|1.||Tier Six Universities in Malaysia|
|...Friday, 17th November 2017|
|2.||Johor offers quality education|
|...Thursday, 19th October 2017|
|3.||Five Malaysian varsities continue to rise in rankings|
|...Tuesday, 17th October 2017|
|4.||2016 SPM RESULTS announced on 16Mar17|
|...Friday, 17th March 2017|
|5.||STPM -2016 Results|
|...Friday, 3rd March 2017|
|6.||Finland seeks to strengthen educational ties with Malaysia|
|...Friday, 3rd March 2017|
|7.||The 7As of Education|
|...Thursday, 23rd April 2015|
|8.||SPM Exam 2014 results |
|...Wednesday, 4th March 2015|
|9.||STPM Exam 2014 Results|
|...Wednesday, 4th March 2015|
|10.||Malaysia redefines YOUTH age to 30 years effective 2018|
|...Tuesday, 18th November 2014|
|11.||Student Loan Defaulters among those on Immigration Black List|
|...Tuesday, 14th October 2014|
|12.||PT3 exams - new exams for Form 3 students|
|...Tuesday, 14th October 2014|
|13.||Nepalese students stranded after falling for college’s promise |
|...Tuesday, 2nd September 2014|
|14.||End of John Hopkins contract with Perdan University Graduate School of Medicine|
|...Tuesday, 19th August 2014|
|15.||Overseas grads are nation's agents of change|
|...Wednesday, 2nd April 2014|
|16.||SMTP Results for 2013 exams announced on 19Mar14|
|...Thursday, 20th March 2014|
|17.||SPM Exam 2013 results announced in 2014|
|...Thursday, 20th March 2014|
|18.||Malaysia - Form 3 PMR Results 2013|
|...Friday, 20th December 2013|
|19.||Aussie Visa cannot be bought - Australian High Commissioner to Malaysia|
|...Friday, 20th December 2013|
|20.||Malaysia: Student visa woes not our fault, says Immigration department|
|...Tuesday, 17th December 2013|
|21.||Malaysia -Foreign students with passport problems can contact Education Ministry|
|...Monday, 16th December 2013|
|22.||Malaysia: 400 foreign students scammed |
|...Tuesday, 26th November 2013|
|23.||Four Nigerian Students jailed for kidnapping|
|...Friday, 4th October 2013|
|24.||Three Nigerian students sentenced to death for drug trafficking|
|...Friday, 4th October 2013|
|25.||University of Hull branch campus to be set up in Penang in 2017|
|...Thursday, 26th September 2013|
|26.||UK eases Malaysian student visa applications|
|...Thursday, 15th August 2013|
|27.||The making of a 'good' traveller|
|...Monday, 24th June 2013|
|28.||TB test cert required for study or six-month stay in Britain|
|...Monday, 24th June 2013|
|29.||Immigration team at student visa centre|
|...Thursday, 20th June 2013|
|30.||Nigerians students nabbed over scam in Malaysia|
|...Tuesday, 30th April 2013|
|31.||Malaysia 2012 SPM Exam - Result announcement|
|...Thursday, 21st March 2013|
|32.||Malaysia 2012 STPM Exam results |
|...Tuesday, 19th March 2013|
|33.||Malaysia - 9 universities under scrutiny|
|...Friday, 1st February 2013|
|34.||Higher Education in POLAND|
|...Sunday, 29th November 2009|
|35.||Australia Self Drive Holidays - Road trippin’ Down Under|
|...Monday, 26th October 2009|
|36.||Explore Australia’s high country|
|...Monday, 26th October 2009|
|37.||Malaysian education system is in real dire straits|
|...Sunday, 12th April 2009|
|38.||Malaysia: Decade-old fare structure turns them into rogues|
|...Sunday, 12th April 2009|
|39.||English : The global language|
|...Friday, 30th January 2009|
|40.||Students want University Colleges Act reviewed|
|...Saturday, 31st May 2008|
|41.||Student Visa Deception: they can work only during semester breaks|
|...Monday, 26th May 2008|
|42.||Many students still not fluent in English|
|...Monday, 28th January 2008|
|43.||Speaking another language can open many doors|
|...Monday, 28th January 2008|
|44.||Education in France|
|...Sunday, 16th December 2007|
|45.||Malaysians can now study medicine in Poland|
|...Sunday, 30th September 2007|
|46.||Malaysia: Bill on air travel passed|
|...Friday, 29th June 2007|
|47.||Study in Saudi Arabia|
|...Monday, 4th June 2007|
|48.||Doing medicine in Egypt|
|...Thursday, 10th May 2007|
|49.||Recognition for Polish Medical degrees|
|...Monday, 2nd April 2007|
|50.||Recognised CZECH Medical Universities|
|...Monday, 2nd April 2007|
|51.||AGREEMENT BETWEEN UNWTO & WYSETC TO BOOST YOUTH TOURISM|
|...Monday, 5th February 2007|
|52.||Bogus students 40% OF `FOREIGN STUDENTS' ARE HERE TO WORK, SAYS HOME MINISTRY|
|...Thursday, 28th September 2006|
|53.||More Travel Tips for Students Travelling Abroad for Studies|
|...Monday, 31st July 2006|
|54.||Ten tips for studying abroad|
|...Monday, 24th July 2006|
Eight universities – two private and six public – achieved Tier Six or outstanding status in the Rating System for Malaysian Higher Education 2017 (Setara).
The public universities are Universiti Malaya, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi Petronas, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
The private universities are International Medical University and Monash University Malaysia.
Seventy-one out of 105 Malaysian universities and university colleges took part in Setara 2017, a rating instrument based on a seven-step methodology encompassing national and international benchmarking, stakeholders’ engagement, pilot run, data verification as well as sensitivity and validity analysis.
The universities were rated by more than 90 senior auditors based on four main criteria – general, teaching and learning, research and innovation, and services.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said this marked the first time the Tier Six rating was achieved.
“I believe the ratings are fair reflections of the state of our higher learning institutions,” he said at the Setara 2017 award ceremony here yesterday, after congratulating the varsities on a job well done.
Idris said Setara classified universities into three categories – matured universities which have been around for over 15 years, emerging universities which are below 15 years and university colleges which have produced one cohort of undergraduate students.
Another 21 institutions – 11 private and 10 public – were classified as Tier Five or excellent, while 29 others achieved Tier Four or very good status.
Institutions that achieved Tier Five status include Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Sunway University, Taylor’s University, UCSI University, Management and Science University, Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences, The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation, Curtin University Malaysia, Lincoln University, Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus, Universiti Tenaga Nasional, Universiti Utara Malaysia, International Islamic University Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Perlis, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Pahang, University Malaysia Terengganu and International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance.
Setara 2017 chief auditor Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Saleh Jaafar said besides looking at the four criteria and other relevant data, institutions’ financial statements were also closely examined.
|Johor offers quality education|
19 Oct 2017
JOHOR BARU: Johor has stepped up in accommodating the demand for private or international education in the state and there is no need for Malaysian children to cross into Singapore daily for the purpose.
State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said while parents were free to enrol their children in the school of their choice, it was not necessary for them to cross the border for it.
“Johor has more than enough public, private or international schools that offer quality education at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels.
“We have a total of 16 international schools offering primary and secondary education throughout the state, most of which are located in the Iskandar Malaysia region,” he said in an interview.
Parents, he said, can pick from a wide range of international syllabus options for their children.
“After the primary and secondary levels, students can opt to pursue their tertiary education at one of the nine top-notched institutions at EduCity, located in the heart of Iskandar Malaysia,” he said.
The thriving education hub offers a wide range of courses in various fields, from medicine to information, communication and technology, he added.
Among the learning institutions are University of Reading Malaysia, Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia, Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology, Raffles University Iskandar and University of Southampton Malaysia Campus.
Others are Marlborough College Malaysia, Management Development Institute of Singapore, Multimedia University and Raffles American School.
Austin Heights Education Sdn Bhd development director Chong Khai Siang said the number of students going to Singapore to study has declined, mainly because of the unfavourable currency factor.
He said the weak ringgit made it less affordable for parents to send their children to attend school in the republic as the education levy for foreign students are revised once every two years.
“Another one of the parents’ concerns is that their children tend to seek employment in Singapore and live there after finishing their studies,” he said.
Chong said about 65% of the students were locals (out of the some 970 students) enrolled at Austin Heights Private and International School, Mount Austin, here – the largest international school in town.
“We also have a small number of Singaporeans who study at our school as they could not enrol in international schools on the island,” he said, adding that the school has students of 27 nationalities.
He said the international school offered full-fledged preschool syllabus to secondary school International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) curriculum recognised by the University of Cambridge.
|Five Malaysian varsities continue to rise in rankings|
17 Oct 2017
PETALING JAYA: All five of Malaysia’s research universities continue to climb the rankings ladder with Universiti Malaya (UM) leading the pack.
UM, Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) are in the top 50 among the 11,900 universities in Asia, according to the 2018 edition of the QS University Rankings: Asia.
UM is ranked 24th among Asian universities, rising three spots from 27 last year, while UPM is ranked 36th, UKM ranked 43rd, USM is 46th and UTM is at 49th. All of them have improved their rankings compared with last year (see table).
The regional university rankings, released yesterday by global higher education analyst QS Quacquarelli Symonds, see 27 Malaysian higher education institutions being listed in the top 400 within the region.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh congratulated all the Malaysian universities that made it into this year’s edition of the rankings.
“The ministry is always supportive of your endeavours to make Malaysian higher education great and believes in the synergy that exists among higher education institutions, which helps foster a dynamic and innovative ecosystem,” he said in a statement.
UM deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Prof Dr Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud said the rise in rankings was due to the cumulative efforts of its staff and students.
“Although rankings are not the only thing that is important to UM, the management believes that these provide a gauge of its progress over the years.
“To improve its ranking, UM is now embarking on a mid-term review of its plans and adjusting and responding to the financial challenges that have arisen over the last two years.
“The financial constraints are posing new challenges to UM but it is rising to the occasion and will try its best to continue improving,” he said.
UPM vice-chancellor Prof Datin Paduka Dr Aini Ideris said it was committed to strengthening its academic and research processes and continuing on its journey to become a world-class university.
Two private universities are also among the top 200 in the region –Taylor’s University (150) and Multimedia University (179). Both climbed up from the 179th and 193rd positions.
Taylor’s University vice-chancellor and president Professor Michael Driscoll said the jump in its ranking showed that the university was on the right path and underlined the quality of education it provided.
The table is led for the first time by Singapore’s Nanyang Technolo-gical University. It takes the number one position from the National University of Singapore, which now ranks second.
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology is at third position, up one rung from last year.
PUTRAJAYA: Candidates who sat for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) last year did better overall compared with 2015, even when fewer of them scored straight As, said the Education Ministry.
Education director-general Tan Sri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof said 8,647 or 2.13% of the 434,535 candidates obtained A+, A or A- in all of their subjects, which is a slight drop compared with 2015, where 9,721 or 2.38% scored the same results.
“There has also been a drop in the number of candidates with straight A+,” he said when announcing the SPM 2016 analysis at the Education Ministry yesterday.
In 2015, 163 candidates (2.6%) had perfect A+ but it dropped to 102 (1.94%) this time around. Fewer candidates registered for SPM 2016, with 434,535 versus 440,682 for SPM 2015.
However, Dr Khair added that even though fewer candidates obtained straight As, overall they did better when viewed using the National Grade Average (GPN).
The latest GPN is 5.10, which is better than the previous year’s of 5.15, he said.
GPN scores range from 0 to 9.
“A smaller GPN means that candidates did better (in the examinations),” Dr Khair explained, while adding that the performance gap between rural and urban candidates has also shrunk.
Dr Khair attributed this improvement in rural areas to dedicated teachers who embraced better teaching and learning processes there.
He said the English Language was one of the core subjects that had a better Subject Average Grade compared to 2015.
When compared to the previous year, the average grade for the subject improved to 5.99 from 6.08.
Examinations Syndicate director Dr Aliah Ahmad Shah said the syndicate has always maintained the same format and standard for all national examinations.
The drop in the number of As does not reflect a drop in the quality of the examinations, she said.
These candidates were also the first batch to undergo the school-based assessment system, introduced to Form 1 classes back in 2012.
Under the system, students will be assessed periodically on all subjects, and will be given grades for various abilities from Band 1 (ability to recall information) to Band 6 (ability to display higher order thinking skills and knowledge).
|More students with 4.0 CGPA in STPM 2016|
PUTRAJAYA: Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid has expressed his satisfaction following the overall improvement of the 2016 Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) examinations.
Describing the results as one of the best over the years, Mahdzir said it shows an overall improvement in academic quality.
"There is 1.3% improvement in the performance of candidates in the 2016 examination as the National Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) has increased from 2.65 in 2015 to 2.71 in 2016.
"I am hopeful that this performance can be bettered for this year's examination," he told reporters following the announcement of the 2016 STPM results here today.
Mahdzir also hoped that more students would opt to sit for the STPM in an effort to pursue higher education.
"While there were 47,122 candidates who registered for the exams only 43,235 candidates eventually sat for it," he said.
Highlighting the lack of students in the pure science stream, Mahdzir added the ministry will ensure more laboratories are built to cultivate students' interest in science.
On another matter, Mahdzir said the government is currently studying whether students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia could attempt major examinations via an "open book" method.
"A committee has been set up to determine this matter and when the time comes to make a decision we will announce it," he said.
His response came in light of the issue raised by parents whose children suffer from dyslexia, a disorder that involves difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols making it a challenge during an examination.
The disorder however does not affect general intelligence.
|Finland seeks to strengthen educational ties with Malaysia: Ambassador|
KUALA LUMPUR: Finland seeks to strengthen educational ties with Malaysia focusing more on the information and communications technology (ICT), said Finland ambassador to Malaysia Petri Puhakka.
Puhakka said education could build bridges between the two countries aside from one of ways to maintain good ties.
"There are a lot of potentials in this country that we could grab here. What we do is try to increase the number for student exhange programmes. We also try to explore more on what we can share here such as in the field of expertise.
"Some Finns told me that they received a good amount of working incentives here especially in the ICT field," he told reporters at Wisma Bernama here today.
Earlier, he appeared as a guest on the Bernama Today programme produced by Bernama News Channel (BNC).
Puhakka said currently more than 300 Finns reside in Malaysia and hoped the number would increase in future.
"We hope to cooperate better with Malaysia in many areas as well as trying to get closer to the community.
We are also looking forward to build the future together especially in critical fields," he added.
He assumed his post here in May last year. Diplomatic relations between Finland and Malaysia were established in 1972.
Touching on Finland's 100 years of independence celebration on Dec 6, he said several programmes had been planned to be held in this country this year.
"Some cultural events will take place somewhere in May. We are trying to bring a Finnish band here for that event," he added.
|My View - The 7As of education|
Posted on 21 April 2015 -
Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
THE issue relating to education is always a challenging one. More so because education is said to be changing, and failing, depending on how critical your point of view is. Minimally, however, many would agree that there ought to be some tinkering to meet the demands on the need to conform. The other extreme is of course to reform, transform and revolutionise – all of these words have been used in the context of Malaysia at some point. Now we seem to be in a transformative mode of some kind after two blueprints were unveiled: one for preschool to pre-university (PPPM 2013-2025), and more recently for higher education (PPPM-PT 2015-2025). Taken together these two attempts draw a continuum of transformational changes that build a common platform over the next decade at least. While each is driven by their own transformation processes (called "shifts) they share some common aspirations, namely five system aspirations to enhance access, equity, quality, unity, and efficiency; in addition to six student aspirations on expending knowledge, thinking skills, leadership, language literacy, ethics and spirituality, and national identity.
