Getting a place to study at a tertiary institution is big step in advancing one’s education.
Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) school-leavers must give thought to their education pathway after secondary school.
The process begins with the submission of entry applications via the Central University Admission Unit (UPU) online portal.
Every year the Student Enrolment Management Division gets queries from students who have 4As or 5As but were unsuccessful at gaining a place at university while others with fewer distinctions were accepted.
Or one has a CGPA of 3.75 for STPM and wants to read law but failed to gain entry while another with a CGPA of 3.60 is successful.
Haslinda Yahya, the student enrolment management division principal assistant director at the Higher Education Department, said the selection of programmes must be based on academic qualifications. Applicants must meet the criteria set by public universities.
This year, applicants need not key in their results at the portal as the information has been obtained from the Education Department and the relevant examination board.
Based on the examination results, applicants have a choice of programmes at each university and institution.
“The new method aims to avoid unsuccessful applications and assist students to make the right option.
“For example, if applicant A wants to study medicine and has a good CGPA for STPM but he does not have at least Grade B for SPM chemistry, he can’t apply for the medical programme at UPUOnline because he is not eligible based on the terms set by public universities.
“The ‘Checking System’ at iMASCU (upu.semaksyarat.info) lists of programmes which applicants are eligible to apply.
“UPUOnline allows students to revise their choices of 12 specialisation areas any number of times.
“They can also opt to fill in a minimum of five specialisations.
“UPUOnline is not only for SPM school-leavers but also STPM and Matriculation students. If you are a STPM school-leaver, you have to key in your SPM results.”
The Higher Education Ministry recently introduced the online application, UPUPocket, for students to also easily keep track of applications for entry to public learning institutions.
An alternative to access the UPUOnline system, UPUPocket speeds up communication as notifications and announcements are sent to a smartphone.
Zal-hazmi Mohmmad Zin, 19, said his application was smooth and he got his first option to join the Foundation of Agricultural Science course at Universiti Putra Malaysia.
“Based on my experience, making an application at UPUOnline was easy and fast. The instructions were clear,” said Zal-hazmi, who is in semester two.
Natasya Farhana Nazry, 22, who got her first choice of studies with her STPM results, also lamented the number of revisions allowed. She is now a second-year geography studies student at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM).
Muhammad Naeimmuddin Zakaria, 23, learnt from his experience when he failed to submit his UPUOnline application to pursue a diploma programme when he was 18 due to disruption to the Internet connection. He then studied Sports Science in Form Six for 1 1/2 years .
After STPM, he was accepted into the Sports and Recreational programme at UKM. He is in his third year of studies.
“It is important to expose students to the correct way of making an online application at UPU. Students should know the dos and don’ts.”
DEALING WITH MISTAKES
International certified professional career coach Nik Faiz Iskandar Nik Zahari said the most common mistakes made by students can be categorised into four areas: lack of information on courses; inability to recognise their own interest; industrial need not taken into account; and applying for courses without meeting requirements.
“Many students apply for the wrong courses. They tend to fail their exams and have to re-sit or are asked to leave the programme.
“Some students don’t even know the courses suitable for them. We should stop asking ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
“Instead, ask ‘How do you want me to help you to achieve your dream career?’.”
Nik Faiz Iskandar added that following friends’ choices is not advisable.
“Interest can sometimes be difficult to recognise and the inability to do so may lead to a poor choice of studies, resulting in poor performance and dropout.
In their choice of studies, many students tend to consider their own interest only without taking the needs of the industry and community into account.
“University graduates are competing for employment. It gets tougher when they are offered jobs which unrelated to their field of study.
“Most of them fail to gain employment after graduation due to their ignorance of industry needs.”
Nik Faiz Iskandar said failure to gain entry to a particular university does not mean that the opportunity to pursue studies in a certain field is lost.
Students can appeal UPU’s decision or select other institutions which offer similar courses.
“What is important is that they need an interest in the studies. They can still aspire to study at a renowned university and even pursue postgraduate studies.
“Look at things from a different perspective. The paths to colleges and universities are many, choose wisely.”
ASSESSING YOUR PROSPECTS
WITH the advancement of technology, Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) school-leavers have many ways to get information on courses and universities before submitting an application at UPUOnline.
The mobile application, MindCampus, offers access to a list of tertiary institutions, courses and scholarships available in the country.
MindCampus lists 160 institutions and some 7,000 courses by location and level of studies. The scholarships listed include those from the government, corporate sector, universities and the banking industry. There are also interesting articles and insights on education.
Developed by Media Prima Labs, iOS users can download MindCampus for free at Apple Store while Android users can go to Google PlayStore. Since its soft launch on Dec 17, MindCampus has garnered more than 73,000 downloads.
Malaysian Institute of Microelectronic Systems (Mimos) chief executive officer Ahmad Rizan Ibrahim said the online instrument Prospek Kerjaya helps secondary school-leavers to research field of studies and careers.
Combining the expertise of MIMOS and the Malaysian Examinations Council in the development and management of education assessment, Prospek Kerjaya is a test that assesses aptitudes and career inclinations of individuals, which are then matched with the appropriate fields of study at academic institutions in the country and career options.
“Its design is based on well-established theories of career interests while the assessment is based on a database with profiles of more than 500 ‘job families’ or groups of related jobs and study fields.
“By recommending the ‘job families’ which the test-taker is best suited, Prospek Kerjaya provides individuals with a clearer picture of their skills and strengths, allowing them to make better decisions about studies and careers when they apply for courses and universities at UPUOnline,” said Ahmad Rizan.
“Test-takers receive a report which states their career interests; examples of careers that correspond to their career interests; recommended fields of studies and academic institutions (public and private) which offer the courses related to their career interests in Malaysia and participating Commonwealth countries (for STPM school-leavers only),” he added.
Prospek Kerjaya also compiles data on fields of studies at public and private institutions. At present, MARA Poly-Tech College, Perdana University, UCSI University, Asia-Pacific University of Technology and Innovation, Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur and Universiti Malaysia Sarawak have started using PK for the benefit of their students.
“The use of digital assessment technology contributes towards the advancement of the country’s educational institutions through the intake of students who possess appropriate aptitudes and career interests.”