THERE’S a lot to consider when selecting the most suitable institution of higher learning for your child, and for many parents Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) remains a top choice for its quality in teaching and learning, worldwide recognition and graduate employability, among others.
Sundarajan Velayutham did not need much encouragement to enrol his sons into UTP. Hailing from Ipoh, the safety, health and environment trainer was already familiar with UTP’s impressive campus.
Through visits and chats with the staff he saw what was on offer – state-of-the-art facilities, an environment conducive to learning, a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural student and teaching community and a dynamic curriculum designed to prepare students for the working world.
“Ranking-wise, UTP is a premier university and that too was a factor,” says Sundarajan, whose sons are respectively studying Mechanical Engineering and Information Technology.
Ho Kum Foo, whose children are Civil Engineering and Electrical and Electronics Engineering graduates at UTP, also shares Sundarajan’s sentiment.
“The recognition and reputation of the university, facilities and environment to build quality graduates, location and security were important factors,” he says, adding that his children were the final decision makers.
“But as parents, we have to constantly provide the information right from when they are still in secondary school, then also visit UTP.”
UTP registrar Dr Azrai Abdullah points out that more often than not the prospective students are also already well aware of the university’s unique selling propositions.
“Our annual student intake survey reveals that almost 80% of students’ desire to join UTP is because of its academic quality and world-class education,” he says, adding that parents tend to choose institutions of higher learning based on future employability. On the latter, UTP, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, delivers in spades.
UTP’s graduate employability rates remain impressive, with 95% of its graduates employed at government-linked companies, multinational corporations and the private sector. Surveys over the years show that 88% hold skilled positions such as managers, professionals and engineers and in addition, 40% command salaries above the country’s national average.
The university’s ethos of producing well-rounded graduates with technical, as well as communication and interpersonal skills, is also a plus – parents observe the newly inculcated traits in their children.
“My sons are more hard working, more disciplined and also have confidence and speaking skills. So, the university is shaping them,” says Sundarajan.
UTP’s engineering degrees, which are accredited under the Washington Accord also offer graduates tremendous opportunities to be employed globally. In addition, the university - ranked as the country’s top private university by Times Higher Education, boasts strong industry linkages.
These facilitate the seven-month internship programme (the only one of its kind in Malaysia) and ensure that UTP’s academic programmes are abreast with industry needs.
The university also grooms students for the working world through sports and extracurricular activities and technopreneur skills development.
International exposure through overseas internships and research attachments are another plus, Azrai says, pointing out that by 2025 such global stints will be a graduation requirement.
The fact that all foundation and undergraduate students are guaranteed on-campus accommodation also goes down well with parents, as about 11% of the campus population is made up of international students from 60 countries.
Despite these advantages, challenges exist. For one, Azrai points out that interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education is on the wane. The pandemic, which forced much of the student development and student experience activities online, has also had an impact.
On the issue of tuition fees, Azrai is quick to correct the perception that studying at UTP is unaffordable. There are ample funding avenues, scholarships and financial assistance available, he says, pointing out that each year some 800 scholarships are available from the public sector as well as industry.
These, coupled with the world-class education offered, mean that UTP is a value-for-money institution of higher learning.
To get this message across, the university undertakes engagement sessions involving parents and other stakeholders. Meet-and-greet sessions, which began in 2021, allow students and parents to interact with UTP’s ambassadors, including the academic staff, students and alumni.
“In addition, there is also a virtual and physical open day held each semester, which provides first-hand experience on UTP’s state-of the art facilities, vibrant campus infrastructure and well-rounded global community,” says Azrai.
For more information and to apply for UTP’s foundation and undergraduate programmes this September intake, visit www.utp.edu.my.