Not the be-all and end-all

Adam: It is worth noting that not all students who study abroad are guaranteed success in life.

 ASK any Malaysian student if he or she would pursue tertiary studies abroad if given the chance and the answer would most likely be a “yes”.

The question to ponder here is: what can universities abroad offer students that our universities here can’t?

I have heard a lot of answers to this question over the years. One answer that sticks out the most is that foreign universities offer a better career path and future for students. But is this true?

Students study abroad because they claim that universities in foreign countries are better than local ones, which in turn produce great academic results and better job opportunities for them.

The 2022 edition of the QS World University Rankings, which rates a university based on its academic reputation, employer reputation, faculty-to-student ratio, citations per faculty, international faculty ratio and international student ratio, shows that there are only five Malaysian universities in its top 200.

The undeniable truth is that most of the world’s best universities are located outside of Malaysia.

Students studying abroad could seek employment there upon graduation, which could equate to getting a better pay if the country has a stronger currency than ours.

This could be advantageous financially.

However, it is worth noting that not all students who study abroad are guaranteed success in life. One’s success depends on effort, not just education.

Studying abroad is very costly. In recent years, the number of scholarships being awarded to students to pursue overseas education has been decreasing.

The Internet has made tertiary education and tuition more affordable and accessible to the masses.

In addition, some Malaysian firms are interested in hiring local graduates who are more familiar with the local surroundings, giving them an edge over their overseas counterparts.

That said, overseas education will greatly benefit students with ambitions in specialised fields that are lacking academic expertise, as well as career opportunities, in Malaysia.

An example is the field of cosmology.

There is a dearth of cosmology courses in Malaysian universities.

Students who aspire to have a career in this field thus do not have a choice but to study abroad where there are more options available.

Not just that, studying at a well-known foreign university is necessary for them to achieve the recognition needed from employers the likes of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN).

In conclusion, pursuing overseas education is not the be-all and end-all of a student’s academic journey.

Students can sign up for a twinning programme which enables them to study locally and abroad for several years.

This way, they can experience the best of both worlds.

Students can also choose to study locally as an undergraduate and pursue a postgraduate degree abroad later on.

My take is that success will come naturally when we give the best versions of ourselves to all our endeavours, regardless of where we study.

Adam is a participant of the BRATs Young Journalist Programme run by The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) team. Throughout the year-long programme, participants aged between 14 and 22 from all across the country experience life as journalists, contributing ideas, conducting interviews, and completing writing assignments. They get to earn bylines, attend workshops, and extend their social networks. To join Star-NiE’s online youth community, go to

1. “To weigh in on” means to give an opinion or enter a discussion.

Read the two articles written by BRATs participants Jeslyn and Adam.

Then, in your Star-NiE scrapbook, draw up a “Pros and Cons” table with the points raised by both of them on the issue of studying abroad.

Do you agree with their views?

Next, add as many other points as you yourself can think of.

When you are done, write a diary entry on whether you aspire to study abroad at the tertiary level and why.

2. Look in today’s copy of Sunday Star for three inspiring personalities in Malaysia.

Do you think they received education abroad?

Look for the answers online. How much do you think their educational backgrounds played a role in their achievements today?

Have a discussion with an activity partner.

3. Adam wrote that pursuing overseas education is not the be-all and end-all of a student’s academic journey.

“The be-all and end-all” means the ultimate aim or the most important part of something.

Now, look in the newspaper for a photograph of a personality.

Cut it out and paste it in your Star-NiE scrapbook.

Then, think of a sentence that the personality would say.

The sentence must include the phrase “the be-all and end-all”.

Draw a speech bubble and write the sentence out for the personality.

Since 1997, The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (StarNiE) programme has supported English language teaching and learning in primary and secondary schools nationwide. Through Star-NiE’s teacher and student workshops, annual contests and monthly English language resources for classroom use, participants of the programme reportedly showed marked interest in the language and progress in their proficiency. Now in its 25th year, Star-NiE is continuing its role of promoting the use of English language through a weekly activity page in StarEdu. These activities are suitable for use individually and in groups, at home and in the classroom, across varied proficiency levels. Parents and teachers are encouraged to work on the activities with their children and students. In addition, Star-NiE’s BRATs Young Journalist Programme will continue to be a platform for participants to hone and showcase their English language skills, as well as develop their journalistic interests and instincts. Follow our updates at niebrats. For Star-NiE enquiries, email

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