Shopping for study options

  • Education
  • Sunday, 02 Jun 2019

Foo (in blue) with the other student volunteers from Manipal International University.

RONNIE Lai, 25, was glad she made an impromptu visit to the Star Education Fair 2019 last weekend.

The communications executive from Petaling Jaya, said she made it in time for German Educare co-founder Jonathan Lau’s talk on free education in Germany.

“I did not know that Germany provided free education.

“Now I know where to get my Master’s degree once I’ve saved up enough to cover my expenses there,” she said.

Lai added that this was not her first time at the fair.

“I’ve attended several fairs previously and always found the information for myself and younger sibling that we needed. I liked that a career test was always available at the fair,” she said.

Lau’s talk on “How to Study Your Bachelor’s Degree For Free in Germany” was the most popular during the fair.

Having graduated from Germany himself, Lau shared useful tips on studying in the European country.

Noting that Germany is ranked the most attractive study destination in the world by Study.Edu Country Ranking - an international annual analysis on institutions - Lau said it has over 370,000 international students.

“It has over 400 higher learning institutions, which collectively offer more than 190,000 courses.

“There is no tuition fee for bachelor, masters and doctorate degrees in all states in Germany except for Baden-Württemberg, a state in southwest Germany bordering France and Switzerland,” he said.

One of the benefits of studying in Germany, he said, is the job seeking visa.

“Non-native graduates, who have yet to be employed after graduation, can stay in Germany for up to 18 months to seek a job,” said Lau.

He set up German Educare with fellow German graduates to help students understand and further their studies in Germany.

He added that students in Germany can gain working experience while they are studying as they are allowed to work part time for up to 20 hours a week in the field related to their studies.

“For example, a second year engineering student can work as a part-timer in an engineering firm - gaining valuable experience and getting paid at least €10 (RM47.60) an hour.”

Several hundred students took the career test during the fair.

“It took about 10 minutes and consultation with counsellors gave students an idea of their interests and what to do next,” said Justin Yap, who is a lecturer, counsellor and trainer at CareerSense@Help, the Career Guidance and Testing Centre at HELP University.

He said the test was helpful for students who “don’t really know themselves yet”.

“We provide career testing to students aged between 15 and 17 who are making decisions on what to do next,” he added.

Weighing the different options

There are many medical schools to choose from but make sure you have a checklist of what to look for.

Melaka-Manipal Medical College clinical studies and student affairs director Prof Dr M. Nachiappan reminded parents and students to look for well-established and prestigious schools.

Accreditation, ranking and the curriculum are important, said the consultant neurosurgeon, who is also the surgery department head at the college’s faculty of medicine.

“Ask about the faculties, visit the campus and make sure the infrastructure is good.

“For example, it’s good to ask if the school provides cadavers for students because feeling the muscles and nerves of a human body is the best way to learn.

“You also need to be careful about fly-by-night operators. You won’t want to end up studying in some shoplot somewhere,” he said, adding that there have been cases of medical schools closing down here in recent years.

The Melaka-Manipal Medical College booth saw a steady stream of visitors during the fair.

While affordability is a criteria, the opportunity for students to participate in sports and co-curricular activities cannot be dismissed as these are important in teaching them life and communication skills.

He, however, stressed on the need for aspiring doctors to be honest with themselves before starting on the journey to study medicine.

It’s crucial that they’re ready for a life of service if they want a fulfilling career.

Above and beyond academic qualifications, knowledge and skill, a good doctor must have the right attitude.

“You must have good communication skills and a strong sense of accountability, responsibility, honour and integrity,” he added.

He said there is a demand for doctors not just in Malaysia, but also in Europe, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. But, doctors must specialise.

“There’s a need not just for specialists, but sub-specialists too. We tell our students from the onset that they should be prepared to go the distance,” he said during the career in medicine talk.

The use of biotechnology to cure diseases, ensure food security and prevent environmental degradation, has much potential for growth.

The country’s interest in biotech started in the Fifth Malaysia Plan but strong emphasis in the field began in 2001, said Manipal International University (biotechnology department) lecturer and Young Inventors Journal (YIJ) managing editor Pratheep Sandrasaigaran.

“It’s false to say that biotech graduates can’t get jobs. Opportunities are aplenty.