These aspirations are entwined with each other where the different "shifts" act as levers in ensuring that the relationships are not only complete but wholesome. This will be the measure of how successful the transformation is, and how spot-on is the implementation to shift the entire education system as planned.
There are fundamentally 7As that are vital to characterise a successful education system universally. The first A is accessibility, that is, how many people – from children to adults – can be educated without much difficulty, financially or otherwise. While at some levels the numbers are very encouraging, especially with the provision of universal education, this is not so as we go up the education ladder.
This takes us to the second A, affordability, meaning even though education is accessible but it may not be affordable as in the case of higher education mainly. They have been getting more prohibitive over the years and the disparities between those who can afford a good education and those who are not able to keeps widening. So much so education is becoming a source of socio-economic imbalance instead of the reverse. Governments too are confronted with the issue of affordability as the cost for education escalates at a rate of about 15% a year in Malaysia. Accessibility is therefore constrained by the financial-related considerations which are beginning to distort the educational balance when public spending is thinly spread over too many demands.
The third A is appropriateness. This includes the issue of quality and context, the definition of success and excellence, indeed the model of the education system itself.
Most of these issues are sadly herded by a one-size-fits-all mentality to be benchmarked by the rest of the world. We seem to forget that education is as much about culture as national identity rooted in the National Philosophy of Education (NPE) of a country. Thus for Malaysia the NPE emphasises on the nurturing of a balanced human being (insan seimbang) nourished by the belief in God, and not – as the case today, of "human capital" that is dictated by the "free" market.
The fourth A is autonomy through which the first three As can be consolidated taking into account the diverse and unique context that allows for a viable quality education to meet the need of the individual, community (including family) and the nation. Finland is an excellent example. It recognises at once the richness of other creative models that are locally relevant but with a global outreach. The idea of a "national" university is one where it becomes a cultural conduit to connect to the various worlds of education in the spirit of being truly international.
Autonomy invariably conjectures another A – academic freedom, which in essence is the thought and intellectual force that enriches the education system at all levels in the search for truth for humanity as a whole. Such is the demand on education beyond the narrow prevailing colonised market logic of mere material acquisition. With it is the penultimate A, accountability, which dwells on the deeper practice of ethics, integrity and moral responsibility without which creates what is known as "an education without soul" or "heartless education" that is so prevalent today. It tends to corrupt more than it educates.
Lastly, A for availability. All these must be readily available within an ecosystem that links the 7As optimally in our "own mould" as desired by Wawasan 2020. Only then we can be assured of a meaningful education transformation that we Malaysians can take pride in! Maybe a bonus A – Apex!
|04 March 2015|
The overall Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) achievement declined with fewer students scoring straight A’s, and educators attribute this to possibly a change in the way questions were structured.
Of the 429,003 students who took the examination last year, 11,289 (2.63%) scored straight A’s – compared to 13,970 (3.16%) out of 442,588 students in 2013.
The National Average Grade (GPN) was at 5.08, compared with 4.93 in 2013. (A lower GPN shows a better overall performance).
Education director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof said the decline in student performance and the reduced number of top scorers could be due to a change in the way questions were structured.
“The questions were the same as before, but students now need to think more when they answer. They can’t just revise lessons the old way, or spot questions, to do well,” he said.
“Those who took the time to properly understand the subject matter would have done well.
“But the decline is still within the acceptable range, as the overall performance of students will rise and dip slightly through the years,” he said when announcing the analysis of the 2014 SPM results at the Education Ministry here yesterday.
The percentage of students who obtained SPM certificates also dropped slightly to 85.02%, from 85.52% the previous year.
This is the second SPM examination where students were required to pass History in addition to Bahasa Melayu, to qualify for a certificate.
The percentage of students who passed the English subject fell from 80% in 2013 to 77.3%.
English will be made a compulsory pass in the SPM from 2016. Some 86% of students passed History in 2014 compared to 86.6% in 2013, while 91.1% passed Bahasa Melayu in 2014 compared to 91.4% in 2013.
Comparing the performance of urban and rural students, Dr Khair said rural school candidates scored GPN points of 5.4 compared to the 4.85 garnered by those from urban schools.
“The performance gap between urban and rural candidates has narrowed to 0.55, compared with 0.60 in 2013,” he said.
Under the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, the ministry has steadily increased the number of “higher order thinking skills” questions in public examinations, with such questions expected to comprise 75% of papers for SPM core subjects by 2016.
|04 March 2015|
The percentage of candidates who scored a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average (CGPA) in Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) 2014 has increased.
The 2014 examination saw a 0.91% increase or 390 candidates obtaining a 4.0 CGPA compared to 0.89% or 492 candidates in the previous year.
Although the percentage has improved, the lower number of candidates is due to a decrease in the number of students who registered for STPM last year compared to 2013.
Malaysian Examination Council (MEC) president Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin noted a drop in candidates, from 58,355 students in 2013 to 48,615 students last year.
“It is a drop of 16.69% (9,740 candidates),” he told reporters when announcing the analysis of the STPM 2014 results yesterday.
He said the MEC would investigate the reason behind the drop, adding that the second group of STPM candidates who underwent the new modular format did better than the pioneer batch of 2013.
STPM has undergone a change in format from the terminal system, which was based on one final exam, to the modular system, which assesses students continuously over three terms in Sixth Form.
While candidates can take up to five subjects for STPM, Prof Mohd Noh said the CGPA points are calculated based on the best scores for four subjects, including General Studies.
“The average CGPA for government schools went up from 2.55% in 2013 to 2.62% last year,” he said, adding that 10 out of 3,039 candidates who took five subjects got straight As for STPM 2014.
He also said the percentage of candidates who passed all their subjects increased to 97.81% (41,915 candidates) compared to 2013, which saw a passing rate of 96.85% (53,494 candidates).
“These improvements show that student performance will continue to improve under the new format,” he added.
He said this was because under the new format, candidates sit for their finals at the end of every semester and are tested based on that semester’s subject content alone.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin congratulated students who obtained their results yesterday.
“The students’ success is the result of hard work by their families and teachers, too,” he said in a statement.
If you are over the age of 30, you are no longer deemed a “youth” under a new official definition that is targeted to start in 2018.
Currently, youths in the country are those aged 15 to 40. This is considered a far cry from the international standards of the definition.
The United Nations defines it as being between the ages of 15 and 24 while the Commonwealth’s definition is between 15 and 29.
The change in the National Youth Development Policy will mean that leaders of youth organisations surpassing the new stipulated age of 30 will have to step down to make way for younger leaders, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin(pic) said yesterday.
He said the move would see younger leadership candidates being groomed in keeping with international standards.
Announcing this during the fourth sitting of the 2013-2014 National Youth Consultative Council here,
Khairy said the 2018 deadline would allow organisations enough time to implement these changes.
“During the next three years, we will implement training programmes to ensure these youth are
ready to take over leadership roles.”
The organisations affected by this change would be groups registered with the Registrar of Youth.
The country's policy determining the age of youth was last reviewed in 1997.
On another matter, Khairy said the Government must come up with fresh measures to combat “social extremism” among Malaysian youths.
Defining it as “a lifestyle that is not in line with eastern culture, religious beliefs, the country's laws and the federal constitution”, Khairy said it involved the “ultra liberal” as well as “ultra orthodox” groups.
“We have seen some of our youth attracted and willing to travel to war zones to fight for the Islamic State,
claiming that this is the true religious struggle and the true jihad,” he said at a press conference later.
“This is a threat to us. We have to prepare a policy and a direction which can fulfil the ideals and needs of young people.”
A wide net has been cast on those barred from leaving the country by the Immigration Department.
And it is not just tax offenders and those with criminal records who face a rude shock at border checkpoints or at the airport.
The latest figures show some 85,000 National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) beneficiaries who did not repay their loans on the department’s travel blacklist.
They are among 1.14 million people on the list which includes 701,266 Malaysians.
The department has advised Malaysians to check their Immigration status prior to making holiday plans overseas to avoid problems.
“It is the responsibility of the traveller to first check if they are cleared to leave the country.
“It doesn’t matter if you are planning to leave by flight, road, rail or sea.
“As long as you are on the blacklist, you will not be allowed to pass the Immigration checkpoint, even if you have a valid flight ticket,” Immigration security and passport division director Ibrahim Abdullah told The Star.
As of Sept 3, the department’s overseas travel restriction orders included those who have been declared with outstanding debt issues. There were 277,693 such Malaysians named by the Insolvency Department.
Malaysians who have violated a foreign country’s immigration laws, such as by overstaying or abusing their travel visas, are also not spared.
Ibrahim said the countries concerned may bar the defaulters from re-entering the country and this information would be shared with the local Immigration department, such as Malaysia’s, which would then put the defaulter on a watchlist.
A total of 32,516 Malaysians were in this category for having overstayed in another country, alongside 115,803 foreigners who have similarly overstayed in Malaysia and are now barred from leaving the country.
“If any Malaysians on the watchlist try to leave the country, they will be stopped and taken in for an interrogation until it is satisfied that they will not commit the same act in another country again,” said Ibrahim.
Stubborn tax defaulters make up a sizeable group on the travel blacklist, with 135,111 persons named by the Inland Revenue Board.
The Star has reported on Aug 26 that defaulters will not be allowed to travel abroad until they have settled their tax obligations.
The treatment will be the same for those with outstanding issues with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), such as those who failed to file their EPF contributions. There were 10,219 Malaysians and 532 foreigners listed under this category.
Another 133,314 non-citizens have been barred from leaving the country for having their citizenship revoked or application rejected by the National Registration Department.
This is on top of 88,830 foreigners who had entered the country illegally and have been classified under the Immigration’s Kes Tanpa Izin.
An unusual cluster of 210 Malaysians were also placed under this category which, according to Ibrahim, had referred to those who have been identified by the Home Ministry as having been involved in activities involving illegal foreign workers.
Several other categories were criminally-linked, including those under police observation (15,699 cases) and for drug-related charges (7,673 cases) or crime (5,090 cases).
There were also 4,953 Malaysians barred from overseas travel for violating Customs regulations.
To find out if you are barred from travelling abroad, one needs only to enter the MyKad number on the department’s travel status check portal at http://sspi2.imi.gov.my/
“If they have been barred, they must be present in person at the nearest Immigration passport and security division, where they will be told why they are not allowed to leave.
“This is to avoid identity abuse by a third party as we do not want private information to be divulged to an impostor,” Ibrahim said.
PT3 exams replace LCE for Form Three Students
More than 450,000 candidates are sitting for the Form Three Assessment (Pentaksiran Tingkatan 3 or PT3), which ends on Thursday. It began yesterday.
This is the first time that the PT3 is being held as until last year, Form Three students sat for the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) — which was abolished at the end of last year.
Education director-general Datuk Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof said under the PT3 assessment system, school principals would be responsible for the management and marking of the answer scripts.
“However, the Examinations Syn-dicate and state education department will also act as moderators to ensure the validity and reliability of the scores of candidates,” said Dr Khair.
He said although the students would be sitting for the exams during the same time frame, the questions are likely to differ between schools.
“We provide several sets of questions and the schools would decide which set they wished to download,” said Dr Khair.
Students are sitting for Bahasa Melayu, English, Mathematics, Science, Islamic Education, Living Skills, Arabic, Chinese, Tamil, Iban, Punjabi and Kadazandusun this week.
In June this year, Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that the case study instrument assessment for history and geography would be held in July while the oral test (listening and speech) for English and Bahasa Melayu would take place in August with the written tests in October.
SMK Sentul Utama senior assistant (administration and co-curriculum) Zainon Harun said her school would follow the standard operating procedure that had been provided.
Zainon, who is in charge of administering the PT3 in her school, said her role was to ensure that the whole process was conducted according to instruction.
“We have to make sure that we follow the rules and procedures,” she said, adding that these covered the entire process — from downloading the questions to storage in the school’s safe/vault.
College is Greencity International College, Lence Academy, Oxon Academy
Lured by the promise of working on cruise ships, a group of Nepalis spent thousands of ringgit to enrol in a local college but ended up being stranded here, earning pittance as interns.
Most of them feared being arrested as they did not even have their passports, which were supposedly sent to the Immigration Department for visa extensions.
More than 80 Nepalese have become such victims and those who got back their passports have since returned home – without any full refunds on their fees.
Raju, 33, is one such victim. He gave up his job in a pharmaceutical company in Nepal, left his wife and infant son, to enrol in the “exclusive” Certificate in Cruise Operation Management course conducted by Lence Academy.
“I wanted to give my family a good future and a good life,” he told The Star at his dingy apartment in Puchong recently
While in Nepal, he had seen newspaper advertisements guaranteeing jobs aboard cruise liners that paid in US dollars, which applicants could get if they signed up for the course.
Among the advertisers was Oxon Institute & Consultancy, a company that worked with Lence Academy to enrol the Nepalese.
Like the others, Raju who arrived in October last year on a six-month student visa, believed that he would be interning at a five-star hotel or a fine dining restaurant before being hired by a cruise liner company.
Instead, he was sent by Greencity International College – a sister company of Lence Academy that shared the same address – to work in a small restaurant here as a general worker.
He said the students were told that their internships would run on days when there were no classes. Frustrated, he joined some of his coursemates to work as interns in a pub.
By May, Raju was still working in the pub and despite several cruise job interviews and promises from the college, he was none the nearer in landing his dream job.
Balram, 24, said several students were sent for multiple interviews with cruise companies.
“None got a chance to work,” he said.
Another student, Rajendra, 24, said an agent linked to the college took him and several others to intern at a pub.
He said when they objected, wanting a hotel internship as promised, they were told that they must pass a hotel recruitment process.
“I started the internship at the pub two months ago and I was told to start all over again if I stopped,” he said.
Rajendra said he and the others worked in pubs for at least up to 12 hours a day, five times a week, and were only paid between RM700 and RM800 a month.
When he demanded in May to be sent home, he was told to apply for a special pass to go back and given only about 10% of the RM18,230 in fees that he paid to the college last year.
Raju said he borrowed money from friends and family and going home empty-handed was not justified and shameful.
“What am I going to tell them back home?”
Dharmalal, 25, said his brother and fellow student Narayan, 28, had gone missing for more than a month. “I fear that he could be in a detention centre for not having any legal documents.”
Following complaints against Greencity International College, previously known as the Orange International College in November last year, Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan was quoted as saying that the claims were being investigated.
However, there has not been any indication on the outcome of the probe so far.
When contacted, the college’s assistant marketing manager Celine Ong said foreign students were only given “job opportunities” and not “job guarantees” after they had completed their course.
|Ministry to aid Pugsom students|
The Education Ministry will work with Perdana University to resolve problems faced by its students at the Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine (Pugsom).
It was reported in an online portal yesterday that the US-based Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine had terminated its contract with Pugsom last month.
Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said the ministry was still in discussions with Perdana University to “do what is important for the students”.
Pugsom admitted its first batch of students for its four-year medical programme in collaboration with Johns Hopkins in 2011.
Johns Hopkins’ director of marketing and communications Lindsay R. Rothstein said the institution had pulled out of Pugsom due to late payment of fees.
“At the time the agreement was terminated, Johns Hopkins had not been paid for more than 12 months of work,” Rothstein said via e-mail.
When asked if the students could transfer to Johns Hopkins University in the United States, Rothstein replied that there were “no updates” on the matter.
Launched in 2011, Perdana University is run by the Academic Medical Centre Sdn Bhd (AMC), a subsidary of Chase Perdana Sdn Bhd.
Pugsom is one of the two medical schools under Perdana University, with the other being the Perdana University-Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI).
The university is currently operating from its temporary campus near the Mardi headquarters in Serdang.
Pugsom vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Sothi Rachagan said that AMC had paid a total of US$34.199mil (RM107.9mil) to Johns Hopkins to date, including the last payment of US$2mil (RM6.3mil).
