Tuesday, June 20, 2006

40,000 New Undergraduates

Well, the results which many STPM and matriculation students have been waiting for are out today. For those interested, they can visit the Ministry of Higher Education website to check on their personal details.

Would we get the usual annual charade of candidates with super grades missing out on choice courses? I'm certain there will be - it'll just be a question of whether the qualms are deserving or underserving parties. We'll wait in anticipation as the media, I'm sure will pounce on any perceived injustice to make headline news, as well as the countless letter which will hit the mailroom. In addition, the unhealthy annual practice of political parties submitting appeals on behalf of students have already started (and Kian Ming wrote about SUPP submitting appeals on behalf of rejected Sarawak candidates for scholarships here).

In the meantime, here are some published statistics (figures in brackets are for 2005/6 intake):
Total Public University Intake: 40,016 (39,976)

Racial Distribution:
  • Bumiputeras - 62.36% (62.4%)
  • Chinese - 31.53% (32.0%)
  • Indians - 6.11% (5.6%)
It appears that the slight increase in university places benefited the Indian community the most, with the slight increase in allocation from 5.6% to 6.1%.

The number of students accepted into the respective courses are:
  • Medicine: 925 (910)
  • Dentistry: 205
  • Pharmacy: 285
  • Electronic Engineering: 1,538
  • Mechanical Engineering: 1,194
  • Chemical Engineering: 943
  • Accounting: 1,086
  • Economics: 1,055
  • Law: 277
For the racial breakdown of students gaining entry into the above courses, have a look at the table below, courtesy of The Star.

The key subjective element in this year's entry has to be the fact that co-curricular activities contributing up to 10% of a candidates overall score. It will be interesting to see if this has created any potential controversies, which I blogged about earlier.

And beyond the "managed meritocracy" issue which is bound to arise, and which has been debated to death, one of the larger picture is the fact that are we accepting too many undergraduates? The 40,000 new undergraduates have yet to take into consideration and additional 20,000 or so students enrolling into the private institutions of higher learning.

As questioned by the first director of then Institut Teknologi Mara (now Universiti Teknologi Mara, or UiTM), Tan Sri Arshad Ayub, was frank at a public lecture recently:
"We are so concerned with expanding enrolment at our institutions of higher learning that we fail to ask whether some of these students are ready to pursue degrees.

"Shouldn’t they be pursuing diplomas instead? I think a quarter or even half of the existing number of students pursuing degrees should be doing diplomas. Perhaps, this is why we now have a problem of unemployable graduates."
I can only concur wholeheartedly.


Bigjoe99 said...

Its not about too many graduates but too many unqualified graduates. While its true that many would be better off doing vocational training, the same problem will occur even if vocational training is provided. We have a national skill crises that is not addressed by our education system but its not just our education system, its also our administrative and economic system and other factors as well.

The other day a Malaysian/Singapore team with a hot new startup company in California came through the region to recruit engineers with the view of setting up design and production in this area because they wanted an excuse to come back once in a while. They did extensive interviews in Singapore and Malaysia of experienced engineers many of whom worked for MNCs even but came to the conclusion that they can't find even a few people good enough to do the jobs they need done. They decided even if the cost is prohibitive to do the work in California with the view of eventually moving production to China and some design work to Taiwan.

The truth is our government has no idea what it takes to really develop the right skills. The truth is for the last few decades that burden has fallen on shoulders of MNCs exploiting cheap labour. Skills relevancy in Malaysia has been an accident of foreign direct investment which is in no way benign or on purpose. With no new FDIs, upgrading of skills is just not going to happen.

Anonymous said...

The complication started when there are more than ONE way to enter the Universities. Adding entries through Matriculation and to compare it with STPM is like comparing apples to oranges.
Cant the higher authorities see thatcreating the matriculation way is in fact injustice to the STPM holders
In such situation STPM holders should be given priority as:
1 Their courses or subjects are harder and comprehensive
2 They spent more time in STPM than Matriculation

It is amazing after the fiasco regarding entries into Medical faculties where the so called ideal system of meritocracy is suppose to work, we find since one year ago the number of matriculation with 4 pointers seems to snugly fit the demand for 4 pointers into these crucial faculties
The govt should realise there is no black cat or white cat approach of Deng Xiou Ping...be fair to all. Dont try to maladjust the education system intil it become ludicrous!

Anonymous said...

Approximate 80000 STPM applicants, minus 10000 who failed STPM, plus about 20000 matriculation applicants, with 40000 places offered. Can you find out the relative probability of failed applicants?
[easy maths -happy counting :)]

Anonymous said...

If only they will be transparent in their mechanism of selecting students....then such sad issues won't crop up

Anonymous said...

As long as matriculation results = STPM results, Malay parents and some non-Malay parents will pull all strings and cables to get their children into residential colleges that conduct matriculation courses.

Advantages gained: (1) easier and more certain route to get into professional courses like medicine and dentistry, and (2) one year rather than two years after SPM to get into universities, i.e., getting into universities one year younger than students that go through the tougher STPM route.

Fantastic social manipulation! People, wake up, play the smart games! Don't expect accountability, transparency, etc. stuff from our government. Cannot beat the system, join it and reap the benefits. Don't just complain.