“From bio medical researcher, biophysicist, biochemist and forensic lab technician, to microbiologist, science journalist and epidemiologist, graduates have so many areas to explore.”

Speaking on biotechnology and the fourth industrial revolution, he said prosthetic and organ printing can help many patients.

“It’s cheaper to produce artificial limbs with biotech. And, those in need of organ transplants, won’t have to wait that long because it’s possible to create an organ in a lab.

Students taking a career test by CareerSense@Help, the Career Guidance and Testing Centre at HELP University during the Star Education Fair 2019.

“We can even address world hunger using food printing technology.

“The possibilities are endless,” he said, adding that biotech is an industry that’s generating billions of Ringgit and thousands of jobs.

During the career in information technology talk, Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) senior lecturer Dr Izzatdin Abdul Aziz said graduates in IT, information systems, computer science and software engineering, have a bright future ahead of them - especially in an age of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and 5G.

“These degrees will prepare you for a career in every sector.

“Whether it’s data scientist, data engineer, data analyst or cyber security expert, these degrees are very relevant and will serve you well.”

He said the oil and gas industry is the sector to watch.

Traditionally, engineers are in demand when it comes to oil and gas but now, companies are on the hunt for IT experts.

“It’s costly to drill when you’re not sure whether or not you will find oil. This is where IT experts come in.

The use of predictive software for simulation allows companies to accurately identify where they should be drilling,” he added.

University of Nottingham Malaysia’s school of pharmacy MPharm programme director Dr Abigail L. Emtage spoke on “Pharmacy: Education and Careers”, where she explained the job scope of pharmacists, the job opportunities and more.

“Pharmacists play a large role in the healthcare industry. They are part of the multidisciplinary healthcare team involved in the preparation and safe use of medicines.

“They are also involved in monitoring the effects of medicines for patient care and research and the provider of healthcare advice in primary care, prescribing in specialist clinics,” she explained.

She stressed that pharmacists’ career options were not limited to just dispensing medicine and pills.

AIMST University deputy vice-chancellor (student affairs) and Faculty of Pharmacy dean Prof Dr Mohd Baidi Bahari gave a talk on “Implication of Big Data on Pharmacy Practice”.

He elaborated on the types of Big Data in healthcare and how it helps make the system better.

“Big Data is very useful and has an impact on pharmacy practice.

It can be utitlised in the evaluation of patients’ risk of chronic diseases, predict patients’ behaviour, prevent misuse of drugs, and planning intervention (risk prevention),” he said.

There are so many types of data from patients’ data, diagnostic, medication and manufacturing data, all of which are helpful when properly utilised, he said.

Heading overseas

Studying in the United Kingdom (UK) gives students the opportunity to build networks and connections that will benefit them upon graduation, said United Kingdom Education Centre talent development manager Joyce Low.

Low was speaking to a packed crowd during her talk titled “How does a UK experience improve your employability and future prospects?” at the fair.

“Having contacts is very important especially when you start working; you will never know when you will need to collaborate,” she said.

A UK experience, Low said, prepares students for life, gives them an international experience to build their confidence and portfolio.

Interstudy Education Consultants director Ivan Ong said students should select their university based on its reputation in a particular field.

“Choose a degree which relates to your future career,” he said during his talk titled “UK Study Opportunities”.

The representatives from Limkokwing University of Creative Technology were busy speaking to visitors to its booths.

Aircraft maintenance is a growing field, said Nilai University school of engineering and technology coordinator aircraft maintenance Mohd Zohdi Mat Zali.

Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) marketing and sponsorship executive Mohd Shahrul Nizam Shah Kobat said most of the queries came from parents.

Many asked about financial assistance, he said, adding that UTP offers full and partial sponsorships.

Besides financial concerns, Mohd Shahrul Nizam said parents also asked about the courses’ career prospects. He added that 90% of the university’s graduates are employed within six months of graduating.

University of Southampton Malaysia Assistant Prof Dr Grace Chai said an individual needs to be good at mathematics and coding if they want a career in artificial intelligence (AI).

She said that she wants parents and students to realise that they do not need to study computer science to work with AI.

AI is expanding into all sectors including cybersecurity, healthcare and manufacturing.

She said all students should at least know programming language so that they can understand how AI systems work in their respective fields and be able to troubleshoot easily.

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