“US$5mil (RM15.7mil) was paid towards the Swami Institute for International Medical Education established at Johns Hopkins University and a further US$29.199mil (RM92.16mil) as part of the affiliation and collaboration agreement.
“AMC and Johns Hopkins are in dispute over whether any further sums are payable and the failure of Johns Hopkins to address the many grievances of AMC and Perdana University.
“The dispute will be resolved in accordance with the Affiliation and Collaboration Agreement with Johns Hopkins,” he said in a statement.
Dr Sothi also said that the university would take steps to ensure that the rights of the 80 students enrolled at Pugsom would not be “in any way compromised”.
TOP SCHOLARS: He says govt aims to retain best talent in pursuit of human capital development
We urge all Malaysian students studying abroad to return home on completion of their studies and serve as agents in the nation's national transformation mission.
Muhyiddin said human capital development had always been a top priority for the government to produce "a pool of talent for the future".
"In achieving high-income nation status, human capital development is an important instrument to attract and retain individuals who are knowledgeable and possess exemplary interpersonal skills.
"The Barisan Nasional government is well aware of the importance of retaining the best national talent and the National Scholarship Programme is a long-term investment to achieve that agenda."
Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, said this during the presentation of the 2014 National Scholarships to 50 outstanding performers for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination last year.
Present were Public Service Department (PSD) director-general Tan Sri Mohamad Zabidi Zainal and education deputy director-general (management) Datuk Wan Khazanah Ismail.
Muhyiddin said the government had announced two initiatives in 2011 to provide PSD scholars with the opportunity to pursue their careers in one of the 12 fields listed under the National Key Economic Area (NKEA).
The Talent Acceleration in Public Service (TAPS), he said, was an initiative to transform the civil service into a high-performing, inclusive and citizen-centric body, while the Scholarship Talent Attraction and Retention (STAR) was introduced in collaboration with PSD and TalentCorp to expose graduates to government-linked companies and selected private companies.
"To date, I understand that 400 companies, comprising GLCs and the private sector, have joined the programme. They include Petronas, Bank Negara Malaysia, Maxis and Khazanah Nasional.
"PSD scholars who are not offered a job in the government sector will be eligible for STAR."
Muhyiddin also congratulated the recipients of the scholarship on their excellent achievements and paid tribute to the contributions of their parents and teachers.
"Our efforts to train quality human capital are not limited to academic achievement alone.
"It must be complemented with a sense of spirituality, morals, ethics and integrity, which are the cornerstones of holistic development," he said.
The National Scholarship Programme was first introduced in 2010 to allow recipients to pursue courses at local and international universities recognised by the government.
The first batch saw 30 SPM high fliers being selected to further their studies locally and overseas. The number of recipients has increased to 50 since 2012.
All recipients will undergo a two-year preparatory course at local institutions determined by the government and must meet a certain level of excellence to be eligible to study abroad.
The percentage of students who scored a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average (CGPA) was slightly higher under the new modular format introduced in last year’s Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) examination.
Of the 55,214 students who completed the exam last year, 492 (0.89%) candidates scored a CGPA of 4.0, compared to 442 (0.86%) in 2012.
While the students are allowed to take up to five subjects for STPM, the CGPA points are calculated based on the best scores received for four subjects including General Studies.
Even then, Malaysian Examinations Council chairman Prof Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin said the results in 2012 and 2013 were not comparable as the formats differed.
STPM has undergone a change in format from the terminal system which was based on one final exam to the modular system which assessed students continuously over the three terms in Sixth Form.
Students, who entered Lower Sixth in 2012, sat for the first-term exam in November 2012, followed by the second-term exam in May 2013, and the final in November the same year.
They were then allowed to resit their papers in every consecutive term exam. The last batch of students just finished resitting their papers for their third-term exam on Tuesday.
On the other hand, students had to complete field work or Science projects which carried a weightage of 20% to 40%.
“Students were allowed to sit for the same paper up to six times in order to improve their scores,” said Prof Dr Mohd Noh when announcing the STPM results here yesterday.
He added that 50% of the candidates repeated their papers.
“Students who have just resat their papers for their third-term exam will be able to receive their results by the end of April. They can then update their results in their university application thereafter,” said Prof Dr Mohd Noh, who is also Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia vice-chancellor.
Earlier, Prof Dr Mohd Noh said the total number of candidates who passed all their papers in five or four subjects improved from 24,506 candidates (47.4%) in 2012 to 34,661 (62.8%) last year.
“There was also an improvement in the number of government school candidates who passed all their papers for five or four subjects, that is 34,318 (63.2%) in 2013 compared to 23,698 (49.7%) in 2012,” he said.
“There is still a significant gap between the performance of urban and rural candidates.
“The total number of urban candidates who scored 5As, 4As and 3As is 1,189 (12.0%) compared to only 156 (1.58%) rural candidates,” he added.
Prof Dr Mohd Noh explained that it was difficult to fully credit the modular format with the better results as the quality of the Sixth Form modules had also been improved through the Education Ministry’s efforts.
PUTRAJAYA: The percentage of candidates who were able to obtain Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) certificates fell from 91.2% in 2012 to 85.2% in 2013.
Education director-general Datuk Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof however denied that the drop in the percentage of candidates who qualify for the SPM certificates was the direct result of History being made a must-pass subject in SPM starting 2013.
"History may have an impact to the decrease in the percentage of students receiving the SPM certificates but a combination of subjects contribute to fewer students who qualify.
"For instance, candidates who have passed History but failed Bahasa Melayu would still not be able to obtain the SPM certificates," Khair said when releasing the analysis of SPM results at the Education Ministry on Thursday.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced in 2010 that History would be made a must-pass subject in SPM starting 2013 along with Bahasa Melayu.
Khair said candidates who failed History could resit the paper during June and July this year.
The percentage of candidates who passed History in 2013 was 86.6% compared to 80.3% in 2012.
As for Bahasa Melayu, the passing percentage was 91.4% in 2013 compared to 91.1% in 2012.
Khair said the overall SPM achievement in 2013 improved from the year before, with the National Average Grade at 4.93 compared with 5.08 in 2012.
The lower the National Average Grade is, the better the performance of students.
A total of 405 candidates (0.21%) of 442,588 candidates scored straight A+ in all papers.
"Of the top scorers, 366 candidates were from national schools while 39 were from other schools or private candidates," said Khair
A TOTAL of 30,988 or 7.33 per cent of the 422,506 candidates of the last batch of students sitting the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination this year, scored grade A in all subjects, compared with 30,474 last year.
Education director-general Datuk Dr Khair Mohamad Yusof said this was an increase of 0.41 per cent or 514 candidates, who scored all As, from last year's results.
"There was improvement in all subjects, except Bahasa Melayu, which saw a drop of 0.03 point in Subject Grade Point Average (GPMP) from 2.32 last year."
Khair said the number of candidates who obtained Grade E in all subjects increased to 307 (0.07 per cent) from 241 last year.
"The results showed urban candidates outperformed those in rural areas," he said, adding that the number of urban candidates who scored A in all subjects rose 0.64 per cent, from 8.81 per cent last year to 9.45 per cent this year, while in the rural areas, there was a 0.73 per cent increase in top scorers.
Khair said the results showed candidates scored better in English, while Mathematics and Science saw an increase of 0.03 and 0.04 GPMP point, respectively.
He said the performance of those with special needs, totalling 2,300 candidates, saw a slight drop of straight A scorers, from 14 to 11.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in congratulating those who excelled in PMR, said he hoped the students would be able to sustain their efforts towards achieving bigger successes in the future.
"Congratulations to all students who achieved excellent results in the PMR. Carry on with your efforts as this is the start of bigger successes to come," he tweeted.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also education minister, also conveyed his congratulations to the candidates who excelled in this year's PMR.
"Congratulations to students who achieved outstanding results in the PMR. Congratulations and thanks to the parents and teachers for their sacrifice and toil," he tweeted.
In Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territory Education Department director Abdullah Mad Yunus said although the number of straight As students decreased to 1,683 compared to 1,838 last year, the GPMP for 10 of the 14 subjects was higher than the average grade at the national level.
"Overall performance improved as the state average grade index of 2.57 is higher than the national average grade index of 2.67," he said, adding the results correlated with the lower number of students who sat for the examinations this year (19,440 students) compared with last year's 20,846.
The top four performing schools in Kuala Lumpur which scored 100 per cent passing rate were SM Sains Selangor, SM Agama Kuala Lumpur, SM Kebangsaan Aminuddin Baki and SM Agama Majlis Agama Islam Wilayah Persekutuan.
In Johor, state Education Department director Mohd Nor A. Ghani said 3,948 candidates, including three special needs students, scored straight As, compared with 3,916 candidates last year.
He said SMK Sultan Ismail recorded the highest number of straight A scorers (155 students), followed by SMK Tinggi Kluang (144) and Sekolah Tun Fatimah (130).
He said the state overall achievement improved this year with a State Average Grade (GPN) of 2.65 as compared with 2.69 last year.
In Sarawak, state Education Department director Datuk Abdillah Adam said more rural students scored straight As this year.
"This year's results showed the gap between urban and rural students had narrowed," he said, adding 1,729 of the 37,375 candidates scored all As, an increase of 0.05 per cent, from 4.58 per cent last year to 4.63 per cent this year. He said the achievement was the best in 11 years.
In Penang, state Education director Datuk Ahmad Tarmizi Kamaruddin said, 2,268 of the 23,164 candidates obtained all As, including 232 students with 9As and 1,633 with 8As, Bernama reported.
He said SM Sains Tun Syed Sheh Shahabuddin emerged the best school, followed by SMK Bukit Jambul and SMK Agama Al-Irshad.
In Kedah, the number of candidates who scored all As increased to 6.8 per cent, from 5.94 per cent last year.
Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir said the number of candidates who scored all As increased by 0.14 per cent, from 2,083 in 2012 to 2,264 this year, Bernama reported.
"This showed an increase of 2.52 per cent, from 64.29 per cent last year to 66.78 per cent this year. The average grade increased by 0.08 point, from 2.81 last year to 2.73 this year," he said at SMK Sultanah Bahiyah today.
He said 13 schools obtained 100 per cent passes in PMR this year.
In Malacca, state Education Department director Kasim Mohamad said 1,011 of the 13,661 candidates obtained all As, an increase of 0.56 per cent from 982 candidates last year. He said the State Average Grade (GPN) was the best in 10 years and six schools obtained 100 per cent passes.
The six schools were SM Sains Muzaffar Shah, SMK Tinggi Perempuan Melaka, SMK Ghafar Baba, SMKA Sharifah Rodziah, SMK Dang Anum and SMA (JAIM) Assaiyidah Khadijah.
In Terengganu, state Education Department director Zakaria Hussin said this year's result was the best in nine years with 1,733 or 8.19 per cent of the 21,159 candidates obtaining all As, an increase of 175 people or 1.04 per cent from 1,558 candidates (7.15 per cent) last year. Twenty-eight of the 138 schools achieved GPN of between 1.00 and 1.80, he added.
In Perak, State Education Director Muhamat Roli Hassan said 3,200 students scored straight As, compared with 3,176 candidates last year. He said 38,872 candidates sat for the PMR examination at 315 centres in the state and 2,205 candidates from urban schools and 905 students from rural schools obtained A in all subjects.
In Negri Sembilan, 1,653 candidates from government schools obtained A in all subjects.
The 10 schools were Kolej Tunku Kurshiah; Sekolah Datuk Abdul Razak; SM Sains Rembau; SM Sains Tuanku Ja'afar; SM Agama Persekutuan Labu; SMK Agama Datuk Haji Abu Hassan; SMK King George Kelima; Sekolah Berasrama Penuh Integrasi Jempol; SMK Agama Sheikh Haji Mohd Said and SMK Puteri.
In Sabah, state Education Department deputy director Maimunah Suhaibul said 23,622 candidates or 63.86 per cent obtained D in all subjects, adding that the number of candidates who obtained straight As dropped to 916 people this year, from 922 last year.
The 10 schools with the best results were SM Sains Lahad Datu, SM Sains Sabah, SMKA Kota Kinabalu, SM Islamiah, Tawau; SMKA Tun Ahmad Shah, SMKA Mohd Ali, Ranau; SMKA Sandakan, SM St Micheal, Penampang; SMKA Tun Mustapha and SM St All Saints.
In Perlis, 307 candidates obtained A in all subjects compared with 244 candidates last year.
In Kelantan, this year's result was the best in six years, said state Education Department director Hussain Awang as 1,655 or 6.78 per cent of the 34,000 candidates obtained straight As.
DO NOT BE a VICTIM of FRAUD
The Australian Government has warned Malaysians not to be fooled by claims that their visas can be purchased, particularly in Kuala Lumpur.
Australian High Commissioner Miles Kupa said there has been a rise in the number of scams or fraudaulent schemes advertising such claims.
“We warn people to be very cautious regarding claims concerning Australian visas that are allegedly for sale. These claims are not true. Australian visas are not for sale. Visas can only be obtained through official channels,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Kupa was responding to a press report last month that said that human traffickers are selling passports and visas to Australia for up to A$15,000 (RM43,500) in a move that allowed asylum-seekers to bypass the often perilous boat journeys to the country.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation secretly filmed meetings in Malaysia between an Iraqi national called Abu Tarek and potential customers, where the former was captured in the act of offering to provide the documents.
Kupa said Australia, which shares close ties with Malaysia, welcomed genuine visitors and migrants, and advised the public to go through reputable channels when seeking their visas.
He also urged the public with information about scams in relation to Australian visas to inform the High Commission by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
More information on proper processes to obtain Australian visas in Malaysia can be found at www.vfsglobal.com/australia/malaysia or www.malaysia.highcommission.gov.au.
The Immigration Department has denied that it is responsible for alleged cases of foreign students facing inordinate delays in receiving their visas after submitting their applications through the Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS).
“Since EMGS came into the picture, we have successfully cleared 19,400 backlogged files (involving student visa applications) in September this year. Whatever we have now is current, so there is no issue of delay,” said the department’s visa, pass and permit division director, Abdul Wahap Abdul Hamid.
“We advise all students and their colleges or universities to apply for the extension of the student pass at least eight weeks before the expiry date.
“If they can adhere to this requirement, we guarantee that the student pass will be issued within 14 working days,” Abdul Wahap said at the Immigration headquarters here yesterday.
Since February this year, foreign students have been required to submit their passports to EMGS, which was set up by the Education Ministry to streamline the processing of student visas.
The Star reported on Sunday claims by many foreign students in Malaysia that they faced delays in renewing their visas through this process.
Some said their passports were withheld for months while others claimed the delay had caused them to pay extra for special passes in order to continue staying in the country.
Abdul Wahap said no one in the department were permitted to hold on to any passports except its enforcement unit.
Meanwhile, Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said he was inundated by e-mails from students over the issue in the last two days.
“I’ve received over 100 e-mails so far. It was sad to read that some students weren’t able to attend important functions back home as their passports were withheld.
“I’ve forwarded their e-mails to EMGS, and I was told that they would try to expedite the visa processing for these students,” he said.
Kamalanathan added those with such problems can contact him at email@example.com
Malaysia's Deputy Education Minister - Mr Kamalanathan - says
Foreign students who are “stuck” in the country because their passports are being held for the processing of student visas can directly appeal for help from Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan.
A high number of foreign students have sought help from The Star to highlight their plight after waiting for months for their visas.
Some of these students say they cannot return home for the holidays due to inordinate delays by Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS).
“Get in touch with me with your passport details so I can look into the matter.
“There is a solution for everything — we don’t want to be the reason for students to be kept away from their families during the festive season,” he said after opening the 26th Star Education Fair.
Kamalanathan said students with such passport woes can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The EMGS is a one-stop centre for foreign student enrolment that was set up by the then Higher Education Ministry (now merged with the Education Ministry) last year.
