Agile students, the way to go

Powering dreams: Yeow (front row, centre), Star Media Group chief content officer Datin Paduka Esther Ng and chief business officer Lydia Wang (front row, seventh and 10th from left, respectively) with Star Education Fund partners-in-education and scholarship recipients at the presentation ceremony. — AZMAN GHANI / The Star

 EMBRACE adaptability and a lifelong learning mindset – that is the advice Star Education Fund’s partners-in-education have for students embarking on their tertiary education journey.

Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said in a world where change is constant, being agile and proactive in seeking new knowledge and experiences will be the students’ key to thriving in their future endeavours.

“Being equipped with technical skills, critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving abilities will be invaluable.

Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba KamarulzamanProf Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman

“I would like to see students cultivate a sense of curiosity and openness to explore diverse perspectives and ideas,” said the Monash University Malaysia chief executive officer and Monash University Australia pro vice-chancellor and president (Malaysia).

Agreeing, Tunku Abdul Rahman University of Management and Technology (TAR UMT) president Prof Dr Lee Sze Wei said to stand out among competitors, how fast one adapts to changes is important, more so with technological innovations.

 “Students need to be creative and have a high level of critical thinking and problem-solving skills to make full use of technology.

“With this comes the necessity for students to cultivate lifelong learning, which includes unlearning and relearning, as these will strengthen students’ adaptability to constant changes,” he said.

UCSI University Springhill Campus Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences dean Prof Dr Mogana Sundari Rajagopal said with technology changing current thoughts and practices, it is critical for university students to embrace the use of technology to grow beyond traditional learning.

“Students need to keep an eye out for opportunities where technologies can be incorporated into practice,” she said.

“Adaptability and flexibility are key elements that students should cultivate.

“Embracing continuous curiosity drives lifelong learning, which is important for students to excel and continue to improve themselves even after they have completed their tertiary education,” she added.


In addition to embracing lifelong learning, Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten) chief operating officer Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Ezanee Rusli said in facing the impact of a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world, it is very important for students to develop communication skills and cultivate collaboration.

“Due to the complex challenges and interdisciplinary nature facing society nowadays, students need to learn to work effectively in teams, communicate ideas clearly and persuasively, and collaborate across disciplines to tackle problems,” he said.

He also said students must be adaptable and resilient to ensure that they can overcome challenges.

“Life can be tough at times but don’t be afraid to take risks and pursue your passion. Be bold to step outside your comfort zone because some of the most innovative ideas come from thinking outside the box and challenging the status quo,” he said.

Sunway Education Group Student Life director Lee Siok Ping said one’s tertiary education journey is a pivotal time for exploration, self-discovery and accumulating various experiences that can help shape the future of one’s pursuits in life.

Prof LiewProf Liew

“I hope students would seize the opportunity to be resilient, foster friendship and collaboration, embrace diversity, and cultivate the heart of giving,” she said.

HELP University vice-chancellor Prof Dr Andy Liew Teik Kooi advised students to go beyond academic content and equip themselves with a diverse skillset.

“In addition to excelling in their academic endeavours, fostering a repertoire of soft skills, coupled with proficiency in digital and cybersecurity literacy, will distinctly position them and enhance their readiness to tackle the complexities of our modern era,” he said.

Investing in success

Monash University Malaysia, HELP University, UCSI University Springhill Campus, Sunway University and UCSI University Kuala Lumpur Campus were the top five contributors to the Star Education Fund for the year 2023.

Since its inception in 1994, the Star Education Fund has benefited 4,439 scholarship recipients with a value of over RM164.3mil.

For the 2023 scholarship cycle, a total of 78 scholarships valued at RM5.76mil were awarded, with Monash University Malaysia awarded 10 scholarships worth RM1.93mil; HELP University five scholarships worth RM466,000; UCSI University Springhill Campus two scholarships worth RM423,630; Sunway University four scholarships worth RM401,700; and UCSI University Kuala Lumpur Campus five scholarships worth RM342,710.

Prof Adeeba said Monash University Malaysia’s participation in the Star Education Fund underscores its commitment to supporting deserving talents and providing them with access to world-class education and opportunities.

