ALMOST all students are choosing to fly the coop and go overseas for their studies. And why not – for the cultural experiences and exposure that you get abroad.
Management marketing student Ryonn Leong from Metropolitan College, however, decided to stay back in Malaysia to complete a 3+0 degree, instead of going over to Curtin University of Technology, Perth.
“I think I actually get more here,” he says. “Things are on a much smaller scale here but the advantage is that we are in touch with lecturers a lot more. We need to go out to work with businesses for our (marketing) course, and it’s a lot easier to work through contacts that we already have here in Malaysia.
“My friends who have gone over to Perth have said that they’re having problems.
“You know, being Asian can make it more difficult working with businesses there; I think that people there still have certain misconceptions about us. Things are a lot more approachable over here.”
Staying back has proven valuable for Ryonn who has had a real leg up in the business world through his work with a magazine publisher in Malaysia.
As part of the management marketing course, students are required to approach real companies, source them for information and conduct industry analysis before giving their own recommendations and suggestions for improvements in their marketing strategies.
The magazine publisher eventually used a marketing questionnaire which Ryonn and his team members had put forward, took on their ideas for putting on events at Nuovo and Beach Club, and even gave them goody bags.
“We are actually suggesting solutions to these companies free of charge. It’s like we’re free business consultants,” says Ryonn, adding that students have also approached other big companies like Carlsberg and Adidas.
All the business courses run within Metropolitan are Curtin University or RMIT University degree programmes. Syllabuses follow the same curriculum as in Australia, and students are examined by and graduate with degrees from those respective universities.
On whether or not they think distance is a problem, Ryonn says there can be problems with time frames as they sometimes have to wait for information to be passed over from Curtin. “However, it’s not really a problem. Things are on a small scale here at Metropolitan but it doesn’t mean that we lose contact with Curtin. Actually, we have the advantage of getting the diversity of being here while also being in contact with Curtin.”
Comparatively, Metropolitan College, set within a large student village between several other colleges, is quite small but the atmosphere is surprisingly cosy and students look well primed for the business world.
Though it is pitted against strong competition from the sudden growth of business courses in private colleges throughout the country, chief executive of academic affairs and academic dean of the Curtin programmes Goh Kek Seng reckons that the college has retained a strong foothold in the area.
“Business is one of the most popular twinning programmes, but we have been able to stay strong because we have kept ourselves specialised and focused on business alone. We have made our brand business.”
The college ensures that courses are updated every semester in line with developments within Curtin or RMIT. Also, lecturers from the Australian universities come in to teach for a week for every subject and through meetings with both students and local lecturers assess the course to better streamline it to the main syllabus.
Goh explains that though there were only five majors offered under the Curtin University programmes when they first started twinning with Curtin, there are now more than 90 business majors offered within the college, with topics as diverse as global economics, logistics management, property management, e-commerce and financial planning.
Of the total 24 modules that they have to complete to graduate, students have a free reign in selecting 10 subjects of their choice, giving them the option to diversify or specialise as much as they want within their studies.
The broad number of subjects on offer compared to the small student population will mean that sometimes very few students choose to take a certain paper, but the college ensures that every student is given that opportunity to pursue what they want. “Law banking, for example, only had three students last year but it is our commitment to still offer it to students,” explains Goh.
Metropolitan does indeed cater very highly for its students. Students are not only given a free run of subjects to choose from, but also have the option to choose whether or not, and when, they want to go abroad to study at the partner universities.
Students must complete their first year locally, but thereafter, can choose to go abroad in their second, or final year, in 1+2, 2+1 or even 1+1+1 arrangements, according to when and for how long they wish to be overseas.
Metropolitan also have a very innovative scholarship and funding system for its students.
Based on academic excellence, SPM holders who apply to the college will receive a RM500 fee waiver for every distinction they get, for up to five subjects. Students who have completed pre-university courses, such as STPM, A-Levels, UEC, Canadian Pre-University, and South Australian Matriculation are also eligible for this rebate for every distinction.
Should a student, for example, get eight distinctions, the college will give him RM4,000 for his tuition fees. Furthermore, these academic excellence rewards are not restricted to a certain number of applicants. If every applicant to the college has distinctions, the college remains committed to give every student the monetary award they deserve.
Further scholarships offered by Curtin and RMIT are also on offer for outstanding students hoping to go abroad to either Perth or Melbourne to study.
Metropolitan College is contributing seven scholarships worth RM110,598 to the Star Education Fund 2004. For application forms or for more information, log on to http://thestar.com.my/education/colleges/scholarships.html.
You can also 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.
For enquiries, call 03-7967 1388 ext 1642.