Thursday, March 23, 2006

College for Malaysian Idols

Have anyone seen the aggressive TV advertisements made by SEGi College (Systematic Education Group International) recently? About 2 months or so back, the SEGi College television ads were "super-imposed" with Donald Trump's The Apprentice making it appear as if Donald himself (and all the Apprentices) went to SEGi. I had thought then, that it was marketing gimmick at its best. Well, not quite.

Now, the latest advertisements being broadcast has the past 2 Malaysian Idols giving SEGi the thumbs up. In fact, if you visit the college's website, you'll find publicity materials for SEGi College Open House which invites prospective students to meet up with the Malaysian Idols, Jaclyn Victor and Daniel Lee. Quite clearly, the college is relying on Idolmania to attract students. Don't you think that speaks a lot about the college?

Based on their press release announcement, the College has signed up the Malaysian Idols as the College "Ambassadors".
“Our students relate well to the two Idols. They are of the same age group and their background is shared by the vast majority. Both Jac and Daniel are hardworking and creative. We feel that their clean image bodes well for our students. We picked Jac and Daniel not only for their celebrity status, but also as role models for our students,” said Lee [Principal of SEGi College Subang Jaya].
Note that I have nothing against the Malaysian Idols. They absolutely deserved their celebrity status and the fact that they must be remunerated handsomely for being the College's ambassadors - after all, none of them were alumnis of SEGi College (although SEGi might just decide to award them honourary doctorates :)). The practice by the College to enrope the Malaysian Idols as their ambassadors is also not commercially unethical. However, it does appear a tad "grey", from the perspective of a educational institution that is seriously interested in providing "quality" education. I for one, am totally not impressed with their marketing strategy.

Interestingly enough, a reader who pointed out the following allegations on a forum to me. It appears that if the allegations were true, the College isn't particularly ethical in its assessment practices as well.
...when officers from overseas wanted to come over and check the students situation, they(Management) will ask you to say something good about the college (if the officer ask), and they(management) will print GOOD(fake) results of your testimonial to show them how good the students are in there. They give students some sort of a script to study and a short session to learn how to talk in front of the officers. AND THEY CLAIMED THAT IF STUDENTS WANTED TO TELL THE TRUTH OR SAYS SOMETHING BAD ABOUT THE COLLEGE,THE OFFICER WILL HOLD THE WHOLE ADVANCE/DIPLOMA CERT AND WILL NOT APPROVE IF PROBLEMS OCCUR. What the hell was that?
In addition, it appears that some of the services provided to the students are well below acceptable levels.
They ask you to pay online fee's so you can get updated news/bulletins and courseworks info in the link(website) provided. But they never UPDATE IT,and will NOT accept whatever complaints and feedbacks given by students when facing a problem.They will just know how to ban and kick out students.... ALWAYS ASK THE STUDENTS FEEDBACK BEFORE JOINING THE COLLEGE. THEY KNOW & SPEAK BETTER THAN THE MANAGEMENT DOES.
Taking away the angry vitrolics, the last line, "always ask the students feedback before joining the college" is good advice.

Also, don't be fooled by some of the scholarships on offer. It has been advertised that students who achieve straight ‘A's in 10 subjects and above will be eligible to receive full scholarship for the entire duration of their studies at SEGi. Partial scholarships will also be granted to those who score 8 and 9 ‘A's in their SPM exams. In addition, the College also announced rebate of RM500 for each ‘A' one score in the SPM.

The above is purely a strategy to attract top students to the College, who will then perform very well largely due to their own personal efforts, despite and inspite of the quality of teaching services and learning facilities at the college. If I'm a top SPM student, I will not go to SEGi College which is not even one of the better private educational institutions which I've lamented frequently about here on this blog. Job applications from SEGi College graduates practically have an automated route to the reject bin in my Jobstreet folders.

Oh, and you will find on their website that they have listed University of Sheffield, which is a good university in the United Kingdom as one of their new partner universities. Candidates who are still interested in SEGi should ask what type of partnership is this for I could find nothing in the courses structures which leads to a degree from Sheffield. So guys, keep your eyes wide open in your pursuit for higher education.


Anonymous said...

Dear tony,

remember the expo about US universities that Malaysian students/alumnis were planning to do this summer?

the site is up :

Anonymous said...

Well you guys have to differentiate between real promotion and marketing.

People, read the conditions carefully about the so called "high achievers scholarship".

It says, the fund on DOES NOT COVER portions payable to partner's university.

AND they (8TV & Segi) will be USING you to do their promotion activities under one of their condition. And if you do not maintain discipline (like allow them to make use of you for their marketing purposes), they can revoke your scholarship!


Kenny Lee said...

they wanna make money only!!!!

Anonymous said...

the world is turning into a strange strange place

verniciousknids said...

Interesting concept to use idols for promotion...quite savvy I guess but I agree that you have to wonder about the quality of the college.

Anonymous said...

Tony misses the point altogether, I think. It's not about the idols being graduates of the college, but about them having a clean cut image and possessing the right values i.e. being good role models.

