THE quest to be the best knows no limit. Taylor’s College president Khoo Soo Peng does not believe in allowing the college to rest on its laurels.
Despite its comfortable spot as one of the country’s leading private education providers, Khoo believes that the college needs constant upgrading – not just its physical structure and infrastructure but also its academic structure.
He says: “The whole world is changing and the education sector is changing along with it. As such, we too must change. For example, as there are so many Bachelor’s degrees in the market, we must offer something extra to stand apart from the crowd.
“Although we have always been mindful of quality, the awareness has heightened and we have put a lot more emphasis on quality assurance, right down to the college’s systems and processes.”
Because of its experience in conducting quality tertiary courses at its various Schools (Hospitality & Tourism, Business, Communication, Built Environment, Computer Science and Information Technology) Taylor’s has big plans for the future and Khoo confirms that the college is being considered for university college status by the Education Ministry.
For the moment, however, a manifestation of this effort is the college’s School of Hospitality and Tourism (TCHT), which recently moved into a spanking new campus at Leisure Commerce Square in Petaling Jaya.
“Our move into the new premises last year has turned out to be an extremely good one.
Not only is the location better and closer to our Subang campus, the facilities are all state-of-the-art. Also, the school is laid out in a way that reflects a top-rate hotel as well as a tour agency. We wanted the school to look like the real thing, so students will be familiar with the environment in which they will be working,” says Khoo.
Formerly located in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur, the Hotel and Tourism School’s new 5,110sqm premises was opened by Culture, Arts and Tourism Minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir on Oct 17 last year. The school is positioning itself as a Regional Centre for Excellence in Hospitality and Tourism Education.
Says Khoo: “We hope to be the best not just in terms of academic resources and programmes but industry and international relevance. We hope to attract foreign students from the region to study here and to provide education and training of the highest quality to neighbouring countries.
“So far, our French degree has managed to attract some foreign students. We even have 12 French students who have chosen to complete a year or more of their degree here at TCHT.”
At present TCHT is the only institution offering a 3+0 foreign degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from the University of Toulouse, France.
Apart from its diploma and degree programmes, TCHT has in the last year offered executive certificate courses for working professionals. Among the courses it has run to date are University Technology Sydney’s Executive Certificate in Events Management, a French Certificate in the Art of Chocolate and another on the Art of Sugar. These courses were very well received by the industry and attended by chefs from top hotels.
Says Khoo: “The courses are aimed at updating professionals on technique and shows that the school is focussed not just on providing training for its students but also those in the industry. Having these professionals in our college is good; they bring with them years of experience and expertise. They also bring the industry into the campus.”
Taylor’s is also building ties with institutions abroad, for instance, Australia’s Edith Cowan University (ECU).
“We are working out ways in which we can collaborate with ECU. We are not yet offering any of their programmes but have created pathways for our students to proceed to get a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree at ECU,” Khoo says.
This diversification is necessary in view of the globalisation of the industry. “It is now a even playing field. We have as much to offer Europe as they have to offer us,” he adds.
Nevertheless, despite diversifying its academic ties, TCHT is resolute in maintaining ties with the French.
“Over the years, the relationship between TCHT and our partner universities, including the University of Toulouse, has develop.
There is a better understanding on our goals and aspirations as well as their roles when working with us for mutual benefit,” says Khoo.
Besides building new and state-of-the-art campuses, Taylor’s is investing heavily in staff development programmes across-the-board. While staff development is the responsibility of every educational institution, private or public, Taylor’s has been driven to do so by its students.
Khoo says: “Every year we give out the Tan Sri Loy scholarships to students who score 7 1As or more in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination. This year, we are giving out 617 awards worth RM2.5mil. We are really pleased because this reflects Taylor’s capacity to attract top students.
“When you have such high achievers, the pressure is on you to deliver. Because of such high-calibre students we are under pressure to offer programmes that are challenging enough. These students want programmes with good universities. We have to provide them with the right environment so they can go on to bigger and better things.”
Taylor’s offers joint programmes with several top international universities, like the University of Sheffield in Britain, University Technology Sydney in Australia, University of Toulouse in France, and many more.
Over the years, the college has also built a strong network with other top-notch universities, paving the way for its students to further their studies at universities like Oxford and Cambridge in Britain, the University of Melbourne in Australia and Wesleyan University in the United States.
Among the initiatives in place for staff upgrading are training stints with the college’s various partner universities.
During these visits, the college’s academic staff are required not just to observe and be trained, but also teach students at the partner university.
To adapt to current demands, Taylor’s has added an extra dimension to some of its popular courses. One such example is its double degree in Business and Computing from University Technology Sydney (UTS) at Taylor’s Business School (TBS). The five-year programme is for students who want a double degree – one in business and another in computing.
“A typical double degree takes about five years to complete. But through the TBS-UTS route, students can get the double-degree in four years, one of which must be spent at UTS’s campus. It is open to Bachelor of Business students who major in information technology,” says Khoo.
Taylor’s College is among stalwart supporters of the Star Education Fund and is contributing six awards worth RM172, 624 this year.