An issue has been highlighted recently by our media, this concerned our PM wanting feedbacks from Malaysian that have studied oversea and what they saw there that could be applied to our university and improve it further. This is somehow related to the concern that our universities are not favourably ranked by the world. Our ranks usually starts in the hundreds and usually UM our oldest univ getting the better rank.
The highlight was that the ranking systems focuses on the product (students/graduates) and the manufacturers (lecturers). How good/ready are the students when they leave the univ and how qualified are the lecturer plus how many researchs/advancements they have done.
With this in mind, feedback was needed to see how overseas university compares to our local university, as the request comes directly from the PM, we can imagine how serious our government is taking the issue. Thus far the feedback line is still open (to my knowledge) and just now I saw something on TV that suggests while our PM was abroad he talked to Malaysian students and lecturers there to hear what they have to say.
One particular comment that was highlighted was from a Dr. Syed Nasrin Syed Zainal Abidin who previously taught in USM for 3 years and in the UK (Univ of Birmingham?) for 6 years. The comment was that when comparing our students in the UK and when he was teaching in USM, he believes that the students in Malaysia (USM) put a lot more effort into studying, their downfall was only that they are not proficient in English. He also believes that we need to prepare our student for the global market and not just for our region (South East Asia).
Here was the point that got me thinking, if our students are alreading putting their backs in studying, but still getting no luck in securing a job then it is our local university that actually does a bad job of preparing a student for the workplace. The university mainly focuses on the professional courses such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Engineering and so on (even bragging how good they are), while continuing to fail in preparing students with a general degree to have a grasp on what they would face when they enter the marketplace. This has been mentioned a lot of time, the university needs to know what the employers want, they can’t simply stuck a syllabus to a degree without realizing which part of the syllabus is actually going to help the student when they are working.
For a science major, I felt that my syllabus was designed as if all of the students wanted to be researchers and lecturers and enter academia. That is an impossibility in itself, some courses were plain useless and at times redundant, with more than one course covering the same basics. As an example is there a major difference between Enviromental Management and Aquatic Environment Management? not by much if you took the course, just the focus was changed.
The idea has been mooted for sometime now, the University need to have feedback from the employer what basics they want in their future employee. For the professional courses it is simple for the professional body to give feedbacks to univ, but other employers? I would not deny that some jobs would require extensive on the job training by employers as the job requirements are too highly specialized. But somehow I can see that most students comes out without even the basic knowledge. Some degrees have it the other way around, even though they are not professionally linked, they are somehow too specialized, making it hard for the graduate to find the exact work that will fit their degree. Thus making the degree just a requisite for higher pay and not knowledge.
For me I was lucky that along the way I picked up some basic human skills that is needed in almost every other job. Luck plus plain interest in the field of human psychology To which I can happily say that I have had a multitude of job while I was still studying, and not all in the same field. Thus, I gained experience on what my future employer would expect of me. To be on the crazy side, I chose a job which was not related at all to my degree and I’m having fun doing it
Which leaves me to my final question. Have your university education prepared you for your current job, or did you pick up the skills on your own? Leave a comment.
Till next time, Adieu