Reader WK wrote to provide some further insights to UTAR, in particular on my comments below:
I've not received sufficient quantity of resumes from UTAR graduates to be able to give a more informed judgement on their quality and standards, especially since their pioneering batch of students have only graduated last year. However, from the few (less than 10) which I have received, I have not been particularly impressed, especially in terms of the entry criteria into the university.Excerpts from his email, which I thought might be somewhat useful for some of you out there is published below:
Well, based on what you typed in that paragraph, then I guess you'd be interested to hear from me. To cut things short, I'm a product of both TAR College and UTAR, having taken my Diploma studies in the former and my BSc. in the latter. What's interesting is that I actually turned down an offer to take the same course (Computer Science) at UTM. I know it's crazy but I wasn't in full control over my faculties at that moment.Hence students of UTAR may be rest assured that "any reasonably competent graduate from UTAR should worry about their career prospects", but I suppose that would apply to most leading local universities as well :).
I can't speak for all UTAR graduates, but I haven't been facing much difficulty in getting a job. I did a 4-month stint in Intel for my industrial training (developing mfg automation software solutions) and was immediately re-hired by Intel (into another department) upon my graduation. As far as I know, there are several other UTAR alumni who are software engineers in Intel as well. Apart from Intel, I also know of alumni who have been working in companies such as Dell (mostly as technical support specialists), Altera and Agilent. Most of the people I know of who had difficulties in finding a job were those that specifically wanted non-programming IT jobs. Specifically, they were looking for jobs that didn't involve any sort of coding, because either they lacked self-confidence or were genuinely deficient in programming skills. Safe to say, there is no reason that any reasonably competent graduate from UTAR should worry about their career prospects.
Perhaps you would be even more interested to know of UTAR's academic standards. Upon graduation, one of our top students was awarded a scholarship to pursue his PhD studies in ANU (Australian National University). As for me, I will be commencing my graduate studies in the University of Cambridge on a full Cambridge Commonwealth Trusts scholarship next month. As much as I would like to say that the admissions and selection process focuses on individual qualities, I still believe that the insitutions we come from DO play a role (albeit not a major one).
I'd like to send you my resume (since you mentioned that you haven't been receiving many), but seeing that I'll be off to UK in a couple of weeks, I'm not really in the market for a job right now. But I'll make it a point to send you one when I'm ready. :)
Oh... and what entry criteria? UTAR takes in virtually EVERYONE that applies. :)
Just to provide a further update, I have since the previous post, hired 2 top graduates from UTAR and the young ladies, based on the feedback from the managers, are performing extremely well as application developers in the company.
Hence it may be alluded that the academic gap between the good students at the weaker ones in UTAR may be very large, such that the good may be very good, while the weak ones will find major problems in employment. This also appears symtomatic of other more reputable private universities such as Multimedia University (MMU). In this universities, I'll usually seek candidates who have achieved cumulative grade point average above 3.5, just ignore the rest. (Here waiting for another deluge of critical comments for employing such a recruitment policy)
A simple cause of this phenomenon is likely to be the fact which was pointed out by WK - that UTAR, and for that matter, most local private universities and colleges, "takes in virtually EVERYONE who applies", which in my guess, is due to commercial reasons. I've spoken to an academic in the Computer Science faculty in UTAR discussing this issue of not setting higher minimum entry criteria and he admitted that it was an issue which has been raised with the management, but clearly as discussed before, commercial reasons appear to have over-ridden the need to maintain higher standards.
Emily Tan, a journalism graduate from UTAR, who won herself a Erasmus Mundus scholarship to pursue a Masters in Journalism had this to say with regards to her alma mater on one of my earlier posts:
For the price, UTAR is adequate but NOT among the best. Its poor library resources alone limits its use as an academic institution and the few truly excellent lecturers I had who were of international standard, have since left. For students who can afford no better, UTAR is indeed the best place you can be. You get a down-to-earth practical university education with a nod to theoritical academia, but they won't really teach you to write well (never had a red mark on any of my pieces, therefore I learnt nothing), and education is definitely not of international standing. (I'm very nervous about the masters programme).And this brings us back to the remark which Kian Ming pointed out to me earlier, when I said sometime ago that the local universities might not be that bad because I do get some very good employees when I recruit some of the top students from some 6-7 local universities. He said that these students have performed very well "not because of the system, but inspite of it". Hence, for candidates such as WK and Emily above who did very well for themselves, it may be argued that they will have achieved what they did anyway in other universities and not necessarily because of UTAR.
Irrespective, congratulations is due to WK for doing extremely well for himself and good luck in Cambridge. I'm certain that you will absolutely enjoy your time there! And of course, I look forward to your resume upon your return, although you may be priced out of my reach by then :).