IT takes five years to become an architect, much like the time it takes to become a doctor. But the time-frame is justified as architects are expected to possess a high level of knowledge, accuracy and responsibility.
Those pursuing the course must surely have enough passion for it to undertake such an arduous journey when there are easier paths to success.
However, they will find that at the end of it all, being recognised as a professional architect is worth the struggle.
The good news is that Alif Creative Academy has made the journey a little shorter with its Alif Pathway.
SPM school-leavers who complete its three-year Diploma in Architecture course can go straight into the third year of Melbourne University's Bachelor of Architecture Programme.
“After their diploma studies here, they can transfer credits to Melbourne University which is rated as one of the top architecture schools in Australia,” says Alif's head of marketing and information technology Eugene Cheong.
Cheong explains that this would shave off one whole year of degree studies. “It also translates into savings in terms of ringgit and sen as students need only spend three years in Melbourne instead of five,” he adds.
He explains that architectural education is an attractive field as it is the foundation for many design-related careers, such as architecture, interior design, landscape planning, project management, property management and draughtsmanship.
“However, it is just unfortunate that Malaysia's public universities cannot offer places to all those interested in the field,” he laments.
“The good news is that there will always be room for professional architects in the country as there are only about 1,600 registered members in the Persatuan Akitek Malaysia,” he adds.
To get into the Alif Pathway, SPM school-leavers can apply to enter the Diploma in Architecture programme with credits in English and Mathematics.
''While STPM and A Level results may not guarantee you a place in the University of Melbourne, those in the diploma programme with a minimum grade B are assured of a place,” he says, adding that the college expects its students to work hard to make that grade.
“Therefore I would advise SPM school- leavers interested in architecture to go straight into the diploma programme instead of spending two years doing STPM or A-Levels and not being assured of a place in university.”
In other words, an SPM school leaver need only study three years locally and three years overseas instead of pursuing (pre-university) studies for two years locally and another five years overseas to get that architecture degree.
“They would save about RM50,000 to RM60,000 per year, which is the money spent on fees alone overseas,” Cheong says.
Cheong is proud that Alif was recognised as one of the top architectural schools in the region by the university.
“Our architecture diploma has been given the same recognition alongside Singapore Polytechnic, City University of Hong Kong and the Catholic University of Parahayangan,” Cheong says, adding that the dean of Melbourne University's School of Architecture visits regularly to ensure the syllabus taught is compatible to the university's.
Studying at Alif offers many advantages, such as state-of-the-art facilities and being taught by lecturers who are also practising architects.
“We also place our students on industrial attachment stints with architectural firms so they can gain real world knowledge and experience,” Cheong says.
“The other advantage of our Diploma in Architecture programme is that students can opt to take a break after graduating instead of going straight into the degree programme.
“Sometimes we understand that students may have financial constraints or they may prefer to work and gain experience,” he says, adding that whatever the reason, they could pick up where they left off and go to Melbourne later.
Even Diploma in Interior Architecture graduates from Alif are able to transfer to Melbourne University through a bridging programme where they need to top up with an extra six months.
“The Interior Architecture (or Interior Design) programme at Alif is an upgraded programme with added architectural elements to enhance its syllabus.”
Cheong is pleased that its pioneer group of students who enrolled four years ago is graduating and that they are enrolling in Melbourne University this year.
“Since that first batch, our enrolment has grown and we hope to accept more students in the coming intakes,” he says.
In fact, the recent Star Education Fair 2003 in Kuala Lumpur, in which Alif took part, saw many enquiries and sign-ups for its programmes. “We were simply overwhelmed by the response,” adds Cheong.
Alif is also well-known for its other courses, including Graphic Design, Multimedia, and Furniture Design, in which students need only spend one year overseas studying for their Bachelor Degree.
This year, Alif is offering four diploma programme scholarships under Tier Two of the Star Education Fund: one each for Graphic Design (RM20,000), Multimedia (RM20,000), Interior Architecture (RM35,000) and Architecture (RM35,000).
The scholarships cover the fees for the whole course duration.
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