Kamalanathan said the ministry had in place a two-year moratorium on licences given out to institutions to admit foreign students in order to weed out rogue colleges.
“Don’t think that we have not been doing anything for these two years. We are ironing out all these issues to make sure that when the ministry starts issuing licences again in 2015, this problem will be resolved.
“If you’re misusing licences and abusing the system, action will surely be taken.
“We’re planning to work with enforcement officers in other ministries as a team as well,” he said.
Kamalanathan added that the EMGS will introduce a new profiling process for foreign students beginning next year, which will categorise them as either “low” or “high” risk students.
“Low risk students may enjoy several exemptions, which is similar to the ‘green lane’ policy, while high risk applicants will be subjected to the normal or enhanced screening process.
“This is to make sure that student visas are not abused.
“Unfortunately, there is a small number of students who are abusing their visas because someone has given them the platform to do so,” he said.
Kamalanathan said that the EMGS also had a “green lane” express visa clearance policy for foreign students enrolled in branch campuses of foreign universities as well as institutions that have achieved Tier Five or Six in the Rating System for Malaysian Higher Education Institutions (Setara).
Students who are studying at Setara Tier Five and Six institutions and foreign branch campuses will be granted visas for the duration of their courses instead of being subjected to annual renewal.
PETALING JAYA: Some 400 foreign students are crying foul over a college scam that saw them lose RM8mil on a non-existent diploma programme.
The students had paid RM20,000 each in tuition fees but later found out that the college did not offer such programmes.
Student Faheem Khan, 24, said he came from India for a diploma course in cruise management at a local college as he was promised a high salary and job placement after the programme.
“Instead of going to classes, we were sent to work at a five-star hotel for about 12 to 16 hours a day under the pretext of doing an internship,” he told a press conference organised by Tenaganita, here, yesterday.
Faheem said he filed a refund claim at the Consumer Tribunal and won the case but the private college appealed to the High Court.
“On Nov 19, the High Court upheld the decision but I am still afraid that the college might appeal again,” he said, adding that a police report against the college has been made.
Nepalese national Rojinna Risal, 22, quit her job at her home country as she thought that it was a reputable international college.
“The recruitment officer told us that we were guaranteed internship places at recognised cruise companies with salaries starting from RM4,838 to RM8,063.
“But they forced us to work at hotels instead.
“Our visas will expire soon and I am afraid that the college will get away with our money,” she said.
Tenaganita executive director Dr Irene Fernandez urged the authorities to seal the operations of the private college because it is still recruiting students from all over the world.
Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said the ministry would investigate the allegations against the institution, reports KANG SOON CHEN.
“We do not condone such practices.
“Action will be taken against the college if the allegations are true,” he said, adding that the ministry viewed the issue seriously because it could tarnish the image of the country as an international education hub.
Four Nigerian students were sentenced by the High Court here to four years’ imprisonment each after they pleaded guilty to kidnapping and wrongfully confining a private college student for 29 days three years ago.
Gebrel Mowaski, 31, Nduka Johnsin Samuel, 31, Igwa Ongebuchi Promise, 24, and Odimega Chiedozie, 30, had been charged with abducting the victim for ransom, an offence that carries the death sentence.
But the four pleaded guilty to alternative charges yesterday.
Mowaski and Samuel admitted to kidnapping the victim, now 30, with the intention of secretly and wrongfully confining him in a house in Bandar Damai Perdana, Kajang, between May 23 and June 20, 2010.
Promise and Chiedozie admitted having knowledge of the kidnapping and keeping the student confined.
It was learned that the victim came from a family of wealth and influence in Nigeria.
The kidnapped student, who was held captive and guarded by Promise and Chiedozie, feigned death on the 29th day.
The four accused then took him out of the house and threw him in a drain in Cyberjaya.
Following a police report, the four were detained.
DPP Aidatul Azura Zainal Abidin said the victim refused to attend the proceedings out of fear of his captors.
Justice Ahmadi Asnawi ordered the jail term to run from the date of arrest on June 20, 2010.
Three Nigerian college students were sentenced to death by a High Court here for trafficking 1008.3gm of methamphetamine two years ago.
Justice Kamardin Hashim made the decision after the defence failed to raise doubt against Chigozie Patrick Umeohudo, 26, Nnaemeka Nwafor, 25, and Chibuike Collions Nnebedum, 24, by end of defence case.
"I find that the testimonies by the defence could not be trusted, a mere denial and purely fictitious.
"The court finds that you are guilty and therefore, I sentence you to death," he said.
The accused were charged with trafficking at Jalan 4/40 in Taman Sri Segambut here at about 5.30pm on June 10, 2011.
In pleading for leniency, Chigozie and Chibuike's counsel Rajpal Singh said his clients had no previous conviction and came to Malaysia as students.
During the trial, it was revealed that the drugs were found in a biscuit tin.
A graduate of the University of Hull is repaying his alma mater by helping to set up the university’s first franchised branch campus out of the United Kingdom in Batu Kawan.
It will be the first international university campus in Seberang Prai and the second of its kind in Penang.
Datuk Michael Tio, who graduated from the university in 1991, said the project would be undertaken by PKT Logistics Group Sdn Bhd of which he is the group chief executive and managing director.
The branch campus will focus on Engineering, Law, Accountancy and Logistics.
“The project is supported by the Federal Government. The state government is allocating a 2ha plot of land,” he said after a press conference by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng who announced the setting up of the branch campus.
Tio said the campus was one of the components of PKT’s One Auto Hub which would be set up in Batu Kawan.
The hub comprises components such as automotive logistics facilities, warehouse, hotel, pavilion, jetty and mangrove walk or animal sanctuary.
Tio, who is president of Hull Alumni Malaysia, said the project called “The Ship Campus”, was undertaken under the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility programme.
He said the construction work was expected to begin next year and the student intake would be in 2017.
Lim said the branch campus would further boost the development of Batu Kawan as the third satellite township in the state.
He said the faculties and courses were subject to the final approval of the Education Ministry.
Lim said PKT Logistics, through its subsidiary ALC College, would sign a franchise agreement with the university next month.
The University of Hull is located in Hull on the northern shore of the Humber Estuary in England.
It was developed from the University College Hull, which was founded in 1927 and opened in 1928.
The Duke of York (George VI) laid the foundation stone in 1928.
A smoother experience awaits Malaysian students applying for visas to Britain as the rush period begins.
A huge surge in applications is expected with the A-level results set to be announced this week.
Britain has granted two significant exemptions in the visa application process for Malaysian students – they no longer need to provide documentary evidence of financial maintenance and education qualifications.
Deputy High Commissioner Ray Kyles (pic) said these requirements had been removed due to the high degree of immigration compliance from Malaysian students.
“There is also no issue of forged documents from Malaysian students. The application process will be much simpler now,” he said in an interview.
Last year, over 7,000 Tier 4 (student category) visas were issued to Malaysians to study in Britain with a 95% approval rating.
The High Commission expects a 10% increase in visa applications for the new British academic term.
Presently, students submit applications online under Britain’s points-based visa assessing system and have to go to VFS Global, Britain’s visa outsource centre located in Jalan Ampang, here, to have their biometric data taken.
Their passports are then couriered to Britain’s regional visa processing hub in Manila where the visa is issued, or rejected, before the documents are flown back.
Kyles said the visa processing period was set at 15 working days but approvals were usually given within seven to eight days.
“There is also a priority service in which the period can be cut to three or four days,” he pointed out.
Kyles said Malaysian students were, however, required to submit a Tuberculosis (TB) clearance certificate from an approved clinic with their applications, adding that the rule also covered individuals wanting to stay in Britain for over six months.
“This requirement covers 67 countries based on figures for high TB based incidence provided by the World Health Organisation,” he said.
Kyles added that the appointed clinics were in Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.
WHAT COUNTS: It doesn't matter how you travel, but whether you learnt anything from it
WHEN people who love travelling get together, the conversation always touches on their favourite subject: where they've come back from and where they're going next.
At times, the chat veers towards whether you did anything you weren't supposed to on your travels, but since this is a respectable publication, let's not go there.
Occasionally, but especially in the company of people you've just met, there is a tendency for some to brag about where they've been. This sometimes happens among acquaintances or even friends, but is more common among travellers who find themselves thrown into a new group of like-minded people.
You can detect when someone is in bragging mode when he (it's almost always a he in this case) showcases all the hardship he's been through on his travels. If, for example, you relate how you reached Bangkok by bus from Phnom Penh, this person will be the first to scoff and say, "That can't have been any worse than the 24-hour bus ride I took from (insert name of obscure South American town here) to (insert name of equally obscure South American town here). That was insane!"
Wait for a split second and you just might hear someone else saying, "That's not as bad as what I had to go through! I was on a bus for 33 hours, no air-conditioning, just wooden seats, from (A) to (B)," much to the chagrin of the first guy, who has clearly been upstaged. After all, what better way for a traveller to introduce himself than with tales of misery and suffering, or so the second guy thinks.
I have never understood the notion that one must experience misery in order to truly "travel", that one must go through torturous bus rides, muggings and stay at rat-infested hotel rooms to claim to be a world traveller. I've witnessed a conversation similar to the one described above and was struck by how badly each of the characters wanted to prove that he had suffered more and was, therefore, more deserving of attention and praise.
The view that a person who has travelled in harsh conditions is superior than one who hasn't stems from the idea that an independent traveller faces more challenges than one who follows an organised tour. After all, which tour company in its right mind would allow its customers to travel by public bus from Mexico to Peru when an air-conditioned tour bus, luxury train coach or, better still, a plane would be the more comfortable option?
It follows, therefore, that someone who travels independently, being someone who has survived the hardships which he or she is more likely to experience, is seen by many as the "better" traveller.
I'm not a fan of tours but that's only because I don't like being told where to go and for how long. I prefer travelling independently because I enjoy mapping out a route by myself. I feel great satisfaction when I am able to arrive in a new country and tell myself, "I did this on my own."
I do, however, see the logic behind organised travel. Some places are more convenient to reach when you're part of a tour. The elderly or infirm will appreciate tours which are catered for them.
I myself have taken walking tours so that I know where to go to later on and, sometimes, it's just nice to have someone drive you around.
It is true that I face more challenges when I travel solo than when I'm with friends or family. I've missed a flight, gotten food poisoning, fallen and injured my back and had my money stolen when travelling alone, but before I start listing out my misfortunes like those two guys I met, surely it is not how you travel that matters or that makes you a good traveller, whatever that is.
The act of travel -- the physical movement from one point to another -- is in itself an achievement. It doesn't matter whether you prefer tours or independent travel. Preferring one does not make you better than the rest. The never-ending "tourists vs travellers" debate on who is superior than the other is tiresome, petty and pretentious. It does not matter how you travel. The real question is whether you've learnt anything from your travels.
PETALING JAYA: Malaysians applying for British student visas or travelling to the country for more than six months will now have to provide a tuberculosis (TB) clearance certificate from an approved clinic, said the British High Commission.
It said the requirement, which came into effect in December last year, had been extended to 67 countries, including Malaysia, based on data for high TB incidence provided by the World Health Organisation.
Meanwhile, Malaysians applying for a Tier 4 student visa, whose sponsor has Highly Trusted Sponsor status, will no longer have to provide documented evidence of financial maintenance and education qualifications.
Tier 4 student visas are for adults who want to go to or remain in Britain to further their studies.
For faster processing of visa applications at an additional fee, applicants can opt for the Priority Visa service, which cuts the processing time to between three and five working days from the usual 15-day period.
In a statement, British High Commissioner to Malaysia Simon Featherstone said 2012 had been a very good year for British student visas with 94% successful applications and 99% processed within the 15-day target.
“The majority of students this year will have the added benefit of not needing to submit education certificates and financial documents.
“As is the case for students going to Australia and the United States, students applying for UK visas will, however, need to provide a TB test certificate with their application so I do encourage them to make sure they get this as early as possible,” he said.
In the statement, the high commission added that it would once again offer mobile biometric clinics for British visa applicants in Sabah and Sarawak following the success of the service last year.
The service, it said, would be available at British Council offices in Kota Kinabalu and Kuching so applicants would not need to travel to Kuala Lumpur.
For inquiries on visa application, contact VFS Global Malaysia at 03-2164 9323 or e-mail email@example.com.
|20 June 2013|
SAVING TIME: This will speed up applications by foreign students
EDUCATION Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) will have an immigration team stationed at its office by September to speed up visa applications by international students.
EMGS, which isowned by the government, had recently drawn flak following allegations of mismanagement of its operation systems.
It had began operations last February, conducting a stringent vetting process for foreign students.
EMGS chief executive officer Yazid Hamid said the agency was committed to addressing issues related to the international students' visa approval system and thus the new measure of placing the immigration officers at its office.
"We can clear about 60 per cent of applications within the designated 14-day frame.
"We admit that there were cases which required more than 14 days to be processed, but these were mainly because of incomplete applications.
"Apart from that, a lot of time was also spent on sending documents to Putrajaya, where the Immigration Department is located."
On claims of a hefty processing fee imposed by the agency on students, he said a phone survey conducted by EMGS showed colleges were charging between RM4,500 and RM5,120 per application.
"Our processing fee of RM1,000 is only for new applications. The fee for visa renewal after the first year is RM140. "
Since it began operations, EMGS has received 7,733 and 1,071 new and visa renewal applications respectively.
An African parcel scam syndicate, which “sweet talked” three women in China out of about RM11.2mil by posing as Caucasians, was smashed by the police here with the arrest of 14 Nigerian men.
Although the syndicate was based in Malaysia, it had been targeting women in China, persuading them via social media and online messaging to part with their money.
The first two women were conned of US$1.5mil (RM4.5mil) each while the third victim was swindled of US$700,000 (RM2.1mil).
Federal Commercial Crimes Investigation Department (CCID) director Comm Datuk Syed Ismail Syed Azizan said it had received information about the syndicate in December last year from their Chinese counterparts.
“They contacted us after the women lodged police reports,” he said at Bukit Aman yesterday.
Following the information, a special team from the CCID managed to track down the syndicate before simultaneously raiding four premises in Taman Mutiara Indah, Puchong, and arresting the men on Thursday.
All the men, aged between 25 and 33, had entered the country on student visas in 2007 and were enrolled in local private colleges, said Comm Syed Ismail.
“In the scam, known also as the romance scam, the syndicate engaged wealthy women online via Yahoo Messenger and other social media.
“They would charm and seduce the women before claiming to send them expensive gifts like jewellery and diamonds,” he said, adding that the members would use the alias “Goodman” online.
“The victim would get a call that the ‘parcel’ had been held up for some reason and that she would need to pay some fees to Customs. In this case, the women were asked to deposit money in three separate bank accounts in stages before they realised that they had been scammed,” he said.
During the raid, police also seized seven laptops, three desktop computers, 27 mobile phones and various other electronic devices.
“We are also working to trace all the syndicate’s bank accounts and recover some of the money,” Comm Syed Ismail said, adding that they were also investigating how long the syndicate had been active.
All those detained have been remanded until Wednesday.
|21 March 2013|
2012 SPM Results announced on 21Mar13
SPM 2012: More straight A's but slight dip in average grade
More students scored straight A's in the 2012 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination than in the previous year.
A total of 15,793 out of 459,118 students scored straight A's in the examination, a 0.13% increase from 2011.
Additionally, a total of 481 top scorers received A+'s in all their subjects.
However, the national average grade (or GPN) took a dip from 5.04 in 2011 to 5.08 in 2012.
The GPN measures a student's overall performance in the examination, and a lower score indicates better student achievement.
Education director-general Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud said differences in GPN scores were only significant if they were 0.05 points or more.
"I have already instructed them (ministry staff) to look into the results of the examination to see how we can improve further," he told reporters after announcing the results here Thursday
The percentage of students who scored a perfect 4.0 CGPA was higher in last year's Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM).
