Fire and Rescue Department deputy director-general Datuk Wan Mohd Nor Ibrahim said many graduates only submitted their PMR and SPM qualifications when applying to become firemen, a job only requiring a PMR certificate.So, from this little piece of evidence, is it true that degrees today are "worthless scraps of paper" sufficient only to qualify one for low-paying jobs?
“I think many of the graduates may not want to reveal their tertiary education background until they have joined the department after completing their basic four-and-a-half months' training. Most of them are worried that their applications may be rejected if they reveal their educational background in their application forms,” he said, adding that this year some 23,250 applications were received for 533 vacancies for firemen.
Well, of course not, at least not totally true anyway. I will hazard a guess that these candidates who were desperate enough to apply for the above positions were not sufficiently qualified in their fields of study, and hence their difficulty in being able to secure a position in their preferred choices. The reasons could be many, and I've discussed some of them in my previous posts here, here and here.
However, I will attribute this to a direct result of the lowering of standards in the local universities in order to meet the application and political demands of the country, as well as the inability to attract sufficient quality lecturers and tutors to all the mushrooming universities and colleges (private and public) in the country.
- Firstly, it has become too "easy" to enter a university in Malaysia. Many of the students who entered the local universities would have SPM aggregates in excess of 25 (that an average of 6 B4s or C5s for the best 6 SPM subjects) and STPM grades (or equivalent) of 2Ds (or worse). Putting it bluntly, the theory is simple - barring exceptions, you will get rubbish in, rubbish out. There is a large pool of students who should not have been admitted into unversities, in our local universities - when that happens, the standard drops.
- Secondly, the universities are then put in a bind - they can't possibly fail all these students, can they? That wouldn't be the politically correct thing to do. Hence as a results, the standards to "pass" and obtain their degrees are intentionally or unintentionally lowered, in order to enable many of these candidates to graduate from the university.
In my case, where I have stringent requirements for strong programming foundations for my application developers, I'm forced to largely recruit computer science graduates from the top 5-6 local universities with CGPA scores above 3.3 (out of 4.0) to ensure that I get quality. For some of my maintenance and support staff, I will recruit those above a score of 3.0. For those with CGPA between 2.0-2.6 (or worse), these candidates should never have taken up the Computer Science degree - because I really don't think they learnt anything much during their 3-4 year courses.
It will really be too inaccurate to attempt to generalise the measure the value of "degrees" today. There are indeed many factors involved - particularly the quality of the institution attended and the grades obtained. If you are a first class honours graduate from University Malaya - I will more likely than not, snap you up immediately, while you are likely to be immediately rejected if you have a second class lower degree from say, TAR College.