fund are: Alif Creative Academy, Asia Pacific Institute of Information Technology, Equator Academy of Art, FTMS-De Montfort University, Help Institute, Institute Advertising, Communication and Training, Informatics, Institut Perkim-Goon, Inti College Malaysia, Inti College Penang, KLC Centre for Higher Studies, KDU College, LimKokWing Institute of Creative Technology, and Metropolitan College.
The sponsors include the Malaysian Institute of Integrative Media, Millennium Institute of Technology, Malaysia University of Science and Technology, Nilai College, Penang Medical College, Prime College, Pusat Teknologi dan Pengurusan Lanjutan (Sungai Petani), Rima College, Saito Academy, SAL Group of Colleges, Sedaya International College, SEG International, Stamford College, Sunway College, Taylor’s College, The One Academy and the University of Nottingham in Malaysia.
Apart from the exhibition, there were career and education talks and seminars.
While all the sessions were well attended, the most popular sessions were the career talks on medicine, engineering and information technology as well as the session on “Studying Abroad”.
Amazingly, the SPM Physics and Additional Mathematics seminar by Sunny Yee was packed to the brim even though it was scheduled early on Sunday morning!
Another popular session was the one on English Literature in SPM conducted by retired master teacher Dena How. Although her focus was on SPM Literature, How’s audience comprised younger literature students –– those in Form One and Two – who wanted to get a head-start!
“I think the education fair is just terrific,” said 17-year old Nigel Lee.
“I was glad I had the chance to listen to the career talk on medicine and the medical sciences. The speakers were very clear and helpful and their presentations gave me a lot to think about.”
“Not only did the panel explain the routes to a medical degree, they were also very frank in pointing out the pros and cons of a career in medicine,” he said.
A new addition to this year’s fair was the performing arts showcase, which featured wonderful performances by the Sedaya Chamber Choir, a peacock dance by Inti College students and a fashion show by students of the La Salle International Design School.