Of the 51,673 candidates who sat for the examination in 2012, 442 (or 0.86%) candidates scored a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 compared to 300 (or 0.59%) candidates in 2011.
While students are allowed to take up to five subjects for the STPM, their CGPA scores are calculated based on scores received for the best four subjects including General Studies.
Malaysian Examinations Council chairman Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin said the number of students who scored 5As increased to 18 candidates from 12 in 2011.
“The total number of candidates who passed all their papers in five or four subjects improved too from 23,246 candidates (45.9%) in 2011 to 24,488 candidates (47.4%) in 2012.
“There was also an improvement in the number of government school candidates who passed all their papers for five or four subjects, that is 23,683 (49.6%) in 2012 compared to 22,430 (47.8%) in 2011,” he said when announcing the results here yesterday.
“There is still a significant gap in between the performance of urban and rural candidates.
“The total number of urban candidates who scored 5As, 4As and 3As is 1,105 compared to only 170 rural candidates,” added Prof Mohd Noh, who is also the vice-chancellor of Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia.
This is the last STPM under the old format.
From last year, Lower Six students undergo school-based assessments and are tested at the end of each semester, instead of having to sit for a final exam.
Prof Mohd Noh hoped continuous assessment will encourage more students to opt for STPM.
“STPM students under the new modular format had their first semester examinations in November last year.”
The inaugural batch of students under the new-look STPM will receive their first semester results this Thursday.
Nine private universities and university colleges have been identified by the Higher Education Ministry to undergo a sustainability review based on complaints the ministry had received from the public.
They are the Selangor Industrial University (Unisel), Insaniah University College (KUIN), Malaysian University of Science and Technology, Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST), Selangor International Islamic University College (KUIS), Twintech University College of Technology, Linton University College, Kuala Lumpur Metropolitan University College and Lincoln University College.
Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said the review would cover, among others, administrative issues and service quality.
"The private universities and university colleges are the main players involved in our aim to turn the country into an education hub. It is one of our main concerns to ensure the quality and infrastructure offered by them are of high standard."
Khaled said this at the launch of University Malaysia of Computer Science and Engineering (UniMy) -- the country's first boutique university here yesterday.
He said a committee, comprising representatives from public and private higher learning institutions, would carry out the review exercise from next month.
"The duration of the review will depend on the committee."
Khaled had on Monday announced that there would be sustainability review for 10 institutions yearly to identify universities that needed improvement.
On UniMy, Khaled said the first intake of students would begin in May, with 300 students taken in for preparatory studies, while the first batch of 300 degree students would start in September.
The university is expecting up to 3,000 students by 2016 and offers a five-year degree course, comprising one year of preparation, three years for first degree and another year for honours.
|27 Nov 2009|
Malaysian medical students adapt to life in Poland with aplomb, writes DAVID BOWDEN
WHEN Malaysian students Wan Atiqah Wan Abdul Rashid, Muhammad Saifullah Shaarani, Mohd Hamdan Mohd Ibrahim, Mohd Khairul Hanan Mohd Wajiah, Hadi Naqiuddin Subhi and Nursofia Diana Azmi received their tertiary studies appointment notices, it was an atlas that they first went to as a reference.
The students, along with some 60 other Malaysians, were being sent to a specific overseas destination to study medicine. The excitement mounted every day as they awaited their appointment notice but they were surprised when they saw that the university was in Warsaw.
Most scratched their heads and quickly looked at a map to find out just where this remote place was that they had heard of but knew little about.
They quickly discovered that Warsaw is the capital of Poland and the university they were to enter soon is the Medical University of Warsaw (MUW), the largest medical school in the country.
The students quickly made Google searches for information about the place that was going to be their home for the next six years.
The annual cultural show is an eagerly awaited event.
The good news for the Malaysian students is that the faculty has an English Division where the lessons are conducted in English. Medical studies in English are available to those who aren’t Polish citizens.
Each year, approximately 120 students are enrolled on the English programme with undergraduates coming from some 26 countries but mainly from Europe, the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia and now Malaysia. Successful students are admitted on the results of their high school grades, especially those in Chemistry, Biology, Physics and English.
There are now more than 100 Malaysian students studying Medicine in three Polish universities with the Malaysian programme having been in operation for three years. The course started as an initiative of the Polish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. All students receive government scholarships although fee-paying ones can apply to be admitted to the course.
The Malaysian students welcome the opportunity to have immediate contact with patients which is something that isn’t possible for undergraduate doctors locally. Most feel they are receiving a more rounded education as a result of this immediate patient contact.
MUW has 16 affiliated hospitals where students are trained in almost all fields of medicine. There are some 130,000 inpatients in these hospitals every year and the figure doubles when outpatients are also included.
Dean of Medicine Professor Jerzy Polanski claims that three times more students than can be placed apply for positions at MUW.
“Our degrees, which are recognised the world over, offer better value than in most other countries as they cost between Euro 11,000 (RM55,663) and Euro 14,000 per annum.
“While we still need a few additional facilities to make us truly world-class, the university and its teaching hospitals provide an excellent learning environment. We also train our overseas students in Polish as they have to communicate with patients while on the wards during their practical classes,” says Polanski.
Faculty of Medicine (English Division) deputy dean Professor Kazimierz Szopinski speaks emotively of his Malaysian students.
“I would gladly accept a whole intake from Malaysia as the students have been absolutely outstanding and highly motivated,” he says in an interview in Warsaw.
“They have fitted well into university life and have even injected new life and colour into the community. The employees and fellow students eagerly anticipate their annual cultural show which they put on for our benefit.”
WUM has more than 10,000 students and a staff of almost 1,600 academic teachers including 150 professors and 600 lecturers. The university offers nine principal subjects and in four specialties as well as postgraduate education (specialty training and refresher courses).
There are two main medical degrees offered with a four-year plan available to students who already have a relevant primary degree. There's an easy way to plan for retirement. Find out how.
For many years, MUW has collaborated in research with centres all over the world including France, Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the US. There are 16 formal agreements on scientific cooperation which involve exchange of research workers, joint research projects and publications.
Most Malaysian students interviewed at MUW like the weather despite it being different to what they are used to at home. Despite it getting quite cold with snowfalls in winter, most have learned to adapt especially as central heating is installed in all buildings.
They are all impressed with the friendliness of Polish people and they can even purchase halal food in some markets as well as in a few restaurants. Nursofia Diana, who grew up in Gombak, says many strangers greet them in the streets and make them feel welcome.
Wan Atiqah commented that there is a shop next to a mosque near the university that sells halal food and her Polish friends respect her religion and avoid serving food and drinks she can’t consume.
Mohd Khairul Hanan, from Kota Jembal in Kelantan, the president of the Malaysian Students’ Society of Poland, likes Warsaw’s public transport system because it is punctual and cheap. Students use it to travel to and from the university and around the city.
Hadi Naqiuddin from KL is one of the Malaysian students who is studying Medicine as a second degree to supplement his first bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine attained from Malaysia’s Management and Science University. He especially likes the relaxed learning environment at MUW.
It won’t come as any surprise to Malaysians to know that the students miss home with family, friends and food high among the things they miss most. Nursofia Diana misses her family and friends most of all and intends to catch up with them when she returns to KL. Mohd Hamdan misses nasi lemak, mee goreng and bihun sup but knows that when he returns to Malaysia as a fully-trained doctor, he will be able to enjoy these dishes and many more as often as he likes.
For more information on studies in English in Poland, visit the websites of the following universities:-
+ Medical University of Warsaw (www.wum.edu.pl/english)
+ Medicawl University of Lodz (www.umed.pl/eng)
+ Jagiellonian University (www.medschool.cm-uj.krakow.pl)
or the Embassy of Poland (www.kualalumpur.polemb.net)
MSL has student fares to POLAND
|26 Oct 2009|
Self-drive holidays are growing in popularity in Australia, especially among Asians, and it’s easy to see why — the freedom to go wherever you like without the restrictions of a group tour. You design your own itinerary, bring your friends or family along, turn the ignition and start your adventure.
Ahh, the endless open road! A new adventure awaiting you around the next bend. A journey of discovery and self-discovery. The road trip has been part of our pop culture ever since the Model T Ford became affordable to the masses back in the 1920s. Over the decades, Hollywood has featured it in countless films, mirroring the enthusiasm Americans have for this highly flexible and individualistic vacation.
But it seems the Australians have perfected what the Americans created. Today, our neighbours Down Under hit the road in record numbers to explore the amazing diversity of experiences their vast land has to offer. And more and more Asians are joining them in the fun.
Canberra is beautifully laid-out. - TOURISM AUSTRALIA & ERIK FEARN
Australia is built for road trips. The combination of excellent roads, small towns, awesome scenery and nice B&Bs makes road tripping probably the most rewarding and fun way to explore this vast country. Why? Because anyone who’s had the pleasure of going on their own self-drive adventure knows that the journey is half the fun.
It’s easy to do, too. Do a bit of homework first. Where do you feel like going? Who do you want to join in the adventure? How much time do you have? How many hours do you feel like driving each day? What can you see and do along the way? And where would you like to end up each evening. Then simply book your flight and your rental car. Then go!
One of the very best road trips in Australia is the Grand Pacific Drive/Canberra loop out of Sydney. The easy drive takes you along the uncongested and well marked coastal road that runs south out of Sydney and along the coast. After a couple of days exploring the New South Wales coast, pop inland to Canberra, the nation’s capital, and then back up to Sydney.
It’s the sort of easy yet adventurous trip that allows you to see and do lots of things without spending too much time on the road. If you have at least four to five days to play with, this is the trip to do.
Fly into Sydney and spend a couple of days in this magnificent city exploring the Weekend Market (10am-5pm) in the old part of the city called The Rocks. Or challenge yourself by joining a tour to climb the iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge. And then settle down in a café in front of the Opera House and perhaps enjoy a cocktail watching the sun set behind the bridge you just conquered!
Driving in the city is easy. All modern rentals come with a very easy-to-programme GPS navigational unit. Just type in where you want to go and — presto! — the nice lady in the GPS will guide you there.
Down the coast
Head south and out of Sydney’s seemingly neverending suburbs and join the scenic Grand Pacific Drive (www.grandpacificdrive.com.au). The interstate road that winds along the beautiful NSW coast south of Sydney is the Princes Highway, which goes all the way to Melbourne in Victoria state. But the most scenic part has been dubbed and duly signposted as the Grand Pacific Drive. Simply by following the signs, you’ll be taken to all that is worth seeing along the stunning coastline. And there is lots to see.
Just an hour into your journey is the animal encounter at Symbio Wildlife Park. You won’t get any closer to Australia’s native wildlife. Cuddle koalas, see wombats up close and hand feed the kangaroos as some of Australia’s beautiful wildlife joins you on your tour in natural bushland.
Small towns along the way have some great little shops worth exploring. - TOURISM AUSTRALIA & ERIK FEARN
Another half hour along the often precipitous drops into the ocean to your left, lies Wollongong, the third largest city in NSW. Strikingly tucked between the mountains and the sea, Wollongong is home to arguably the prettiest harbour in the whole state. Park the car and join locals for a stroll along the splendid harbour. Buy a take-away lunch of fresh fish and chips and enjoy a picnic in the park at the base of the ivory white lighthouse with the deep blue sea and seagulls as the backdrop.
As you continue your journey south, you enter the gently undulating cattle and winery country of Shoalhaven. The jewel in the crown of the entire NSW coast is the remarkable Jervis Bay, home to migrating whales, resident dolphins, a huge national park run by the local aborigines, as well as the Hyams Beach, reputed to have the whitest sand in the world.
Stay the night in any of several boutique B&Bs around the bay. Start the next day on a three-hour whale and dolphin cruise. Dolphin Watch Cruises (www.dolphinwatch.com.au) are the biggest operators here and have an impressive record of being able to show visitors whales or dolphins, or both, on 95% of their outings.
On to charming Canberra
After another leisurely day of cruising along the coast, leave the Grand Pacific Drive at Batmans Bay and head inland and upland along the Kings Highway to Canberra. Being at a slightly higher altitude and inland from the coast, the weather is cool and fresh for much of the year except for mid-summer.
Canberra, the planned capital of Australia, has, in the past, lived with the reputation of perhaps being a bit quiet, boring even. It’s still quiet but certainly far from boring! With huge shopping centres, a vibrant cultural and party scene, as well as universities and the world’s diplomatic corps, Canberra has much of the vibrancy of Sydney or Melbourne, but without the traffic, pollution, overdevelopment and frenetic pace of its bigger cousins.
Climb the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. - TOURISM AUSTRALIA & ERIK FEARN
Start the next morning with a hot air balloon tour and see Canberra city from above (www.balloonaloft.com). Not cheap at about RM800 per person, but the way to rationalise it is that it’s a once in a lifetime experience.
Visit the amazing museums or tour the Parliament Building. For lunch, adjourn to the nearby Pialligo winery for some wine tastings and a bite to eat.
The afternoon can be spent shopping, strolling around Lake Burleigh Griffin, the centre-piece of the city, or, if you’re game, go to the National Zoo & Aquarium where you can actually feed wild tigers and pet dingos and snakes!
If you’re hankering for some Asian food tonight, try the beef rendang at Abell’s Kopi Tiam in the suburb of Manuka. Sedap!
From Canberra, you can either head back, via the Federal Highway, to Sydney just 3½ hours north-east. Or, better still, continue your adventure into the gorgeous Snowy Mountains, just 2½ hours to the west (see: Explore Australia’s high country).
So pack your bags and get ready to experience the drive of your life. With a good mix of coastal scenery, urban landscapes, awe-inspiring mountains and quaint towns, an Australian road trip is a kind of promise. The promise of an extraordinary adventure.
Road trip checklist
Plan itinerary and driving route.
Check the weather and season.
Get visa online and check passport validity.
Book your flight.
Book your rental car and arrange for pick-up.
Buy travel insurance
. FURTHER INFO
This site is very useful in finding any self-drive related information plus downloadable itineraries and brochures: www.australianroadtrips.com
Go well prepared on any holiday and you’re bound to get more out of it. Here’s a good place to self-educate before you self-drive: www.australia.com
For the best deals to Australia from Malaysia direct, check with MAS and AirAsia X: www.malaysiaairlines.com OR www.airasia.com
Check with MSL Travel for fantastic Self Drive Holiday Packages
|26 Oct 2009|
Every road trip should have a destination as a sort of reward, and the perfect destination for this easy self-drive is the Australian Alps — the roof of Australia. It’s perfect in that it is the exact opposite of the sub-tropical beaches you have been exploring these last few days.
Now it’s time to park the car and explore this exotic alpine high country by foot, bike, horse, canoe or skis!
When most people think of Australia, they imagine a flat, red, dry continent, beaches and cities hugging the coast. But Australia has a significant and untamed high country which nixes all of those cliches.
The Australian Alps, also known as the Snowy Mountain Ranges, stretch for nearly 400km from the nation’s capital, Canberra, through southern New South Wales and along the Great Divide in eastern Victoria. Here lie more than 1.5 million hectares of rocky landscape where a chain of national parks, protected areas and alpine environments provide a habitat for hundreds of species of plant and animal life found nowhere else on earth.
Of these, the huge Kosciuszko National Park is by far the most diverse and popular. The park is named after Australia’s highest mountain, the 2,228m Mt Kosciuszko, or just “Kozzy”, as the locals call it. Australians in the know will tell you that the hiking trails around the park and to its summit are among the state’s finest summer bushwalks.
Like Australia’s wildlife, its Alps are unique. This is a powerful and dramatic landscape. But rather than craggy pointed peaks created by continental collisions like most of the world’s mountains, these mountains are the remnant of a huge rift that formed when New Zealand peeled away from Australia nearly 100 million years ago.
