Wednesday, February 21, 2007


OK, I'll much rather not having to blog about this for I fear stirring more controversies. It's certainly not the first time that we have been criticised as elitist, and I'm certain it's not going to be the last. However, the latest one in Kian Ming's post also raise quite a few other issues which certainly deserved a response, for I believing it will otherwise, certainly be detrimental to those whom we seek to assist.

The anonymous commentor (assuming its a 'he') argued that if he were to "tell all Malaysian STPM holders with straight As or GPA 4.0 to apply for admission to Oxford, more than 99% will be disappointed."

He's certainly wrong in this case.

I don't have the latest statistics at hand, but I wouldn't assume the data would have changed that much. In 2004, there were 12,235 applicants to Oxford University, 25.9% was accepted. Even with popular courses with Malaysians such as Law and Economics & Management, the acceptance rate was 19.1% and 13.8%, certainly a far cry from the alleged 1%. Science courses had significantly higher acceptance rates.

Similarly, in Cambridge where 14,682 applied that year, 22.4% were accepted. For Law and Economics, the acceptance rates were 15.1% and 14.7% respectively. Why should our best STPM students fare that much worse than the 'A' Level students in the United Kingdom?

In my case, the results for my 'A' Levels was certainly far from straight As. But that did not stop me from applying and getting in. Hence, why should our top students not bother applying to the top global universities?

If you'd like to argue that I had a decent dose of luck to get in, I'll not disagree either. But that is the very reason why Malaysian students should apply. If one doesn't even bother applying, one can't even "get lucky"!

This is very misconception about the top global universities which the bloggers here have been trying to debunk. It is not to say that all top Malaysian students should go to say, Oxbridge or Ivys. If you love Accountancy for example, you might be better off in London School of Economics (LSE) (it's not offered at Oxbridge) or if you prefer Agriculture, you might want to evaluate Nottingham or Reading. But certainly, if you think you'd like to study at Oxbridge, then certainly don't let their supposed reputation deter you from applying.

With that out of the way, there's only one other point to highlight. The commentor argued that he "will not be surprised if it is true that Tony and King Ming have been harboring discrimination against universities, which are less than their norm."

First, I dare say this on behalf of Kian Ming as well, we have no such prejudice. I've personally hired graduates from ranging from Oxford and LSE to Monash and Melbourne to UM, USM, UKM, UPM, MMU and UTM, and as far as I'm concerned, I have no issues with them at all.

So, why do we tend to focus a little more on the top schools? Very simply because we have been there and we would certainly like to help more Malaysians get there. We are realistic enough to know that we cannot help every single student in Malaysia (we try through the discourse on educational policies in Malaysia). Besides us, we certainly need others (including the Government) to play their parts and roles as well.

Tiara, for example, does a good job at trying to promote alternative education. If you have something useful to add to our readers, we'll be more than happy to publish it here (as we have done before). For us, we really just want to share our knowledge and experience (for what's its worth), to others who might find them useful. ;)


Full Time Mom said...

A-ha! Sorry to split hairs but I don't think you can compare the acceptance rate for courses as a whole, with acceptance rate for Malaysian applicants. :-D

No matter which university you go to, just make the best of it.

And I also want to add that university is not for everybody. Some people may be better off getting work experience first, then later (if they really want to) do a degree or professional course as a 'mature student'. Sometimes that works out better.

Anonymous said...

Actually I do agree with Tony that everyone does have a fair chance to apply for the "elite univerties". However, I'd like to point out here that sometimes it's not only academic or extra curricular performances but also financial ability that determines if we're able to get into such universities.

I'll take myself for example. I'm from a middle class family and will definitely not be able to afford 3 or 4 years in UK which might cost about RM500,000 including living expenses. On the other hand, "elite universities" such as Oxford and Cambridge does not do twinning or credit transfer like the "lower ranked" universities does. So eventually I studied locally and only did my final year in UK, which tremendously reduced my expense for the entire degree to less than RM120,000.

OK, now some may argue that I can go for scholarships. But we need to realize that while acceptance rate for oxbridge may hover around 25%, it may be true that acceptance for scholarship is as low as 1% (I do not have any statistics for this, someone let me know if I am wrong).

Now to the next topic. I've graduated from University of Hertfordshire and did an MBA with Charles Sturt University; comfortably working in an MNC mgmt consulting division. Will I ever have a chance to attempt a postgraduate research with any top universities if I decide to pursue a doctorate (considering I graduated from "unknown universities")? Maybe Tony or Kian Ming could advise on this.

Weng Khong LIM said...

If you think your university is 'unknown', consider mine... UTAR... I think it's as unknown as it gets. I still managed to get accepted to an Oxbridge institution for graduate studies. I think it's definitely worth a try. :)

farulg said...

I'd like to add the financial part that someone brought up. Some of the top universities in the US have need blind admission policies even for international students. This means that if you're accepted, the school will provide financial aid if you can't afford to pay.

Perhaps this info should be shared with more people in Malaysia so that they don't give up too early and skip applying for Harvard or Princeton or MIT.

