Talks attract large crowds

ONCE again, the talks at the Star Education Fair 2011 were a hit with both students and their parents.

Parent Surinder Kaur said that she found the session on Accountancy highly informative.

“Although my son is probably not going to go into this field, I found the talk beneficial because I had no clue as to what accountancy was all about.

“In fact, looking at all the options available, I may decide to go back to school myself!” she said.

Sunway University’s School of Business head Assoc Prof Dr Foo Yin Fah explained that accountants these days do more than just balancing books.

“In today’s complex business world, you need to know mathematical models in order to handle things like risk management.

“You also need to be a good communicator, think critically and take an interest in world affairs, as you need to be a leader - the days of accountants being reclusive number crunchers are long gone,” he said.

This was further reinforced by fellow speakers — Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) Malaysia country head Jennifer Lopez-Gomez and BDO managing partner Datuk Gan Ah Tee.

Kicking off the session on Architecture and Law was Taylor’s University School of Architecture, Building and Design dean Tony Liew Voon Fun, who described the history and development of architecture.

“Architecture can be said to be the art and science of designing buildings,” he said.

Liew added the reason architecture courses are longer than most other degrees is because of the level of training involved.

“Architects are trained to look at things from every angle as well as to gather inspiration from a variety of resources,” he said.

Malaysian Institute of Architects president Boon Chee Wee said these skills enabled architects to branch beyond their own field of speciality.

Meanwhile, INTI International University’s School of Law head Jeyanthi Arumugam said a law degree would be ideal for those who enjoy analysing issues.

“This process of questioning and reasoning out arguments is a crucial part of being a law student,” she said.

With over 20 years of experience in the field, senior industrial relations lawyer Datuk Thavalingam C. Thavarajah related personal and humorous anecdotes of his life as a lawyer, adding that it required quick thinking, confidence and “a little bit of acting”..

The talks on Options after SPM and Funding Higher Education received overwhelming response. Student Sin Choon Yiee who came in late was happy to catch the talk given by Studylink Sdn Bhd general manager Jerry Tan and Andrew Lau from Leaderonomics at the back of the hall.

During his talk, Tan urged parents and students to consider taking up non-traditional career paths.

“Very few students would want to try their hands at pet grooming even though it is a very lucrative business,” he said.

Students Fatin Azzahra Lokman and Hilda Hamisam, both 17, learnt about the subjects they needed in order to fulfil the academic requirements of courses at different universities.

Meanwhile, Lau advised students to start planning for their careers as soon as they completed Form Three.

“Take up leadership positions in school societies and clubs. Only then will you be able to pick up skills that will help you to be a head above the rest in the working world,” he stressed.

Dr Chong Chien Fatt, who represented the Institution of Engineers, Malaysia, pointed out that engineers were responsible for most of the world’s innovations – from space flights to hip replacements and skyscrapers, adding that the job also involved the upkeep and maintenance of equipment.

Dr Chan Tuck Leong, a manager at Petronas, said that engineers could not afford to be choosy about locations as many plants were away from cities.

“This applies especially to chemical engineers in oil and gas as you might have to work on an offshore platform,” he said.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman vice-president Prof Dr Lee Sze Wei pointed out that although female students outnumbered their male counterparts at university, this did not apply to Engineering courses.

“Perhaps there is perception that males are better suited to the field due to the nature of the job,” he said.

Malaysian Medical Association deputy secretary Dr Kuljit Singh – a nine-year veteran speaker at the fair — used an orangutan to drive home some salient points during his talks on “A doctor’s life”.

He expressed shock at the “perceived” monetary perks that motivated students to pursue medicine.

“Many people are quick to associate medicine with financial rewards but if you really want to be rich, become a businessman, set up a hospital and hire doctors,” he said.

Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) member Dr Milton Lum warned parents not to force their children to take up Medicine.

Emphasising the moral contract between the profession and society, Dr Lum said that “sick doctors” or medical practitioners with no conviction or aptitude for the service, were often those who were pressured into studying medicine.

“There are many qualities a doctor should have such as compassion, competence and commitment, among others,” he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s (UKM) deputy dean of undergraduate affairs and community relations Prof Dr Zaleha Abdullah Mahdy advised students to be careful when selecting a medical school, and urged them to check whether MMC recognised the foreign medical schools they might want to attend.

Universiti Malaya lecturer Assoc Prof Dr David Ngeow told the audience that there was more to dentistry than fillings and extractions.

“Like medicine, we (dentists) are treating people first – not a disease,” he said.

To work as a media planner, one has to be an out-of-the-box thinker and a strategic planner at the same time, said Margaret Lim, during her talk on Mass Communications.

She said the media industry was constantly changing and players in the field had to keep up with the times. In terms of qualifications for the job, she said that any graduate from a Marketing, Commerce, or Business Administration background could be suited to the role, provided they have the right attitude.

The Star deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin spoke on a career in journalism.

Inspiring the audience to make a difference through writing, Soo said, “As a journalist you have a chance to make your voice known, and it is an opportunity to see the world and make a difference.”

The StarEducation columnist Sunny Yee made theories and concepts seem simple when he spoke on Scoring in SPM Physics and Additional Mathematics.

Yee said many students fail because of their study techniques. As for Additional Mathematics, Yee said that the secret to obtaining a good grade in the SPM examination is through accuracy and speed.

At the talk on Funding Higher Education, Star Publications (M) Bhd marketing services (Promotions and Star Education Fund) manager Susanna Kuan said applicants should have reasonably good results to apply for the scholarships.

“However, you don’t need to be a straight As students. You will win some points if you are active in sports or co-curricular activities,” she said.

Many students and their parents later visited the Star Education Fund booth to obtain more information and pick up application forms.

Another speaker Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange Education USA Advising Centre coordinator Doreen John said financial aid was the last thing that any educational institutions would ever consider cutting,

For those who were interested to apply to schools in the United States, students could reduce their expenditure by applying to schools that were less expensive.

“The costs of studying in private schools may be higher but you may find more scholarship programmes there,” she said.

National Higher Education Fund Corp­oration (PTPTN) loan department senior assistant manager Zubir Che Embi said applicants should read the procedures carefully before applying for the loan.

British Council Malaysia education marketing and promotion manager Patricia Hor said information and video interviews with past Chevening scholars had been posted on facebook to be shared with applicants who were interested in the scholarship programme.

Related Stories: Quality education from fundA plethora of choices

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