During the warmer months, this is fantastic, uncrowded hiking country. The granite flanks of these mountains are covered by wildflower meadows, sometimes interspersed with patches of summer snow. Add hills rippling with tussock grass, alpine lakes, twisted snow gums and gurgling streams and it’s a version of the great outdoors that’s hard to resist.
The most popular of all the national park’s walking trails is the hike to the 2,228m summit of Mt Kosciuszko.
The easiest way is via the Crackenback Chairlift from Thredbo Village, from where it’s a moderate two-hour walk over a well-formed track to the summit.
At the foot of the Snowy Mountains lies picturesque Lake Jyndabine. Besides hiking in summer, the area is a playground for rafting, canoeing, horse riding and mountain biking adventures.
But to most Australians (and an increasing number of Asians) the lure of the Snowy Mountains remains the snow. Every winter (June-October), up to 4m of the fluffy white stuff turns these attractive mountains into a winter wonderland.
Of the several resorts that dot the Australian Alps, arguably the most diverse, accessible and attractive is Perisher (www.perisher.com.au). Perisher covers several mountain tops with dozens of runs catering to skiiers of every level. In fact, it is the biggest ski resort in the southern hemisphere. If you are a beginner, there are daily courses to get you on your feet and start having fun. Gear can be rented right in the resort. (Actually there are four connected resorts, the main one is the luxurious Perisher Valley Hotel).
Apart from being family-friendly with all-inclusive packages available for every budget, their coolest feature is that their resort sits right at the foot of the ski slopes. So when you want to go skiing, you literally step out of the hotel and can be on a chairlift heading for fun within two minutes!
I have travelled far and wide in Australia over many years now, and while each attraction is unique, I’m surprised that more visitors to Australia haven’t discovered the jaw-dropping beauty of the Snowy Mountains. A fluffy white heaven just three hours from Canberra, six hours from Sydney and two hours from the beaches, this place has quickly become my favourite place Down Under.
For more information visit www.environment.nsw.gov.au/NationalParks
Check with MSL Travel for great self-drive holidays
|Malaysia faces many challenges in the coming years in the run-up to Vision 2020, it would come as no surprise that an issue like education is lost in all the political commotion and in light of more pressing issues like corruption.|
I think politicians have to wake up to the fact that our public education system needs to be improved. Thus far, the Government has been taking a “if it ain’t broke why fix it” approach to the matter.
I applaud the increased Government expenditure on education infrastructure, but it seems like yet another case of the notorious tagline attached to our country - “first world infrastructure, third world mentality”.
The Government seems to be under the impression that education can be improved by throwing money at it. What it doesn’t see is that we need to invest in our educationists.
I have great admiration for anyone who devotes his or her life to teaching. It is an extremely respectable profession.
As such, we need to ease the burden on them. Poor wages deter them from wanting to teach in schools. Very often, teachers in our schools are not so much people who love teaching but rather people who can’t find jobs elsewhere and end up in schools as a matter of circumstances.
As a result, we have English teachers who barely speak English and Geography teachers who don’t know the fundamental issues regarding Geography.
We could learn a thing or two from Singapore. Our neighbour offers complete scholarships for anyone in college opting to become teachers. They are well paid and are often given exposure overseas.
In Singapore, students compete intensely to secure places in public institutions of higher education.
In Malaysia, the best students pay their way through private education because they have lost faith in the public system.
We have to come to terms with the fact that the teaching of proper English in our schools is a must if we wish to remain competitive at the global level.
While I agree that Bahasa Malaysia is essential to our national identity, we must not ignore English. I do not believe that teaching Science and Mathematics in English is sufficient as these subjects hardly require the use of proper English. Students can easily get by without having to string a proper sentence together.
Finally, we must not spoon-feed our children and expect them to regurgitate the facts. This is not what education is all about. They must be allowed to think for themselves.
I currently study in the United Kingdom and my university is culturally diverse. Despite having so many people from all over the world, it is not difficult to spot a Malaysian in my seminar groups.
They are the ones without an opinion. They are so used to being spoon-fed that they cannot adapt and or think for themselves.
We need intelligent, outspoken people who can think outside the box to power our country forward so that it remains competitive with the advanced nations.
I love my country and it pains me to see young minds with so much potential being squandered. It is my hope that the new Education Minister will take note of the urgent need for change.
|The Malaysian Transport System is the result of years of political abuse lacking the one thing all Malaysians want:|
AN EFFICIENT PUBLIC TRANSPORT SYSTEM
Taxi drivers are calling for a fare restructure, saying that the rates have not increased from the RM2 flag fare for more than 12 years.
Yet many taxi drivers, especially those who rent from taxi companies, need to pay about RM50 for rental and RM20 for natural gas each working day.
This does not take into account the vehicle’s maintenance cost and the drivers’ daily expenses.
It is learnt that the daily income of most taxi drivers totals an average of RM75 for about 12 hours of work.
The result? Ninety-eight per cent of taxi drivers – checked in a two-week Road Transport Department (JPJ) operation – flout the rules such as not using the meter and overcharging.
The biggest offence of all is refusing to pick up a paying passenger.
The Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board chief, Datuk Markiman Kobiran, even admitted in a recent press conference that it was running out of solutions to bring “rogue” taxi drivers to heel.
In fact, he likened the situation to a “war with no end like the war between the Israelis and the Palestinians”.
Markiman also said that a proposal had been sent to the Cabinet to review the fare structure of not just the taxi but also of rental cars, mini buses, stage coaches and express buses.
“We have not decided on anything. After extensive studies, we have submitted a paper to the Cabinet,” was all he could say when contacted on Thursday.
JPJ director-general Datuk Solah Mat Hassan said nothing less than a complete overhaul of the taxi system would solve the problem of the worsening quality of taxi services.
“The Government has got to overhaul the system to raise the standards (of taxi service),” he told The Star recently.
Solah said everything from the traffic flow system, locations of taxi stands and drivers’ ethics had to be reviewed.
In the meantime, Solah said taxi companies had to take self-regulation more seriously.
“Do you wait until the health enforcement officers come and tell you to close shop before you wash your shop? Of course not. This is my point,” he said.
“Owner-operators and cab companies should have stringent measures to vet their drivers. They should look at the background of the driver. You hired the fellow, you must make sure that he behaves.”
As for the individual permit holders, Solah said they could take different jobs if they felt being a taxi driver was too difficult to earn a living.
“And if you’re part-time, have you gotten permission from your employer to take on another job?” he said.
“If they still can’t earn a living, why not do other jobs? Did someone force them? Is it really true that you cannot earn a living?”
Responding to a suggestion that JPJ place more officers in taxi “hotspots” where most of the offences are being committed, Solah said they could only effectively watch over 30% of the drivers.
Furthermore, he pointed out that it was unrealistic for JPJ officers to ask every taxi driver whether they were using the meter.
“The driver would just tell his passenger that there was a JPJ officer earlier and promptly change the charged fare. This will make things worse,” he said.
Solah also revealed that the JPJ had only 650 enforcement officers to watch over Klang Valley’s 25,000 taxis and their drivers, not to mention the heavy vehicles, private vehicles and buses.
|I WAS one of the lucky students who benefited from the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English. Now that I am doing a pre-university course at a private college, I realise how useful English has been for me as all my text books and reference books are in the language.|
One of my college seniors who had studied in a local school before the policy change described his first year in college as “miserable” as he was unable to grasp all that was said during his lectures which were conducted in English.
Many in his batch and those before, had said that it was “an ordeal” to remember and spell scientific terms like “photosynthesis” in English.
It was during these times that the students wished they were fluent in English.
I strongly feel that we should not take a step backward and have a situation where students have to start looking at the Internet, or poring over the dictionary to check the meaning of basic English terms and phrases.
Look at our public universities today. They are nowhere near the standard they were in nearly three decades ago. None of our universities are ranked in the world’s top 200, and this is a far cry compared to neighbouring Singapore, and the rest of Asia where the standard is much higher.
The low English proficiency among university undergraduates is perhaps one of the reasons why Malaysian universities don’t excel as well as the others in the region.
The students are unable to learn and apply new concepts and theories with their limited vocabulary which has an effect on a university’s overall performance. More worrying is the high rate of unemployment among fresh graduates.
Under such circumstances, would it not be better for Education Ministry officials to stick to the current policy? While there are complaints about teaching methods, further training can be given to the teachers to hone their skills.
We should also move forward by doing away with bilingual question papers for both Maths and Science during major examinations as teachers and students will then have no choice but to use only English.
While positive results may not come immediately, we would surely reach the desired level of proficiency in time to come.
To the nay-sayers of the current policy, please wake up and accept this change. We should not have an education system that will only create jaguh kampung (village champions) who will be afraid to embrace the challenges of a competitive world.
And to those who feel the survival of the mother tongue is a major concern, then emphasise the teaching of these languages to every individual as a separate subject in schools. It is not a wise move to stop the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English.
|PUTRAJAYA: University students must be given more freedom to enable them to play a constructive role in society.|
Universiti Malaya (UM) Student Representative Council president Afandy Sutrisno Tanjung said this was among the issues raised by student leaders at their closed-door dialogue with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Thursday.
?We want the Government to consider our views when amending the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA) 1971,
?It is very restrictive as we are not even allowed to get involved in non-governmental organisations now,? he told a press conference.
The student leaders want Sections 15A, 15B, 15C, and 15D, 16B (1), 16B (2) and 16B (3), 16C and 51(1) to be reviewed.
The student leaders from 19 public universities later presented a memorandum on their demands to Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin.
Besides UUCA, they also asked that the administrative fee collected by the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) be reviewed and that the ceiling for loan amounts are increased.
?We want a decision on the administrative charge to be made by the National Fatwa Council to determine whether it is Islamic or not. We would prefer that Islamic banking principles be used when disbursing loans,? said Afandy.
The students also called on the Government to provide free, high-width broadband access at all public university campuses.
?We are also asking that public university campuses be declared ?low price zones?. Sometimes the food sold on campus is more expensive than what is available outside,? added Afandy.
|IN Malaysia, as in most countries, many foreign students have to work part-time to make ends meet. |
The problem is that the law only allows them to work during their semester break.
Immigration Department enforcement director Datuk Ishak Mohammad said foreign students could only work in four sectors - kiosks, restaurants, petrol pumps and in non-frontline hotel jobs.
"They cannot work more than 20 hours a week and can only work during their semester breaks.
"They must also get our approval via their college."
A Nigerian student, who only wanted to be known as King, said many foreign students worked part-time in order to survive.
"It is really difficult to survive without any income here as most foreign students come from countries with a lower currency exchange rate.
"We need the extra money as our families cannot fully support us.
"The government should allow students to work for an hour or two a day to earn some pocket money."
However, King condemned those who misused students visas to work full-time or commit crime.
"The government must come down hard on these people," said the 24-year-old computer science student.
Another foreign student, who declined to be named, said giving out visas to those not planning to study was a normal practice in many institutions.
"It's like a business for many colleges, especially those who don't have a good reputation academically.
"They offer programmes from obscure overseas universities and charge students the full fees.
"When students don't turn up for classes, they just cover up the attendance records," he said.
|PETALING JAYA: A total of 40,222 or 47.79% of all candidates achieved Band Three or higher in the Malaysian University English Test (MUET). |
According to a statement from the Malaysian Examinations Council, 37 obtained Band Six, 1,424 Band Five, 9,702 Band Four, 29,059 Band Three, 32,656 Band Two and 11,271 Band One.
A total of 84,149 candidates sat for the test.
MUET, which tests listening, speaking, reading and writing, classifies candidates according to six bands or levels of achievement, from Very Good User (Band Six) to Extremely Limited User (Band One).
Those wishing to retake the test can register at their respective state education departments or district education offices by Jan 30.
|KUALA LUMPUR: Many Malaysians speak more than one language, and there is real benefit in learning another ? especially in this increasingly globalised world. |
Lim Sep Neo, a part-time lecturer at Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (Utar), explains some advantages of learning French.
?Malaysia has a lot of relations with French-speaking nations such as the African countries of Chad, Senegal and Algeria.
Lim Sep Neo
?We have people coming from these countries to do business or work at government missions, and we need people who speak French to deal with them.?
It is even more relevant if the country wants to promote itself further as a tourist destination.
She said if there were more locals learning foreign languages, tourists would be drawn to the country and the economy could grow even more. ?Tourism brings big money,? added Lim.
Additionally, those who learn French may find their English improving as well.
?There are many words in the English language that are derived directly from French such as fait accompli and esprit de corps.?
Those learning French will then not only learn the proper pronunciation of these phrases, but have a better understanding of its meaning as well.
Another benefit of learning French is the literary world it opens.
?France has a great tradition of literary works. You can read the works in their original language instead of the English translations, which tend to dilute the essence of the story,? said Lim.
She added that there was no reason to be intimidated by French language classes.
?We also learn by singing French songs and watching French movies, which makes the whole experience very enjoyable.?
Lim has 20 years of experience in education and is proficient in French, English and Bahasa Malaysia.
Conducting lessons in the Korean language is her colleague Jane Teoh, who has travelled extensively in Korea since 1999.
The beginner-level classes for both Korean and French languages is 30 hours over 15 weeks at the Centre for Extension Education, Utar. The course fee is RM400.
Korean language classes begin on Feb 20, and French classes on Feb 22.
For more information, contact Utar at 03-7357-2818/03-7955-5181 or e-mail your enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.utar.com.my.
|A fascinating mix of age-old traditions and modern vibrancy, France is also a place with exciting educational options. |
TO SAY that food is a passion in France will be stating the obvious. Escargots, wines and the famed Brie and Roquefort cheeses are just a few of the items on offer to tantalise the taste buds. Cafes are as ubiquitous as litter is not and with the number of Michelin star restaurants spread across the country, one is assured of gastronomic indulgence.
And Paris has the distinction of being one of the world's fashion capitals and is the base for big names such as Yves Saint Laurent, Hermes, Givenchy and Dior.
Haute cuisine and couture aside, France also has a long tradition in scholarship, giving the world thinkers like Jean Jacques Rousseau and Jean-Paul Sartre. Moreover, French used to be the language of European high society, commonly used in the royal courts up to the 19th century.
It should therefore come as no surprise that France is among today's global leaders in education.
With an estimated 265,000 foreign students, it is only behind the United States and Britain in international student figures and offers a considerable breadth of programmes.
The system in France
The French university curriculum system sees students obtaining a Licence, the equivalent of a basic degree in three years, a Master in another two years and a Doctorat after a total of eight years of study.
France has a total of 3,000-plus institutions of higher learning that include 240 engineering schools and 230 business schools. Around 2,000 of the total are devoted to the niche fields of art, fashion, design and architecture.
There are also 87 public universities, ranging from the venerable Sorbonne in Paris, which dates back to 1179, to the high-tech Nice-Sophia-Antipolis, founded in 1965.
Research is an integral feature in the university system, covering the entire range of academic disciplines and involving more than 300 doctoral programmes and over 1,200 research centres and laboratories.
French doctoral programmes have always held international appeal and the number of foreign doctoral candidates have been on the rise, going up by 7.5% between 1999 and 2004.
Also, there are uniquely French institutions known as the grandes ?coles (specialised schools of higher education). Created in the early 19th century, the elite grandes ?coles are extremely selective and offer education of a very high standard.
Unlike the public universities, which are obliged to accept all candidates who hold a Baccalaureate, grandes ?coles consider applicants solely on the results of competitive oral and written exams.
There are 226 grandes ?coles in France and students who sit for the admission tests often undergo preparatory school, often for two years.
?Normally, 90 to 95% of grandes ?coles students come from preparatory schools while the remainder come from various instituts universitaires de technologie (IUT), known in English as university institutes of technology,? says Universiti Teknologi Petronas lecturer-cum-researcher Dr Mohamad Naufal Mohamad Saad, who studied in France from 1995 to 2005.
