It’s been three decades but the Star Education Fair continues to pull in the crowds for the many study options, career talks and scholarships.
THE Star Education Fair 2017 held last weekend, was extra special as it marked its 30th year. As to be expected, the fair saw almost 80,000 visitors throng the halls of the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre over two days to gather as much information as they could on everything and anything related to tertiary education.
Even before the doors opened, visitors were seen scanning the information boards listing the talks and locations of more than 150 exhibitors as they geared up to ask questions at those manning the booths.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk P Kamalanathan who opened the fair, said it was “the” place for parents and students to browse through all their options, making it a “one-stop education exhibition.”
“It offers the widest choice of programmes from diploma to undergraduate to postgraduate courses,” he added.
He also said that through this fair: “Every education institution inside and outside this country will have the opportunity to serve students in Malaysia.”
“We also have international universities setting up their campuses in Malaysia.”
Kamalanathan also said that those who do not excel academically should not forget that they can still further their studies in vocational courses.
Star Media Group Bhd group chief operating officer Calvin Kan said: “Since the fair started in 1987, we are proud to have been connecting young Malaysians with the best education institutions.”
“However, identifying the education institution and the programme to enrol in, can be one of the most difficult decisions to make,” he said.
Students and parents who attended the “Options After SPM: Making the Right Choice” talk on the first day of the fair were treated to a performance by Michael Jackson, or rather Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences’ guest speaker Jackson Ng Teck Seng who kick started the first session of the Careers and Education talk by dancing to the King of Pop’s popular Billie Jean track.
Following Ng’s session was a talk on “High Income Careers” by Limkokwing University of Creative Technology special assistant to the president Dr Mahaganapathy Dass who spoke about how the creative industry contributes to growth across all industries and the key skills graduates need to secure a high income career.
“A global mindset needs to be developed.
“You should think beyond boundaries, travel to gain exposure, go for internships and be open-minded,” said Dr Mahaganapathy.
As usual, the “Pursuing Medicine & Health Sciences” talk drew a large crowd on the first day of the fair.
Penang Medical College dean and head of Department of Surgery Prof N. Premnath was frank when he explained the high entry requirements, study cost and language expectations for pursuing medicine.
Dr Premnath added that securing a job after graduation was not as easy as before. International Medical University’s School of Medicine dean Prof Datuk Dr Kew Siang Tong added that the medical field is facing emerging challenges such as an ageing population, changing patterns and diseases, waves of emerging and re-emerging infections.
“Consumers and patients are also getting very sophisticated,” she said during her talk on the “Changing Landscape in Medicine”.
So, medical education must adapt to these changes by incorporating technology and other skillsets, said Prof Kew.
Judging by the packed hall during the Study and Work Overseas sessions, many students were looking to further their studies in Ireland, Canada, China, the United States, United Kingdom and New Zealand, which were the focus of the talks.
The session on Ireland was presented by Ireland Enterprise International Education Services manager Terry Mc Parland.
“Ireland offers international students the ability to work part-time while studying. They can earn RM50 an hour, which can pay for food and utilities, reducing study costs,” he said.
Also, Malaysians do not need a visa to study in Ireland, and have a 12-month stay back option where they can travel or work, he added.
During the Opportunities in US session, Kavita Chandran, advisor at MACEE Education USA Advising Centre said that the United States is a very understanding country that allows students to change their major without penalty, and where students can do dual-degrees.
Scholarships in America are also pretty unique in that they are stackable. “You can apply for multiple scholarships and you can get seven different scholarships with different amounts and use all of them,” said Chandran.
For the Opportunities in UK session, Lynch Craig and Ilkka Saarinen shared what it was like to live in the United Kingdom from a student’s perspective.
The last talk of the series came from Kiwi Studies and Migration Advisory student consultant Lau Chin Wee who spoke about the chance for a New Zealand graduate to gain the right to work and residence in the country.
During his talk “Future Employment Skills”, Finance Accreditation Agency chief executive officer Khairul Nizam Md Som shared some insights on the key skills students and graduates should have.
Khairul Nizam highlighted three skills required by graduates, namely communication, leadership and management skills.
“Having a curious mind with an interest in general knowledge and current affairs will help students gain a broader perspective of issues and improve their creative thinking skills,” he added.
During the talk on “Science and Entrepreneurship: A True Story”, UCSI University Assoc Prof Dr Bimo Ario Tejo said: “Entrepreneurship is about persistence. It is how you develop your idea from zero into something”. “It is something new and revolutionary but future trends show that we are moving towards becoming a more entrepreneurial society,” he said, adding that it is time for people to create jobs instead of looking for one.
PSB Academy School of Life and Physical Sciences lecturer Dr Han Siew Ping said that a science degree can lead to more than just a life in the laboratory.