“We have awarded scholarships to numerous outstanding individuals, totalling RM6.1mil from 2018 to 2023.

“These scholarships aim to provide an opportunity to students who may not have had the financial means to pursue higher education otherwise,” she said.

She added that the university’s involvement in the fund aligns with its mission to contribute positively to the community by fostering an environment of support and enrichment.

“Looking ahead, we are excited to continue our partnership with the Star Education Fund and expand our scholarship offerings, including new pledges for programmes such as the Master of Artificial Intelligence, Master of Business Information System and Master of Data Science this year,” she said.

Prof Liew said HELP University’s participation in the Star Education Fund is deeply rooted in its mission to empower individuals to succeed in life through higher education.

“This commitment, dating back 26 years to 1999, reflects the core principles instilled by our co-founders.

“By partnering with the fund, we aim to create transformative opportunities for individuals and contribute to nation-building efforts through education,” he said.

Prof Mogana said the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences at UCSI University aims to nurture graduates of the highest calibre to positively impact national and global healthcare.

“Through our participation in the Star Education Fund, we hope to support passionate students with good potential to pursue their dreams in their chosen fields,” she said.

Lee said Sunway as a whole has always been a strong believer that education is one of the key factors in alleviating poverty and it is one of the founding values of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation.

“We also understand alleviating poverty is a monumental task that requires persistence and collaborative efforts with many parties.

“In 2000, we established this partnership with the Star Education Fund. I am glad to share that through this partnership, we have impacted over 250 recipients in scholarships, supporting individuals from communities who otherwise might not have had access to quality education,” she said.

The Star Education Fund scholarship award presentation ceremony for the year 2023 was held at Menara Star on Feb 28.

At the ceremony, Star Media Group outgoing chief executive officer Alex Yeow officiated a soft launch of the Star Education Fund Scholarship Awards 2024.

“We are proud to announce that our strong foothold has now expanded to encompass 26 partners-in-education for 2024, with a total of 192 scholarships worth RM12.4mil,” he said.

The Star Education Fund will be running for the 31st consecutive year this year.

Applications for this year’s edition are targeted to open in April.

How to shine in interviews

A key factor that can set scholarship candidates apart is the ability to demonstrate a deep interest in their areas of expertise and a clear vision for how they plan to make a difference in their fields. Those who have demonstrated leadership skills; an ability to tackle challenges, think critically and creatively, adapt to new situations; and a proactive approach to making a positive impact in their communities are highly valued. Demonstrating resilience in the face of adversity and a willingness to overcome obstacles is another important quality. These candidates inspire confidence in their ability to succeed.– Prof Adeeba

Candidates should exhibit clarity of purpose and mental agility. They should boldly articulate their aspirations and how they intend to contribute not only to their personal growth, but also to the broader community and institution.– Prof Liew

Charisma, aptitude, optimistic drive, and passion can set you apart. It’s important that you come prepared for the interview. Do background reading on the programme you are applying for and on the organisation. Positive body language, a warm greeting, and maintaining eye contact with the interviewer create a good first impression. Clear articulation of thoughts, confidence and proper dressing are essential. A collaborative mindset is a quality that often lacks in candidates. Showcase effective leadership skills and extracurricular activities in your curriculum vitae. It is crucial to demonstrate your ability to work with others and contribute positively to a team environment. Display forward thinking and most importantly, be honest.– Prof Mogana

As a panellist on the scholarship committee, I have always placed more emphasis on one’s character, experiences and life goals rather than on academic performance.

While academic performance is an important gauge of one’s ability to meet the demands of academic learning, I am more interested in one’s ability to overcome difficulties positively and one’s persistence when the going gets tough. These traits will make the individual shine and stand out not only in interviews, but also in life.– Lee

Be proactive in applying for scholarships. Practise transparency and accuracy, especially regarding your family’s financial challenges. And present confidently when sharing your aspirations and strengths. – Prof Lee

Sought-after qualities in candidates include confidence, academic excellence, leadership, participation in extracurricular activities, passion and commitment. – Mohd Ezanee

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