Agree the the college is rather aggressive in its advertising but don't think it's harmful as there's no element of deception or misrepresentation involved, in this promotion.

If the objective of the promotion is to get attention, it succeeded but I hope that students are more savvy these days than to sign-up on that basis alone.

I won't comment much about the excerpt taken from Sarawak Talk - that's simply hearsay. How could one support his assertion with unsupported facts taken from sarawak talk is anyone's guess.

Anonymous said...

If using top scorers & scholarship students to promote a college is bad, should check out help college and taylors. they put top spm students picture and name on their ads. the college is clearly not responsible for their success at secondary school.

perhaps it's just to show that good students study there and if you have the opportunity to rub shoulders with them, you may be smart too.

some weird reasoning.

Anonymous said...

The partnership with Sheffield University is on the Segi website. It's linking the diploma in engineering to Sheffield's degree.

Check out this link:

Don't see the hoo-haa about cheating and conning.

Anonymous said...

Don't think Tony meant any cheating or conning. The words "not commercially unethical" could not be taken to mean that, although it can't be taken to mean that its commercially ethical either.

However, I beg to differ from Tony as relying on Idolmania is actually quite smart. The goal of marketing is firstly to attract attention and interest, and nothing is better than enroping the idols to promote the college.

There is a risk though that the Idols may be involved in scandals in the future but I'm sure SEGi has taken appropriate steps to manage those risks.

Once attention and interest is obtained, the college then has to do other things such as creating the desire and needs on the part of those who already gave their attention.

Remember, that attention itself doesn't sell. The college need to still go back to old fashioned quality education and a superior learning experience.

But for a new college, SEGi has done pretty well from a marketing perspective.

The fact that we're having a debate online about it proves the point.

By the way, read in the NST about SEGi's signing of MOU with Sheffield. Looks like they are on their way up.

Have not hired any SEGi graduates though I'll be looking out for them and post their quality. Watch this space.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't feeling good while reading Tony's comment on SEGi. Eventhough I'm not actually graduated from SEGi, but I completed my Degree studies from USQ at Prime College(SEGi). I've encounted a few good lecturers during that time and some of them are still with the college. I've had a great study experience there for a year and I just think Tony is too biased.
I truly believe that SEGi is trying its best to become the top college and I wish them all them all the best.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I agree with the USQ grad. Although I'm not a student at SEGi (am studying at Inti) but I've heard from friends that the quality at SEGi is pretty high, especially the Subang campus. They used to be known as Prime College. My cousins who graduated from Reading University and Queens took their foundation A-Levels at Prime and scored straight As.

Their reputation took a dive in the past 2-3 years when they moved to the Summit from Old Klang Road, but looks like they are putting their act together now.

Heard quite a number of A students have enrolled there now.

Am thinking of transferring after my foundation.

Golf Afflicted said...

Prime College was acquired to become part of the Systematic Education Group in 2001.

I have plenty of respect for Prime College 'A' Levels programme for I have a lot of friends who were top students originating from that college. Whether the standards have deteriorated in recent years, I have no idea.

However, I definitely don't have the same respect for Systematic Colleges.

So do your homework carefully before choosing the right college for yourself. The good thing about a forum like this is that you get to read all the views pros and cons. Ultimately the decision is with yourself.

Tony P :)

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Tony Pua's site for setting the template for healthy debate about pros and cons of marketing & branding of colleges.

The views of the public, the market and students can't be muzzled anymore.

Colleges that hope to hide their incompetence and lack of quality, poor facilities, below par service and unqualified lecturers behind the veneer of slick advertising & glossy brochures can't survive for long. Before long, the word of mouth...further amplified in forums like this will catch up with them.

The converse is true for quality educational institutions. Providing education is a service, albeit a noble one. A first grade institution's reputation will spread just as quickly, and before long, students will jostle for a seat.

Private education institutions are, understandably, more disadvantage as they have no public money to rely on. They have to generate enough revenue to run their institutions. It's not easy balancing what is essentially a business with what I would call a social responsibility of ensuring its graduates are workready.

Some will resort to trickery, cutting corners and running illegal & unrecognised programmes to the students peril. Unfortunately, the actions of a few will ultimately shame the whole flock.

I personally think Tony Pua has erred in his judgment of SEGi.

Whether it's Systematic College or Prime College, the fact is that these colleges have been around for more than 20 years..or 30 years (?!!). Yes, they may not be first rate or be the first choice of students. But a college that thrives on 'grey advertising', empty promises, scholarship trickery, etc....will certainly be wiped out within a year or two.

Although I've given up teaching years ago (and have since cashed out on SEGi shares 2 years ago), I do profess having a finger in the pulse or nerve of education today.

Segi or Systematic can't be labelled inferior. Its graduates do have gainful employment and occasionally do bump into a few of them. They are successful in their own right.

It resonates of outright elitism on Tony Pua's part to slam a proper private college in this forum. Very few of us have the opportunity for education in an elite or top-notch educatonal institution due to many reasons - lack of funds, opportunities, connections, demand outstripping supply, etc. Even more so in the 70s, 80s and early 90s when places to good public universities, scholarships and other opportunities were scarce.