“Having a degree or background in science will help you solve problems better,” she said during her talk titled “Why Study Science? Degrees For The Future Economy.”
She added that learning how to carry out scientific research teaches you how to solve problems systematically.
This, she said, is a valuable skill when it comes time to job-hunt as soft-skills are worth more to employers than academic grades.
During his talk on “Knowing Me, Knowing You – An Occupational Therapy View”, Perdana University School of Occupational Therapy dean Prof Nathan Vytialingam encouraged more former students to consider taking up occupational therapy to meet the growing demand.
“The Malaysian population is at 30 million but we only have 1,800 occupational therapists,” he said.
He added that occupational therapists are vital, especially for an ageing population.
“They’re not only needed in hospitals but also in nursing homes and special needs schools,” he added.
Quest International University Perak Faculty of Integrative Science Technology associate professor Lam Hong Lee said that smart devices are an essential part of our lives today and will be even more important in the future.
He said a solid knowledge in computer science is needed to create smart devices and systems.
Multimedia University Faculty of Computing and Informatics lecturer Dr Ian Tan said Malaysia needs 1,500 data scientists by 2020.
“There is an abundance of data nowadays and a data scientist analyses all these data.
“What a data scientist does translates to money for his company,” he said during his talk titled “Data Scientist – The Job Of The Future.”
He said that the job of the data scientist was considered “one of the sexiest of the 21st century”. The job goes by many names including data engineer, analytics manager and business intelligence manager.
There were just as many people on the fair’s second dayas students filled up the hall in an instant to catch HELP University lecturer, counselling supervisor and trainer Justin Yap speak on selecting a suitable programme after SPM.
“Deciding on what to study and who to marry are decisions which bears similarity,” he said drawing laughter from the crowd.
“Both decisions have the possibility of failure, long lasting impacts and far reaching consequences, which leads to regret,” he added.
At the session on study and career options, Prof Hew Gill, head of Sunway University’s Department of Psychology, explained why psychology is the career of the future, in his talk.
“In fact, psychology has a part in everything we do – the way we think, market a product, educate people and our take on beauty. More organisations are beginning to recognise the need to have a psychologist in the workplace.
Asia Pacific University of Technology and Innovation vice-president of operations Gurpardeep Singh said that “technology enables people to access services beyond borders”.
The three forms of technology that are creating disruptions are the Internet of Things, big data and cloud computing.
“Malaysia will see a huge demand for professionals in these areas,” he added
KDU University College head of School of Computing and Creative Media Tan Chin Ike focused on raising awareness on game development among parents and students.
“The games industry is divided into three areas – game art, design and technology and is larger than the movie, music, television and book industry combined,” he said.
He said international companies have set up their branches in Malaysia and are looking for capable talents here.
Blended learning and the development of e-learning is a dynamic area, said Taylor’s University School of Computing and IT dean Dr David Asirvatham during his talk “Blended Learning: Balancing Online and F2F Classroom Instructions”.
“Students can expect a lot of excitement when they enter this field,” said Dr Asirvatham.
“Don’t just play a game on your smartphone, do code and create your own game,” said Asia Dev Academy director Eric Ku.
Coding is part of everyone’s life as it is all around us, especially with applications that help us on a daily basis, he said.
“Coding is being introduced in schools for students to acquire skills and think logically, which ultimately helps these individuals to solve a problem,” he said.
Teenagers aren’t the only ones interested to learn how to code, retirees and even young children are interested in coding, Ku added.
It is a myth that graduating with a law degree can only lead to practising law, said Brickfields Asia College programme manager and lecturer Andrew Kalish.
During his talk “Other Interesting Careers – What Are My Career Options After A Law Degree”, Andrew debunked several myths to attendees.
“When you look at various companies, quite a number of their directors are lawyers. So, (this shows) you don’t only have to become a practising lawyer,” he added.
Tunku Abdul Rahman University College Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment Department of Materials associate dean Dr Chew Khoon Hee drew a grim picture of how the world would be without engineers. There is engineering involved in everything, yet those pursuing courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, were decreasing.
SEGi College Subang Jaya Head of Engineering Faculty M. Sri Jaiandran also spoke on engineering, focusing on aspects and designs inspired by nature.
University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus Chemical and Process Engineering head of department Prof Dr Law Chung Lim touched on the various types of accredited engineering programmes available.
He also highlighted the path to being a worldwide recognised engineer as well as the importance of taking up a course accredited by the Board of Engineers Malaysia.
Nilai University Mechanical Engineering Department programme coordinator Zairul Amri Zakaria focused on mechanical engineering and guided the audience through the few stages of the design process in mechanical engineering.
He also shared his experience and case studies of engineering projects he worked on during his time in London and Paris.