Friday, April 07, 2006

American Degree Programme: A Response

Here's a letter from Alain Chong who was a "little annoyed" with my write up on the American Degree Programme @ Private Colleges earlier. :) He has kindly consented to have his letter published here to provide an alternative viewpoint.

I came across your blog and read the blog on "American Degree Programme - @Private Colleges". I am dissapointed that you did not do your research well. I am proud to say that my brother, cousin sisters and myself are all alumni of INTI College. I was one of the youngest graduate from my university to obtain a Distinction in my MSc and I am currently pursing my PhD (although I am not proud to say it has taken me 3 years now and still on going). My brother is currently doing his E&E degree at Leeds university. As for my cousin sisters, one graduated from Leeds with a degree in Civil Engineering, and the other graduated with a degree from Wisconsin-Madison. She was on the dean's list twice while studying at the university.

Did you know that an INTI american degree programme graduate even snubbed MIT for his post grad and chose Stanford instead. Did you know that we have students studying or graduated from Michigan Ann Arbor, Cornell Uni, Purdue and the other universities you have ranked in your blog? I think you might have misunderstood on INTI's American programme in the sense that you lists the low ranking universities as INTI's partners. These are the partners who will give "scholarships" or give "guaranteed acceptance". Of course, in order to get accepted to Cornell, Ann Arbor etc, the students need to have good results. The point is, these top colleges recognize INTI's credit transfers.

Please check out the partner universities from (choose partner university at the top menu).

By having a bias opinion on private colleges, you have insulted those of us who went to top american (or British) universities through the american degree programme at INTI. Given your interest in reading college advertisements, I am sure you have not missed out some of the successful graduates we have from the american universities (INTI alumni). Many of them have continued with their PhD studies and are doing well in their area of study. I think the strength of my college is that no other colleges will be able to claim this in terms of providing real student facts on which universities they graduated from or what are they currently doing. INTI Ads simply don't use Daniel or Jac, we use real grads!

Please keep in mind that not all students can afford to spend 4 years in US. To many of us, even doing a 1+3 reduces our parents' financial burdens.

I do not disagree with the fact that high ranking universities are good, but I disagree with you saying that private colleges such as INTI do not offer students a chance to study in top universities. Today, many of my ex classmates/college mates from INTI are working at top companies all over the world ranging from US, UK to Australia. Of course, like you, I do come across INTI students who are weak academically and went to some small colleges. However, my point is that by highlighting only on the weak students rather than focusing on the achievements of the top students, you risk annoying many of the good students who went through the twinning programme (from INTI as I am not able to comment on students' quality from other institutions).

As for the British Universities, I am sure as a British graduate yourself, you will know that each univeristy will have its strengths and weaknesses. I am sorry to tell you thatnot everyone can afford to study in Imperial or LSE given the high cost of living in London as well as the high school fees. Although british universities' standards have decline in recent years, I still believe that students who studied in UK no matter what the ranking is will still receive a better education than many students studying in local universities such as UPM, UUM, Unimas etc. HOWEVER, I do think that students who study in US/US/Australia etc should spend more than 2 years in these countries. For students choosing their final year in overseas, they will not learn much. After reducing all the holidays, they might have spent only 9 months in the university. There is much more than getting a paper qualifation when you go overseas (as you will agree). You learn how to learn, how to USE THE LIBRARY, how to work together with people from different cultures. These are, as the ads put it, PRICELESS. I remember going to the university as a boy, and coming back as a man.

The last paragraph seems a bit out of topic. Apologize for that. Keep up with the good work in your blog although I do not necessary agree with all of them


A slightly annoyed PhD student


Footnote: You will note that my comments, as I've always stated, are on what I have experienced and what I can infer. There are also always exceptions. When the exceptions are too few to count, then I do tend to "ignore" them.

I don't fully agree with the viewpoints (that means I agree with some-lah) but I'm happy to accept them as alternative views as my words aren't the gospel. Readers should make their own informed judgement. :)


Anonymous said...

Well Alain, yes you can transfer to Cornell, Purdue, Michigan Ann Arbor, but what about Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Brown, Dartmouth, Stanford, Columbia, MIT and so on? Doing ADP not only closes the door to these universities, but also to financial aid from them.

That to me is the biggest weakness of the ADP, top students who would otherwise be able to get financial aid from US colleges have to pay the full fees when they transfer.

Kian Ming said...

I'm generally sympathetic to Alain's arguments. Private colleges opens up opportunities for those who can't get their favored courses in public universities or who want to go abroad to study certain courses but can't afford to do so for the full 3 or 4 years. Good students like Alain will find ways to go to good schools such as those he listed (although I'm curious as to why he didn't tell us where he's currently doing his PhD) through twinning programs. Others will get decent enough degrees from less prestigious universities but are no worse than UM, USM or UKM.

From personal experience, I know of many bright people who have gone through the UoL external program at HELP and have gone on to get scholarships from Standard Chartered and from LSE itself to go to London and study there for their 2nd and 3rd years. I personally know at least 6 such students who have gone on to be very successful in their careers.

Lastly, I think the market will sort out the better private colleges in Malaysia and those which provide lower quality programs. This will take some time but we can see the market segmenting already. The top tier of colleges include Sunway, INTI, Taylors and HELP. Sedaya seems to be coming up and PRIME seems to have taken a hit. There's also differention within the different programs in these colleges. Some are tougher and attract better quality students. Others are deemed as 'softer' and attract weaker students.

Just like there is a difference in the quality of the public universities, there is a similar difference in the quality of private colleges.

Anonymous said...


The reason why ADP programs target "lower" ranking colleges mainly is cost. Most good colleges in the US are very very expensive, because you have to pay for good professors, research, etc. Most Malaysian cannot afford it. The ADP allows medium-high (not top) students to still get a good education in the subject that they're interested in, and some exposure to other cultures as well.

Again, I agree with your advice that top students should aim high, and apply for financial aid and admission to top US universities. But how about the rest of us? (the remaining 99%). I believe the ADP program has been very advantageous to Malaysia and has helped many be able to pursue the career that they love. Not all of us have the results to go into the top universities; for all others, there is the ADP :)

Anonymous said...

I do not believe in ad hominem attacks, but as a student who has had many years of educational exposure in the U.S., I think you ought to improve your grammar before you can earn respect:)

Anyone who is resourceful and talented can make it to the top tier schools, and the problem is that generally INTI (and other private colleges) doesn't prepare one sufficiently to be resourceful.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's a case of "one very good apple doesn't spoil a basket" :D

Btw, good luck to the letter writer on his PhD. Make Malaysia proud!

Anonymous said...

I am an Inti alumni and went through their AUP programme.

For those seeking alternative view from students who went through it, please visit this website. I wrote this little article a few years back.

In short, it is more complicated compared to the British system. It is more flexible but it has many real constraints. Each university is unique and may have very different policies. Students wishing to pursue this course should first understand them well before enrolling in the programme.

It is true Inti does partner with some good schools. The rule of thumb is: the better the ranking, the less credits you can transfer (i.e. more years studying in USA and higher tuition & living cost).

Anonymous said...

American programs are not cheap. Here is a quick breakdown in some universities. Source: NYTimes

harivindren said...
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