Anonymous said...

I have some words for everyone of you here.

The fact is the fact, and facing the fact is what we all need to do. It is the reality that none of us can run away from. Standing up to the reality and empower yourself to commit action of rectifications and improvement is, not a certain, but definitely a path in search for a concrete solution.

There’s no need to despair and there’s no need to feel sour, whether one is in a top tier or mediocre university. The action is to stand up, take whatever opportunities come your way or make one now to build the journey to accomplish what you want. Easy as it may sound but this is the fact and the cold fact is life is never easy, as we all know from within, and it is only you who can, given your will, to take up the hardship for the betterment of your life.

Top tier or mediocre, after all, it is the education that we all must cherish as it is not for granted. Education does not stop outside the classroom. The law of existence, in education or life, is to fight, as every path we take, forms a series of battles in the war of life. For what you do to become you are, is your reason for existence. You are the Master of your existence.

Thank you,

Ben (

Chen Chow said...

Agree with Tony on this aspect of encouraging more Malaysians to try out in applying to top universities around the world, especially those Ivy League and Oxbridge.

While no one can say that the quality of education there would be much better than elsewhere, I would like to argue that at the very least, the quality in those institutions would be of a certain high quality. Of course, it eventually boils down to how each student makes use of the opportunities there.

I would like to echo Tony's statements to encourage fellow Malaysians to give it a try to attempt for those universities. Experiences 2006 Kuala Lumpur (now known as Discover U.S. Education - KL '07) was certainly organized to stimulate the applications of Malaysians to top U.S. universities.

If fellow Malaysians do not bother to try and apply for those institutions, they would never get admission. If they try, the chances of getting admitted is definitely more than 0%. While international student admission rate might be slightly lower than overall admission rate of Oxbridge, it would still be at least in the range of 10% or more.

On financial aid aspects, I do agree that sometimes this is a headache issue. I myself was deprived of education at Stanford due to financial aid issues. However, I would still want to encourage everyone to give it a good try. I have seen a number of people eventually managed to fulfill their dream, although after going through a number of hard time trying to get scholarships.

Who am I? said...

If you think CSU is unknown, then ur admission 'might' lean heavily on letters of recommendation from your MNC employer.

Since you're working with a MNC, maybe your superiors would be a good source of advice? not sure myself lah, since i'm still an undergrad...

pss... i think CSU is not unknown lah... since itz known to me... :-P

goodluck dude

Anonymous said...

I think there's a myth here that most superiors from MNCs could give advice on this because they are from the "elite universities"? The truth behind is that the superiors may also be from any universities out there. Just like Anon (2/22/2007 03:35:00 PM) may be promoted from within. So the university you come from doesn't matter that much after all.

Anonymous said...

I see many DBA courses offered in Malaysia nowdays:

Newcastle (can enter from year 2 if you have an MBA)
UniSA (offered by ITD)
CSU (offered by IGS and now HELP)
EBS (offered by HELP)
SCU (offered by SCMC)
MMU DBA (4 years weekend course)

I wonder how does the industry recognize these doctorate degrees. Are they well received by the industry? Will this scenario result in more "Dr."s in Malaysia, especially in the corporate sector? Will there be more "Dato' Dr." and "Tan Sri Dr."?

I would just like to see all your opinions on this. If you've got an MBA (from relatively unknown university) and intend to pursue another postgraduate degree, will you choose to do any of the above DBA? Or will you rather do another Masters Degree by Research in a more reputable university?

Tony, assuming you're still the CEO of Cyber Village. You met 2 person who has almost everything in common and same skillsets. Which will you choose - One with a DBA from any of the above, or one with an MBA from an Ivy League?

Anonymous said...

Which university one go does make a difference, it helps to open doors. However, where you go after you get in depends on you. Some times, hiring managers use the unversity admission screening process to screen for the type of candidate he/she is looking for.
Please note, job requirement varies from job to job, a degreenfrom a top U does not mean the candidate is a fit for every job. However, a higher ranked U generally can get better students if all things are equal. So, the focus should be on how to be good in what you want to do.
We should encourage more students from Malaysia to aim for the top U. Knowing that you can compete successfully in a top U helps in building confidence. Also, one learns to be more humble, there are many bright people around!


Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the real question is not how 'elitist' Kian Ming and Tony are, but what the purpose of this blog is...?

Tiara said...

Hello, shoutout! XD

By all means, apply to wherever you want to apply. Just don't let small things blind you to other possibilities. Too many people get stuck in the "Harvard-Oxbridge" meme that they don't realize ALL the options available.

What should happen is that people determine what is a top university for them by looking at the resources, location, faculty, cost and aid, facilities, atmosphere, etc etc etc - everything that makes up the university experience. Instead, people have a few names stuck in their head (from possibly outdated rankings!) and then assume those unis have a monopoly on "quality".

Loren Pope's "Colleges That Change Lives" is a good resource for American unis that may not be very well-known but provide a great "top university" experience for certain types of people. Unis are different, people are different, choose what suits you.