Dr Mohd Naufal studied first at IUT de Colmar and later at Ecole Nationale Sup?rieure d'Ing?nieurs de Limoges (National Higher School of Engineers of Limoges).
?Chances of being accepted through the IUT route are slim and I was very fortunate to be accepted,? he admits.
Specialising in a single subject area, mainly in the humanities, business and engineering, grandes ?coles are moderate in size with student populations of 2,000 to 3,000.
All students in France's public institutions, both foreign and local alike, are beneficiaries of a generous amount of government aid that sees them paying a mere ?160 (RM780) to ?500 (RM2,440) per year for tuition when the actual fees are an estimated ?6,000 (RM29,240) to ?15,000 (RM73,100).
Cost of living in France is around ?800 (RM3,890) to ?1,000 (RM4,870) per month, going up to some ?1,200 (RM5,840) in Paris.
This makes France one of the least expensive countries in Europe for international students, who enjoy other benefits such as low-cost dining facilities, student housing, and discounts on transportation and cultural events.
However, bear in mind that the private grandes ?coles charge a high tuition that can cost ?4,000 (RM19,500) to ?10,000 (RM48,730) and beyond.
Apart from business and engineering courses, France is also noted for social science programmes that expose students to the different schools of thought.
A notable institution is the Sciences Po in Paris that is a partner of the Global Public Policy Network together with Columbia University in the United States, the London School of Economics and Political Science and the National University of Singapore.
Agricultural studies are also becoming increasingly popular and France also has some 2,000 schools devoted to the niche fields of art, fashion, design and architecture.
Another interesting feature of French education is the presence of its many ?competitiveness clusters?, a system that sees different regions specialising in various fields of study.
?Each province has its own distinctive academic specialisation,? says Malaysia-France University Centre project coordinator Simon Cordonnier.
?For example, Burgundy specialises in nuclear industries, Brittany in marine biology due to its coastal proximity, Toulouse in aeronautical engineering as the Airbus headquarters and main factory are there, and the Agropolis in Montpellier in agricultural studies.?
It can be tough
There are, says Cordonnier, currently about 500 Malaysian students in France, with some 300 sponsored by the Public Service Department and other government agencies.
Given France's reputation in engineering, most of the Malaysians there are furthering their studies in this field.
Being thousands of miles away from home in a foreign land can be daunting and Malaysians ? and Asians in general ? often have quite a lot of adapting to do, both academically and culturally.
?French education stresses a lot on application,? continues Cordonnier. ?Taking maths as an example, the way to get to the result is more important than the result itself.?
The French emphasis on application, an unfamiliar approach for many Asian students, is aimed at moulding graduates who think critically at both the theoretical and practical levels.
There is also the question of studying in a language that is quite foreign to most Malaysians.
According to Cordonnier, Malaysian students often need to undergo one year of intensive French classes to reach a proficiency level acceptable at university.
?Language is still an obstacle. Efforts are being made to address this and there are some programmes in English at French institutions as well,? he says.
Demands of the classroom aside, there are also the countless stories of how unfriendly your average Frenchman can be to those who do not speak his lingo.
Dr Mohamad Naufal, however, has a different take on this, citing a rather comical episode from those days when he was still a greenhorn in the language,
?I was behind an Asian couple who were asking a Metro personnel some questions in English but he answered them in French. Although my French was not good at the time, I managed to form a question and to my surprise and the couple's annoyance, the Frenchman answered me in fluent English,? he recalls.
?The French people are not unfriendly, but they are definitely proud of their language and appreciate it if you make an effort.?
But there are rewards
It is the home of breathtaking architectural styles reflected in the likes the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame Cathedral and Louvre Museum, which also houses iconic artworks such as Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa.
For football fans, there is of course the Stade de France, the venue of French football's finest moment ? the 3-0 win over Brazil in the 1998 World Cup Final.
And if what France has on offer is not quite enough, the country is right next to nine others, namely Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Britain, Monaco and Andorra, so travel options during the summers are aplenty.
?I had a great experience in France mixing with the locals, and my 10 years there can be summarised as a great adventure,? enthused Dr Mohamad Naufal.
For more information, contact the Malaysia-France University Centre at 03-27315880 or e-mail: email@example.com or go to its website at www.mfuc.org.
MSL Travel has student fares to France
|KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians have more options to study medicine abroad with three Polish universities gaining accreditation here for their medical degree programmes. |
The institutions are the Medical University of Warsaw, Medical University of Lodz, and Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow.
A Higher Education Ministry team visited Poland in 2005 to vet the country?s medical programmes.
Polish Ambassador Eugeniusz Sawicki said ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Zulkefli A. Hassan relayed the news to him when they met with Polish education officials who were here for the recent European Higher Education Fair.
The Public Services Department, in a letter to the envoy, confirmed that minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed had made the decision in a meeting on Aug 9.
?It?s a breakthrough for us as this is the first time Poland?s medical programmes are recognised by Malaysia.
?The cost of pursuing a medical degree in Poland is much lower compared to other European countries.
?For example, you pay ?12,000 euros (RM60,000) a year in Poland, compared to about ?30,000 (RM150,000) in Britain,? the envoy said in an interview.
Sawicki, who has been working hard to promote bilateral educational co-operation, is feeling optimistic in tapping his country?s developing education market from here.
Last week, he sent off the first private Malaysian student to pursue medicine at the Medical University of Warsaw. Thirty government-sponsored students will enrol at the university later. The medical course is conducted in English.
The envoy said education networking between Poland and Malaysia was gaining further strides with co-operation extended to the technical field as well.
Four UiTM Skudai students will study Optics in Science and Technology at the Warsaw University of Technology under a technical co-operation programme.
|THE House has approved the Carriage by Air (Amendment) Bill 2007 to enable the country to be a part of the 1999 Montreal Convention which provides for higher compensation and benefits to passengers such as claims for flight delays. |
Compensation for lost luggage, flight delays and cancellations were among the concerns raised by MPs during the debate on the Bill.
Once enforced, passengers can claim for higher compensation such as RM5,000 for mishandled or missing baggage and RM20,000 for flight delays, which were previously not allocated under the Warsaw Convention, said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar.
Tengku Azlan said the Bill also covered compensation for missing baggage at KL Sentral.
He said Malaysia currently practised the international carriage by air liability system based on the 1929 Warsaw Convention, which limits the amount of claims.
The Bill was amended following the government?s decision to join the Montreal Convention (Convention for the Unification of Certain Rules for International Carriage by Air) and the related Protocols, which would supercede the Warsaw Convention.
?The Warsaw Convention is no longer in tune with the current economic and legal needs. Its system of having a low liability rate had caused injustice to air passengers especially when there is a crash, damage or loss to luggage or cargo caused by delays or mishandling by air carriers.
?For example, the compensation would be given based on the weight of the luggage or missing items and not on the value of those items,? he said when explaining the Bill.
Currently, the Warsaw Convention states that passengers could claim RM48 per kg for mishandled check-in baggage and RM980 for mishandled cabin baggage, he added.
Among the new things introduced by the Montreal Convention was the introduction of reservation facilities via the Internet and electronic systems, abolition of arbitrary liability limits and imposing strict liability for cases involving death or physical injuries.
Under the Warsaw Convention, compensation for death or injury was limited to RM48,000, which was arbitrary but the Montreal Convention states a figure of RM500,000, he said.
Tengku Azlan said low-budget airlines were also subjected to giving out compensation, and passengers need to declare their baggage items before boarding the plane to facilitate compensation claims.
Several MPs including Datuk Razali Ismail (BN-Kuala Terengganu) and Chow Kon Yeow (DAP-Tanjong) highlighted the fact that cases of missing baggage were on the rise.
?We have to ensure that baggage don?t go missing especially in KLIA where syndicates are at work as this can affect the country?s image,? said Chow.
|FANCY studying in Saudi Arabia? Well, you may get the chance sooner than you think. |
For decades, Malaysians have gone over to study religion and Islamic sciences at schools and universities in Saudi Arabia. Lately, however, new opportunities have emerged due to the country?s impressive technological and economic growth, as well as expansion in higher education.
A few students will definitely get the opportunity soon to pursue postgraduate studies at Saudi?s oldest and biggest university, King Saud University (KSU), in an area of their choice.
This golden chance is the result of an offer of 22 postgraduate scholarships for masters, PhD and post-doctoral research made to Malaysian Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed during his visit to KSU last month.
?The university made the offer on the spot. It was a pleasant surprise. The offer demonstrates their confidence in our higher education system, and reflects the commitment of both countries to fostering educational partnerships,? says Mustapa.
KSU, or Riyadh University as it was originally known, was established in 1957 as the first Saudi university not dedicated to religious subjects.
It started with the setting up of the College of Arts, followed by the College of Science the following year. Other colleges followed soon after ? from the College of Engineering and Business to Medicine and Information Technology.
Currently, there are more than 25 colleges covering diverse disciplines including community service, nutrition science, archaeology and tourism.
In the early 1980s, a new campus was built, and KSU opened its doors to female students as the original university buildings in central Riyadh were converted into a campus for the women's branch of the university.
Today, women are only barred from KSU?s engineering programme, on the premise that a profession in engineering would be impossible to pursue in the context of sex-segregation practices.
Since the early 1990s, KSU has started offering postgraduate studies in 61 areas of specialisation, and doctorates in Arabic, geography, and history.
The scholarships offered to Malaysians, covering tuition fees and living expenses, comprise six each for masters and PhD, and 10 for post-doctoral research.
Mustapa says his ministry has been asked to nominate candidates by early this month, and selection has been in process.
The KSU scholarship scheme is expected to see greater exchange of students and academics, as well as research collaboration, between Saudi and Malaysian institutions.
There are currently 19 universities in Saudi, with four new ones set up in 2005 to meet the growing demand for higher education in the country.
The realisation of the need to develop its human resource has also led to the development of more colleges for girls in the country.
On his trip, Mustapa also visited the King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah and University Um Al Qura in Mekah, where he met with Malaysian students.
In terms of research collaboration, the minister feels that Malaysians need to open their minds to tap into emerging areas in Saudi Arabia such as technology and engineering.
There are opportunities aplenty, he stresses, particularly with the research centres set up by the Saudi Government at public universities, in areas like water studies, Islamic economics, technologies related to the discovery and economic utilisation of natural resources, Hajj and Umra studies (pilgrimage studies) as well as nanotechnology and biotechnology.
Another area is the exchange of expertise such as the one-year exchange stint awarded to International Islamic University Malaysia ICT Faculty dean Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Adam Suhami to teach and undergo practical work at Taibah University in Madinah.
In addition, the Saudi Government has agreed to send its science and mathematics teachers to Malaysia for training in the teaching of the two subjects in English
|CAIRO: The Higher Education Ministry will standardise its procedures to facilitate the sending of students to study medicine in Egypt. |
?Last September, 499 first-year students arrived in Egypt to study medicine at seven universities. This is our first big batch, so there are many logistical issues that need to be ironed out such as minimum entry qualifications, errant agents and housing,? said Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed who was on a week-long working trip to Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
Speaking to The Star after a dialogue with about 500 Malaysian students at the Malaysian Hall here on Monday, he said Malaysia has been sending students over to Egypt for religious studies for decades and has just started sponsoring students to take up the highly in demand, critical programme in the Northern African country because of its wide advantages.
?Studying medicine in Egypt is unique because students learn in English and use Arabic in the society so they can improve their proficiency in both. And for some universities like Al-Azhar University, they need to study and memorise the Quran too,? he added.
There are currently more than 640 public and private Malaysian students taking up medicine in the country.
Mustapa also had a special dialogue with 250 Malaysian medical students to get feedback on the problems they face such as their difficulty in the Arabic language and delay in the payment of fees which bar them from sitting for their exams.
To help address the problems, a committee that will be headed by the Malaysian Ambassador to Egypt and student leaders has been set up.
On the issue of errant education agents, Mustapa said he had met with the relevant sponsors in Malaysia and proposed a new system to avoid abuses.
Mustapa also signed a memorandum of understanding with the Egyptian Higher Education Minister Dr Amr Ezzat Salma to foster more exchanges in medicine between the two countries.
|PUTRAJAYA: Malaysian students wishing to pursue medical studies will soon have another option. |
The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), the main body responsible for evaluating and according recognition to foreign institutes, is expected to add Poland to its list of destinations for medical studies.
It is believed that the MMC has so far conducted two visits to three institutes in the country, the first in June last year and the last one as recently as a month ago.
The three institutes are the Medical University in Lodz, the Faculty of Medicine of University of Krakow and the Medical Academy of Warsaw.
However, it is said that only one of the three ? most probably, the Medical Academy of Warsaw ? would be accorded recognition this year while two others would have to wait.
Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, who is also MMC president, confirmed that the council would be according recognition to Poland?s medical degrees.
?We have visited the institutes in Poland and an approval is pending. Hopefully, it will be this year,? he said, but declined to name the institutes.
Recently, the Public Service Department had announced that it would be sending its scholars to Poland and the Czech Republic for this year?s medical study intake.
So far, Poland is not included in the list of countries under the Second Schedule of the Medical Act 1971, which currently has 333 recognised institutes in, among others, Egypt, Australia, Ireland, Russia and Indonesia.
Deputy Head of the Polish mission in Malaysia Slawomir Krakowski confirmed that the MMC had conducted visits to the three institutes mentioned.
?Our embassy has yet to receive the announcement of the Government?s final decision. But we do know there is already a first batch of students from Malaysia ready to pursue medical courses in Poland,? he said.
The three Czech Republic medical institutes recognised are the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague, the Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Hradec Kralove and the Faculty of Medicine, Palacky University, Olomouc.
Dr Ismail also confirmed that there were currently no universities in Romania recognised by the Government despite advertisements in newspapers.
|Recently, the Public Service Department had announced that it would be sending its scholars to the Czech Republic for this year?s medical study intake. |
The three Czech Republic medical institutes recognised are the First Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Prague, the Faculty of Medicine at Charles University in Hradec Kralove and the Faculty of Medicine, Palacky University, Olomouc.
The growing significance of youth tourism has been highlighted by the signing of an historic agreement between UNWTO and WYSE Travel Confederation.
From February 1st 2007, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and WYSE Travel Confederation will work in partnership to promote and develop the multi-billion dollar youth and student travel niche market.
"Youth tourism contributes to the development of young minds and international tolerance. The UNWTO has recognised the economic importance and social value of youth travel. Young travellers of today set travel trends for the future, they travel with a purpose and make a unique contribution to sustainable tourism practices and poverty alleviation" says David Jones, Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation. "We look forward to a fruitful partnership with UNWTO and to delivering this message to governments and industry worldwide??.
Throughout 2007 and beyond, the partnership agreement between WYSE Travel Confederation and UNWTO will provide Confederation Members with an unprecedented opportunity to make government leaders and tourism authorities around the world more aware of the importance of youth, student and educational travel.
This will be achieved by:
Compiling research and publishing a ?Youth Travel Compendium of Research? which includes data on the behaviour of youth travellers and the impact of youth travel experiences on attitudes and values, as well as a survey of youth and student tourism policy worldwide. This report will be used to encourage governments to actively support and market youth tourism products and services.
Organising seminars and events for government officials, national tourism authorities, educational specialists and commercial sector leaders to increase awareness of the importance of the youth and student travel niche market.
Promoting responsible travel habits, practices and the sustainable development of tourism.
Mr. Francesco Frangialli, Secretary General of UNWTO and David Jones, Director General of WYSE Travel Confederation signed the Co-operation Agreement on 1st February during the FITUR Travel Fair in Madrid, Spain.
