Critical and creative grads


BY ZECH PHARAMOND

Sajilal: Lecturers must prove they can deliver.

IT’S NOT unusual for tourists to walk into FTMS Global. Located just opposite the culture, arts and crafts hub – Central Market – the school’s reception area resembles a comfortable hotel lobby complete with concierge desks.  

“We designed the school to look very professional. We didn’t want students walking into a sterile looking environment. In fact, each of our five floors has a different theme,” says academic head Sajilal Divakaran, 

FTMS which stands for Financial Training Management School is an education group with centres in the United Kingdom, Uganda, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore and Brunei.  

It is also one of the largest providers of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) courses in the world and has been awarded the ACCA premier registered status.  

The ACCA website states that premier registered status carries enhanced recognition and is available to tuition providers which offer a specified range of courses, prepare submission documents in accordance with ACCA's requirements and undergo a pre-registration visit. 

Among the requirements it must meet are the appointment of a designated member of staff to deal with ACCA enquiries, the preparation of detailed lecture plans showing ACCA syllabus coverage during the course, ensuring that students are able to contact tutors within normal office hours, ensuring that tutors have access to up-to-date ACCA manuals for each paper, holding annual ACCA course reviews and achieving pass rates which meet the premier worldwide pass rate criteria. 

FTMS in addition provides an e-learning platform for ACCA courses www.FTMSonline.com that gives students from all over the world online access to internationally renowned accounting qualifications. From this website, students can download audio, text and notes relevant to their studies.  

FTMS has also received recognition from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants through its Learning Through Partnership scheme. The award recognises the high standards of teaching and learning at the school, and its commitment to provide flexible delivery to meet the needs of employers and students. 

Currently, there are four schools at the Kuala Lumpur centre: the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, the School of Professional Accounting and Finance, the School of English and the Business School.  

To add value to the two-year diploma courses, students in computing studies undergo an extra six months of specialisation in topics like networking and database or software engineering. Popular specialisations include computer games technology and computer engineering.  

“We have had numerous companies that come here to conduct interviews. I think this is good because it shows the students what qualities employers look for,” Sajilal comments. 

FTMS sources for lecturers from all over the world including India, Singapore and the United Kingdom. They are industry professionals who are not only qualified on paper but also have a passion for teaching and sharing their knowledge.  

FTMS does not believe in spoonfeeding its students.

“Our lecturers go through six months of probation and must prove they can deliver the course material effectively. We also give preference to those who have Master’s qualifications,” he adds.  

Sajilal says the most important thing is to develop critical thinking in students. In his experience, most new students expect tobe spoonfed lecture notes. Some can memorise whole books and are able to quote the page number of where the information is located. 

“There is so little critical thinking. I think students need to strengthen their mathematics to help develop their problem solving and reasoning skills. I have met programming students who tell me they are scared because they have difficulty figuring out their algorithms which need a lot of logical thinking,” Sajilal says.  

Sajilal is very encouraged when he receives news that his students furthering studies overseas are able to compete against their peers for top honours.  

“Other than experiencing an initial culture shock, our students are able to adjust well. Academics wise, most lecturers overseas are impressed with their work,’’ he says. 

“We have a well stocked library as well as comprehensive online resources which students use for research. We want to train them to be independent,” Sajilal explains. 

But that message also needs to reach parents or guardians who are financing the students. Sajilal says they too need to understand that it is not that teachers are lazy when they ask students to compile their own study notes.  

FTMS graduates have access to PACT International, a company which provides human resource consultancy services. Besides running its own business, PACT also links alumni members to potential employers.  

FTMS’ School of English ensures that the college’s graduates not only possess technical skills but are also competent in English. 

There is a placement test for all students to determine their language proficiency. Depending on their abilities, the school will help students enhance their English for academic purposes and professional pursuits. 

FTMS also ensures its students have access to state-of-the-art facilities including projection systems, multimedia capabilities, smart boards, Internet links and video conferencing for its classrooms and lecture theatres. The computer labs are also equipped with the latest iMacs, computers and workstations. 

FTMS is a contributor to the Star Education Fund. 

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