It's educational institutions such as Systematic or SEGi that provides a means for the masses to improve themselves so that they may get better jobs and have better lives and in turn, contribute back to society. I must say that they have done a fairly good job playing this egalitarian role.

They have certainly transformed themselves from mere professional qualification, certificate providers to providing twinning degrees these days.

The enroping of Idols, etc., I agree is a gimmick to attract attention. But attention is drawn to an institution that wants to improve itself and upgrade its image. That's what I see.

SEGi only have a 20-30 year history but it started off on the right track by providing education for the masses.

University College London and a host of other great universities were founded on these principles. The utilitarian (thought to have made popular by UCL founder, Jeremy Bentham) idea that everyone is equal and should have equal access to higher education. It was an idea that was unpopular and criticised by elitist england then.

Whilst I dare not compare segi to ucl but time will only tell.

My personal advise is not to look down or disrespect qualifications...or even dump them in the trash bin...for I'm sure there are systematic students there that are far more successful than either you or I. It's just that they are far too busy contributing to society or making money than to read or contribute to this forum.

Anonymous said...

am very surprise that this thread still continues to today.

mr. observer is right. systematic may not be no. 1 or even in the top 10 for that matter but they certainly does provide education to regular malaysians - i've got accounts clerk, marketing executives to some senior people working in my company that are good. look like sytematic set up a college and provide honest service.

for a while i was doing my mba through them but dropped out owing to work commitment. may resume soon.

have somethign to say about their shoplot service & facilities which leave much to be desired.

now they are segi college, and very aggressive in marketing. i think it is a good thing that they decide to rebrnad and upgrade their image, and i think the marketing is excellent.

will find out if it is just window dressing or improve service quality when i go back and do my mba.

the programme is good and the campus is convenience location, but service can be quite bad. but heard that colleges that hire partime lecturers risk having classes cancelled in last minute. it is something that we have to live with to network and share industry experience with parttime lecturers.

but what i stress is that systematic graduates have jobs and are good. better than the local university graduates that can't string a proper sentence in english. i'm not saying my english is perfect or good but at least i can communicate and get message across.

the advise i want to give students is rather than going for some local universities or some government institutions, with exception of maybe university malaya, and end up jobless. Better to get a qualification that give you job and work your way up and constantly upgrade yourself.

the rm10k or rm20k you save by going for local u means nothing if you can't find job. opportunity cost of 6 month employment for fresh grad earning rm2k is already rm12k.

be careful and think first before you decide.

Anonymous said...

I was referred to this website by a friend by email. I am shocked at the prejudice against Systematic College.

Yes, I am an ex-accounting student of Systematic at their campus in PJ. I may not be able to afford nor have the opportunity to study at fancy universities overseas, but what we had was pure hardwork and the right guidance, and of course our 'streetwiseness'.

I didn't turn out to be a sampah masyarakat but have gone on to open and run my own company, rather successfully. It may not be listed like Tony P's (check out his profile) but I'm confortable with the company's multi million profit per year and providing jobs for 87 people.

Yes, at times I was ashame of the college because it doesn't have a 'campus look and feel' but once you learn the subject matter and apply them it works. I would think better than the nerds in top universities. My staff from Systematic are one of the better if not top ones as compared to those from other colleges and unis.

Don't judge a book by its cover, so don't judge a college superficially.

Am saddened by the change of name from Systematic to Segi, but guess we all have to move on with times. Wish Segi all the have moved thousands.

Chin (Systematic Class of 94')

Anonymous said...

i saw an ad with idol daniel with segi again today in the star.

just wish they have much more to offer rather than just banking in on the idol popularity.

not that i think segi's a lousy college. in fact, i think it's doing a great job to last 30 years (i think) in the industry.

it's just that one shouldn't focus so much on the malaysian idol aspect. brilliant as the marketing idea may be initially, it's milking the cow dry.

noticed earlier ads with another college featuring siti nurhaliza. now, that's something i don't understand. what statement does that provide? be pretty and attract a rich husband?

anyhow, don't like the direction this college is heading. it won't be long until we see colleges sponsoring akademi fantasia.


Anonymous said...

Noted segi college is pretty aggressive these days. I'm not so sure what's the attraction but their scholarships are hot. Got to know from a friend who knows of a few top students who were rejected for full scholarship despite doing well in the spm. But these students were accepted for full scholarship elsewhere.

Not too sure...perhaps the college is out to eke out money from students.

Anonymous said...

hmm... i think using idol popularity in the college ad is not something to be criticized. Indeed, it is an idea where nobody will ever thought of it previously.

Come on.. don’t be so conservative people out there. The trend is changing now and the fact is that it works…!!!!

Anonymous said...

This is a college to watch in the future. Now that it has our attention, heard that they are implementing drastic service improvement initiatives. Staff are to work round the clock 7 days a week! Service training almost everyweekend, feedback from students & customers, etc.
A lot of cleanup to do but all in the right direction. Other colleges better not be caught sleeping as ignorance and complacency will be their archilles heel.