Specialist in design

DESIGN is no longer the preserve of academically weak students. This is the opinion of PJ College of Art & Design principal Toh Chee Lip who adds that design is now attracting high flyers drawn to the challenges of a career in the field. 

He says: “Design has become more complex and sophisticated. Students are working in hi-tech environments and designers play a very important role in shaping our lives. Designers were previously known as commercial artists but now they work side by side with other professionals and provide consultancy services.” 

Toh feels that art and design courses need to be promoted in a bigger way to attract even more good students. The college is well placed to campaign for art and design, having been in the business for almost 20 years. 

It believes in training students who can fit well in industry and it offers diploma programmes which are designed to equip students with the knowledge, understanding and relevant skills for a successful career in the creative and design industry. 

The college is a small and specialised institution, it offers only three courses – Diploma in Graphic Design, Diploma in Interior Design and Diploma in Interactive Multimedia Design. All are approved by the National Accreditation Board (LAN) and take three years to complete. 

Says Toh: “We are small by choice and have enrolled a manageable number of students to ensure the quality delivery of our courses. Toh is proud of the college’s high pass rate and says that of four students taken in, three will eventually graduate. He adds that parents should look into this rather than just the size of the college. 

TOH: 'We are small and specialised art and design college.'

“Some colleges are only interested in enrolling as many students as they can without considering the dropout rate.” 

At the college, a common foundation is incorporated into each diploma programme. “Through the one-year foundation we are able to assess a student’s aptitude, ability and interest in design. Students are given time to choose their specialisation in either graphic, multimedia or interior design,’’ Toh says. 

The college's managing director, David Liew, says it is proud of its lecturer to student and facility to student ratios. “The norm is about one lecturer to 25 students but here it is about one to 10. The college maintains a low student-lecturer ratio to ensure that every student gets individual attention. 

“There are ample facilities here for students in terms of computer labs. There is no overcrowding. Student use of facilities and the Internet is not limited to certain times. They don’t have to register to make use of our facilities. When you limit students’ use of facilities, you are constraining their learning.” 

Toh says the college is especially known for its Interior Design course. “Interior Design can be considered our forte, we were one of the first to establish the course and our students have never had a problem finding jobs. We also work closely with professional bodies.” 

Although students from the college can further their studies to degree level at several British and Australian universities, the college does not have specific arrangements with any one institution. 

“We do not believe in limiting our students to certain universities only. About 5% of our students go on to further their studies to degree level. Most prefer to join the workforce for a few years before upgrading themselves as design is very much a vocational qualification.” 

The universities students have transferred to include: Swinburne University of Technology, Australia. Wanganui School of Design/Waikato University, New Zealand, Northumbria University and University of Central England in Britain. 

Among the new developments is the introduction of a Diploma in Architecture Design & Technology which will prepare students for a job in the fast expanding architectural and building construction industry. 

Inspite of that, the fees at the college are less than half of what bigger colleges charge. A diploma programme costs between RM7,500 to RM10,630 a year as tuition fees are kept as low as possible to make it affordable. 

The college’s location in Jalan Barat, Petaling Jaya, is also a plus point as it is accessible to students living in KL, PJ and even Klang because of its location (opposite PJ Hilton) near the Federal Highway and the Asia Jaya LRT station.  

It is a member of the Metropolitan College Group, which also owns Metropolitan College in Subang Jaya, Selangor, and Mont Kiara International School in KL. 

Students interviewed say they enrolled at the college due the location, affordable fees and excellent infrastructure. Second-year graphic design student Malar Devi Balakrishnan said that she always thought that graphic design was an easy course, “but now I realise that it is extremely challenging.” 

For Ana Diana Alphonse, it was her cousin’s recommendation that made up her mind. “My cousin is studying here and I was attracted by the reasonable fees charged and the nice environment,’’ she said. 

Students are required to undergo compulsory three-month, hands-on practical training during their third-year of studies to gain experience and exposure.  

The college has four intakes a year: January, April, July and September.  

PJ College of Art and Design is contributing three scholarships worth RM84,000 for various programmes to the Star Education Fund 2004.  

Log onto http://thestar.com.my/education/colleges/scholarships.html for details and an application form. 

Or, send a stamped (40 sen) self-addressed envelope (25cm x 30cm) to The Secretary, The Star Education Fund, c/o Star Publications (M) Bhd, P O Box 9116, Kelana Jaya, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, to obtain an application form. Applications must reach The Star by March 12. 

For more information, visit the college at No 21 Jalan Barat, 46200 Petaling Jaya; call 03-7957 2000 or fax 03-7952 1628. You can also visit its website at www.pjcd.edu.my 

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