By SARAH CHEW
WE are a one-stop agency,” says HELP University College's (HELP) president Dr Paul Chan.
“We train the students and lead them towards a degree, help them budget, give career guidance, and even offer tips on things such as how to dress.
“We also help the students start businesses.”
Dr Chan explains that HELP’s students often intern in established companies such as Ogilvy and Mather, and General Electric, with many eventually ending up employing the best students.
HELP has also set up CAREERsense, which advises graduates on employment and helps to place them in suitable companies.
These days, the university college is looking to enhance the trans-national appeal of its graduates.
“We want to prepare our students for the global world, so we introduce international issues through subjects like politics and philosophy,” says Dr Chan.
“There are also ‘study abroad’ programmes because we want our students to travel.”
Already introduced is a Bachelor of Asian Business Studies. A Bachelor of Chinese Business Studies is in the works because he feels that students need to know more about China, which is an important nation in terms of business opportunities.
Dr Chan points out that there are international students from 80 countries studying in HELP, with 174 from Africa alone. This creates a conducive environment for students to learn about each other's culture and to network.
“The key word here is 'connection'. When students watch the news about Kenya, they should be able to relate to it,” he says.
“They should be able to say: 'My friend comes from there'. Only then will things become real and not just a television programme.”
What sets HELP's graduates apart is the leadership quality and communication skills instilled in students through camps and tutorials, adds Dr Chan.
“We get students to attend training camps to hone their leadership skills,” he says.
“Our staff often participate in these camps and show the way, often taking the lead.
“They try to get close to the students, and to share their feelings and experiences.”
Although he is involved as a tutor in the Masters of Business Administration programme, Dr Chan stresses that he is a facilitator, not a teacher.
“We want students to take ownership of what they learn, so they do not become dependant on the teacher.”
According to HELP senior vice-president Dr Khong Kim Hoong, the university college’s success over the years is best attributed to the focus and vision of the management.
HELP's strength, he says, lies in its social science, business and economics courses because the management comprises educators who are specially trained in these areas.
“That is why we specialise in arts and business programmes.
“Those are our niche areas and we have stuck to our training and expertise,” he adds. “We're educators, not just business operators.”
Among HELP's earliest courses were Business and Accounting programmes. Today, HELP’s degree in accountancy is internationally recognised, with exemptions given to the programme from bodies such as Certified Public Accountants (CPA), the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).
Law and psychology are also fields in which HELP has made a name for itself.
“Currently, our law department has the biggest transfer programme in the university college,” says Dr Khong.
“We partner with prestigious universities in the United Kingdom.
“Our psychology programme is also one of the largest in Malaysia, with an intake of 250 new students every year.”
There are currently plans to move into more specialised areas of existing courses such as hospitality management, fraud management and forensic accounting.
HELP also has a centre for fraud management that collaborates with a university in the United States, and a centre for Islamic business research that gives workshops and seminars to industry professionals.
While academic qualifications may be important, Dr Khong feels that soft skills are essential to create well-rounded students.
“In the past, we had to teach soft skills through co-curricular activities because most of our programmes were twinning programmes.
“Now, we incorporate soft skills into all our courses.”
Students can attend classes that actually teach communication skills, in particular, English language skills, besides trying to master these by getting involved in clubs and societies.
Group marketing and business development acting director Fiona Woo points out that students also engage in community work as part of their courses; this helps them to gain soft skills and enhances community awareness.
“Our law students will give free counselling services to the community.
“It is also compulsory for our psychology students to participate in a youth mentor-mentee programme and work with secondary school students, using a grant from the United Nations,” she says.
All this is in line with HELP's vision to produce graduates who will live a life of significance.
“We believe in education that helps to transform the individual,” says Dr Khong.
“Education should be the enabling tool to help a student 'find' himself in life.”
Did you find this article insightful?