PENANG: The Star Education Fair 2005 saw streams of students and parents jamming the booths to check out an array of courses offered by local and foreign institutions of higher learning.
As early as 10am, an hour before the fair opened its doors at the Penang International Sports Arena (Pisa) in Relau here, about 50 visitors were already waiting at the entrance.
Among them was Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia school leaver Heng Kheah Lynn, 18, from Kulim, who was checking out the fair for the first time with her parents Heng Kee Boon, 46, and Teoh Lay Choo, 42.
The former SMK Sultan Badlishah student said they decided to come early to avoid the crowd, adding that she wanted to scout for medical, biotechnology or biomedical courses.
Form Four students S. Shobina, 15, and R. Nandinii, 15, from SMK Dato Onn in Butterworth, said they had heard from the seniors that the fair was very informative.
Our seniors, who came to the fair in previous years, told us that there were many interesting choices of courses available at the fair.
We hope that by coming to the fair this year, we will be able to make up our minds about what we want to do in the future, said Shobina.
Sales assistant Sarah Mohd Padzil, 24, an Information Technology diploma graduate, said she hoped to further her studies in a degree programme for better job opportunities.
Also there was housewife Noraini Sahar, 49, who accompanied her daughter Nursyaza Hazimah, 18, in search of a suitable medical course.
With them was her son Muhammad Khairul Aiman, seven, who brought his schoolbag to store the brochures collected from the booths.
Exhibitors were kept busy distributing brochures and leaflets on their programmes as well as attending to enquiries from the visitors.
East Los Angeles College counsellor Melari Su said this was the first year the college was participating at the fair.
We hope to attract more Malaysian students to our university in Los Angeles, she said, adding that at present, about 400 of the total 24,000 students in the university were from Asian countries.
Another foreign exhibitor was the University of East London.
Its education counsellor Lee Chee Ling said they were promoting degree programmes in business, computing, architecture, biosciences and engineering.
Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow, who opened the fair, urged students and parents to make the most of the fair and explore their options completely before making up their minds.
It is exhibitions like this that make education truly accessible to Malaysians.
With events often centred around the nations capital, its good to see a genuine effort to bring the fair to other places for the benefit of those who dont live in the Klang Valley, he said in his speech.
Currently, he said, there were nearly 400,000 students including 35,000 foreign ones in colleges and universities.
Star Publications (M) Bhd regional director (north) Datuk Seri Kamal M. Hashim said more than 140 booths were taken up by over 100 exhibitors at the annual fair, the fifth to be held here.
We have, for the first time, some private colleges from as far as India, Scotland, Texas and Los Angeles, he said.
Representatives from 11 private colleges in the northern region also pledged 106 scholarships worth about RM1.7mil for the Star Education Fund.
They are among 44 local and foreign colleges nationwide which are offering 359 scholarships awards worth nearly RM10mil.
Also present were state executive councillor Datuk Koay Kar Huah and The Stars group editorial/education adviser Datuk Ng Poh Tip.
Talks titled Options after SPM and The Star Education Fund, will be held today from 11am to 12.30pm while the others talks are Mass Communication and Psychology (1pm-2.30pm), Pharmacy (3pm-4.30pm) and Medicine (5pm-6.30pm).
All talks are at Function Room A except The Star Education Fund talk, which will be held at Function Room B.
A talk on tertiary education and career choices will be held at Bilik KRU from 12.30pm to 1.30pm followed by a talk on architecture in the same room from 2pm to 3.30pm.
Besides that, there will also be a fashion show from 3pm to 4.30pm.
The fair, which ends today, is open from 11am to 7pm.
Admission is free.