For more information, please contact Stephanie Cooper, Communications Officer, WYSE Travel Confederation T: +31 20 4212800 firstname.lastname@example.org
|Bogus students |
40% OF `FOREIGN STUDENTS' ARE HERE TO WORK, SAYS HOME MINISTRY AND WANTS FAST, TOUGH ACTION
by R. Manirajan
PUTRAJAYA: A cabinet minister yesterday gave a shocking estimate of the extent that foreigners are abusing student visas to work here ? 40%.
If Home Minister Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad's estimate is anything to go by, it would mean that some 16,000 foreign students are fakes as the Higher Education Ministry had put their population at about 40,000.
Radzi said some of these students come with the sole intention to work as the immigration levy for students is only RM90. But if they come here to work, the levy is more than RM1,000.
The student visa offers a cheap way to get into Malaysia, and some college administrations are willing to join forces with syndicates bringing in foreign workers as they can earn commissions.
Radzi told a post-cabinet press conference:"I believe about 40% of the foreign students in private colleges are here not to study, but to work and some of the recruitment agencies which can and have brought in students in big numbers have tied up with the colleges." He, however, stressed that some of the private colleges are above board.
He highlighted an operation last week by the ministry on a private college in Kedah where they found 207 students registered in the college. Of these, only six were Malaysians, the rest being Pakistanis (151) and Bangladeshis (41). The rest were from India, Thailand, Indonesia, China and Nigeria.
The foreign students were registered for information system courses but never attended classes. They were working elsewhere, like selling carpets.
Radzi said the ministry is tracking down the students and had recommended to the Higher Education Ministry to shut down this college.
"I think the Higher Education Ministry should find a mechanism to monitor such colleges and close them down.
"In our overzealous ambition to be an education hub, we might have overlooked some of the loopholes, and I think the Higher Education Ministry needs to take immediate action against such colleges; in fact quick action." Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed had on Sept 18 said it had withdrawn approval to four private colleges to admit foreign students after they were found to have brought in workers. The decision followed an audit of 182 private institutes of higher learning between April and Sept 15.
|HEADING off to a new country can be intimidating ? especially if you are braving it on your own. |
Not only do you have to deal with a lot of red tape and procedures, there are also new friends to make and different cultures and lifestyles to adjust to.
As the ?season? for students to fly off to the United Kingdom and the United States to pursue their studies approaches again, there is the usual confusion about what to do and when to do it.
However, a little research and preparation can go a long way towards making the situation more manageable and pleasant.
It also helps to speak to experienced students and advisors to get practical tips on what to expect.
The first, and possibly most important, thing to sort out and get in order will be the official documents. After that comes the student visa.
Students check carefully on the type of documents needed and to take along both the originals as well as photocopies of documents when they apply for visas.
?The UK, for example, can be very strict when it comes to the issue of funding for studies. Students have to show proof that they have sufficient funds for the entire term of study. The FUNDS must have a legitimate source. Failing to explain where the funds come from can have your visa application being turned down.
Students should buy TRAVELLERS CHEQUES and carry only sufficient cash to tide them over for the first few weeks. BANK DRAFTS take time to clear .. unless you take bank drafts from the same bank - the one in Malaysia and the one in UK as the clearing period will be shorter.
Medical check-ups are usually part of the visa application process too. Although it is not compulsory to get a check-up when applying for visas. MSL ADVISE STUDENTS TO GET THEIR MEDICAL DONE AS IT IS FOR YOUR OWN GOOD before embarking for your studies abroad.
?The immigration in UK might conduct random medical checks, and if you are not carrying your health report with you, you may need to waste time, taking the tests there.?
Students should also undergo dental and eye examinations here, as these are very expensive abroad.
Students going to the UK carry their bank drafts with them, in case they are asked to produce evidence of their ability to pay the fees. All students should also carry their university admission letters.
Travelling to your Destination
Next comes the matter of actually getting to the university.
Students should scout around for flights that suit their itinerary and destinations. Visit MSL Travel Sdn Bhd offices in Kuala Lumpur & Penang as they have negotiated student fares on quality airlines.
?For example, Malaysia Airlines does not fly to Manchester, so many students fly into London and request for university transportation from there. This can be really expensive. It might be advisable to fly to Amsterdam, Dubai etc. where you can take a flight straight to Manchester."
Students should also make arrangements with their universities for airport pick-ups in advance, and provide them with accurate arrival information.
Settling in ... participate in the Orientation Program
Orientation programmes organised by the university are the best way to familiarise oneself quickly with the ins and outs of student life on campus.
These programmes help international students make friends more quickly and adapt to the new environment.
All students who studied in the US and UK agree that Malaysians need to speak up and be independent, both in and out of class.
?Active participation can contribute up to 20% of your grades, so you really do need to speak up in class.?
?Get over being shy or else, opportunities will pass you by. Americans value your ability to say what you think.?
Cornell University (US) graduate stresses that students also need to work independently.
?You have to take the initiative and be responsible for your own learning because the lecturers will not chase after you for your work. It?s entirely up to you how you study and whether you complete assignments.?
Students should not expect ?tips? from their lecturers but should instead cultivate a professional relationship with open communication.
Be open to new experiences
One good way to assimilate into student life is to participate in lots of campus activities and events.
?Make a point of joining societies that interest you, and remember to socialise outside the Malaysian circle,? says University of Bristol, UK, student. ?Getting a part-time job, especially in your first year, is also a good idea, as you usually have a lot of free time then.?
Learn about all the resources available at your university, advises student studies at the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor in the US.
?There are many avenues where you can seek assistance, such as the international students? centre, course advisors, student counsellors, professional bodies and so on. It?s surprising how much help and information is available.?
?Take any subject that interests you. Don?t limit yourself to only your required units.? ?Basically, you should take advantage of all the opportunities available.?
Studying abroad? Here are some more tips...
#Winter clothes from Malaysia are often not suitable for the winters in the US and UK. Just buy one or two here and the rest when you get there (factory outlet stores are a good, budget-friendly option).
#Choose hardy luggage that is easy to transport.
#Clothing and toiletries should be kept to a minimum. Most items can be obtained there. Clothes are especially cheap during sales.
#Students get free medical coverage in the UK only if your course/studies are more than 6 months. This is only at PUBLIC hospitals. If you want immediate attention & care get an Overseas Students Insurance Cover
#A handphone is not strictly necessary, as there are many plans you can sign up for that come with free phones.
#There are many Asian food stores around, so do not bring food unless it is something you cannot live without.
#If purchasing a laptop, ensure it comes with an international warranty.
#Comfortable walking shoes may be helpful as university students typically do a lot of walking. A good umbrella will be useful too.
#Bring copies of important documents and passport-sized photos.
Living on a budget:
# Do not for your ISIC - International Student Identity Card for your student benefits worldwide. The ISIC is available at MSL Travel
#Buy transportation tickets for getting to your university from the airport in advance, online if possible. You might get some good deals. MSL sells the NX2 Card which offers up to 30% discounts for travel on National Express coach services in Britain.
#Buy stationery in Malaysia as it is much cheaper.
#Purchase international editions of your textbooks here if possible, as they are cheaper. You can also buy them second-hand from your seniors.
#Scout around for phonecards that let you make cheap calls home. www.phonecardsforsale.com allows students studying in the US to buy cards cheaply. Your ISIC is also a phone card offering LOW COST phone calls with ISIConnect
#If travelling within the country, look out for deals and packages online.
#Familiarise yourself with the local public transport system. And if you can walk to a destination, do so.
#Look at the university noticeboard for second-hand items (books, electrical appliances) that you can purchase.
Look out for:
#Inadvertent racist or sexist remarks. They are very much frowned upon in the US and UK.
#Credit card trap. It is easy to swipe your card without realising how low your funds are getting.
#Alcohol. The legal drinking age in the US is 21. Also, drinking is a common social activity in both countries, so exercise self-control, and decline if you are not comfortable.
#Dodgy accommodation. If you are living off-campus, do sufficient research before deciding to stay somewhere.
ALWAYS STAY SOME WHERE WHERE YOU ARE SAFE & COMFORTABLE
#Contracts. When signing up for plans or deals (handphone call plans, accommodation, etc) make sure you read the fine print. You don?t want to end up losing money instead of saving.
#Being on time is expected; functions and events do not follow the ?Malaysian time? concept.
Travel tickets from MSL Travel
University admission letter
Bank drafts in your name (especially for UK students) and sufficient cash for at least one week
Medical report (especially for UK students)
An extra set of clothing in your hand luggage
Contact information for your university (not in your check-in luggage)
Visit the MSL Travel Website:
MSL Travel offers great student fares for students travelling for education. MSL student fares come with additional baggage allowance.
|IT IS your first day in a foreign land. You are not too sure where to go, what to eat or which bus route to take. You pull out your glossy little Lonely Planet guidebooks and curse yourself for not trawling through more of these before flying halfway across the globe. |
Of late, more and more young people are taking up the option of studying abroad as exchange students, eager to take on the role of globetrotting scholars.
Now, being an exchange student can be very exciting and an important highlight in one?s academic journey. It is also a character building opportunity as youngsters learn to be independent in a place filled with unfamiliar faces.
However, from experience, I have discovered that exchange students have a unique set of concerns to contend with and, without adequate preparation, may end up experiencing a bumpy ride.
1. What to pack
How can you possibly know what you will need for the next six to 12 months?
Should you pack along a duffel bag filled with instant noodles and your favourite John Grishams? What if they don?t have Kit Kat bars where you are going?
Be practical and pack only what you need. You are not going to read all those paperbacks and survive on instant noodles when you are trying to experience a new culture.
Remember, food is every country?s biggest love affair and the best way to participate in a local culture is to eat its food.
Find out what the weather is like and bring suitable clothes. If you plan to jungle-trek and camp, bring outdoor attire and a sleeping bag.
Can?t live without your trusty hair dryer? Check if you will need to bring a power adaptor. The same goes for your handphone charger.
As you pack, throw in some ziplock plastic bags and keep your toiletries sealed in them.
You can also keep your camera and films in these, for if all else gets wet, there will still be proof of your fun-filled trip, all the way to the photo album!
Another must-have is a first aid kit. Choose one made of fabric like soft canvas for easy storage.
If you need to bring along specific medicine, make sure you have sufficient supplies. Label the medicine clearly and carry with you the necessary prescriptions. Customs officers might get suspicious of packets of unlabelled pills in your possession.
Also, pack along a palm-sized sewing kit as wear and tear can take its toll on your backpack and clothes.
2. Carry identification
Apply early for your passport and visas, and photocopy all identification documents before you leave your home country. Give one set to your parents and another to your home country?s exchange programme counsellor.
Keep at least one set for yourself. This makes it easier to process another batch of identification should the original documents get lost or stolen when you are away from home.
Never keep the copies together with the originals.
Also, make it a point to register with the nearest embassy or consulate upon arriving at your host country. This will make your presence known in case of an emergency.
3. Health matters
Ensure that you have sufficient medical insurance to cover various needs, particularly if you plan to indulge in high-risk sports such as jumping off towers and racing down rivers.
Identify your host country?s immunisation requirements, and see your physician, dentist and optometrist prior to your departure. It is also advisable to take along an optical prescription, in case you need to order new glasses or contact lenses.
If you need to see a doctor while abroad, consult with locals first, or you may well end up with a huge bill.
4. Research your host country
It is essential to get your facts right, especially when it comes to practical information such as the average cost of living, latest exchange rate and the best way to move around. Some students are keen to take up part-time jobs abroad.
Whatever it is, be it making sense of a subway map or finding out about a special work visa, the host country?s exchange programme counsellor is often the best person to consult.
Take the effort to find out about your host country?s geography, people and culture. Knowing your host country?s problems and current national affairs will help you communicate better with the locals.
Speaking of communication, the choice of country in the first place depends on a student?s desire ? or hesitation ? to speak in a foreign language. For instance, if you wish to learn Spanish or take up French, make sure you know at least the basics of the language before you pack and go, unless you wish to look like a lost tourist with the IQ of a cupcake.
Bear in mind that some countries are notorious for their insistence on ?helping? foreigners polish up language skills by speaking only in their language.
5. Getting over culture shock
Alas, no matter how much research you?ve done, you are still bound to experience a certain measure of culture shock once you are there. Almost everyone abroad goes through this ? from getting used to the food and language to buying fruit and figuring out how to cross the road without breaking the law.
Basically, there are four stages of culture shock ? the ?honeymoon?, rejection, adjustment and recovery. The ?honeymoon? sees you enthralled by the exotic sights before you. Once your initial passion diminishes, however, you will start to feel frustrated, edgy and a tad homesick.
Among the few things you can do to get through this period is to expect the unexpected. Allow yourself the liberty to mess up ? it is impossible to fit into a new culture immediately, no matter how hard you try.
Make friends with other exchange students as well as local ones. Group together and organise outings like a weekend getaway, a game of tennis or even a carefree night out in the city.
And finally, be ready for anything. You never know when you may find yourself in the midst of a local custom your guidebooks did not warn you about. Keep your sense of humour and an open mind, but set limits. If local customs involve dancing on broken glass or eating fermented squids and you?re just not up to this, respectfully decline.
6. Academic freedom
In many Asian countries, university students find their academic paths set for them ? there is not need to consider options because decisions are made for them.
In contrast, students in Europe manage their own academic affairs and are given a great deal of freedom to choose courses.
But don?t let this throw you off balance. You will soon come to terms with the system and discover the advantages of being able to develop according to your interests.
7. Living on a budget
Most exchange students are on a tight leash where budget is concerned but do not fret. There are ways to eat out without having to spend like a duke.
Forget tuxedoed waiters, crystal chandeliers and leather-bound menus ? look beyond these luxuries and start ?eating on the cheap?. Check out where local students and average Joes eat. Authentic local cuisine need not be expensive if you know where to go.
Ultimately, takeouts are the way to go for anyone on a really strict budget, so be sure to identify bakeries and mini-marts close to where you live.
As for accommodation, in-campus hostels are the best choice if you are looking for safe, affordable accommodation, plus the chance to socialise with your peers.
The next best bet is sharing an apartment with other students.
Again, check with your host country?s exchange programme counsellor and look out for notices put up on bulletin boards reserved for students.
8. Keeping records
Documenting your experience abroad is a must! Pen your thoughts about the places you visit and the people you meet.
A fantastic way to beef up your journal is to accompany your jottings with a collection of ?trip bits? ? subway maps, phone cards, ticket stubs, restaurant receipts and even playful sketches of, say, views from your apartment window or you at the beach with sand between your toes. Have your journal close at hand when you need to take down street directions, scribble out restaurant suggestions or exchange contact information with new friends. This is another way to spice up your travel memoirs.
9. A little piece of home
Try to bring souvenirs from your hometown ? key chains, postcards and little trinkets with a local flavour. These gifts are easy to carry and excellent gestures of appreciation. You can give these inexpensive gifts to, say, a helpful taxi driver or an innkeeper who points out a fantastic cafe known only to locals.
Last but not least, don?t forget to pack along pictures of your family and friends back home as they do wonders for striking up conversation with new friends.
Usually, students on exchange programmes are bitten by the wanderlust bug. For example, if you are studying in Paris and enjoying life as a baguette-and-Brie backpacker traversing all over France, why not go the extra mile and see the rest of Europe?
For many, nothing is more associated with youth travel than owning an ISIC (International Student Identity Card) ? you immediately become part of a global community made of millions of students who share a passion for travel and adventure.
The card allows you access to over 30,000 discounts and benefits in at least 100 countries worldwide, including access to a 24-hour multilingual emergency helpline service.
For more information on ISIC, visit www.msltravel.com
You can apply for the ISIC at MSL Travel. You require:
a. complete an application form
b. Attach PROOF of your full-time student status
c. MYR 20.00
Information & Application Form can be downloaded from the MSL Website:
MSL Offers Student Fares ... check it at the MSL website.