WITH Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results expected to be announced next month, school leavers should begin planning their future and start looking at study options.
There is no lack of choice in terms of programmes at public and private higher-learning institutions that cater to hands-on students and the academically-inclined.
Education Ministry Higher Education Department deputy director-general Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Saleh Jaafar said there are many options for SPM school leavers.
“They include certificate courses, foundation studies, matriculation and diploma programmes at private and public universities, colleges, polytechnics, community colleges and skills training institutes.
“Others include degrees offered by the Malaysian Institutes of Teaching Education (IPGM),” he said.
“There is also Form 6, where school leavers can enter university after sitting for Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM).”
He said each option has its own merits.
“School leavers, either with SPM or STPM (or equivalent) qualification, must have in-depth discussion with their parents, family members, their counselling teachers and seniors, perhaps, to gain information and gauge which option is best.
“They must take into account their own interest and what the future holds,” he said.
Chen Ai Koon, a counselor at SMK Seri Serdang in Seri Kembangan, Selangor, said there are basically two pathways after SPM.
The first is the pursuit of professional careers like medicine, accounting, engineering and architecture. Second is for those who are keen on skills-based jobs.
The first pathway, she said, provides a faster route to getting a degree, which involves taking up pre-university programmes like matriculation, foundation studies or Form 6. The second is the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) pathway, which involves taking up certificate and diploma courses.
“The main aim of a diploma programme is to produce a semi-professional workforce.
“A diploma gives an opportunity for SPM school leavers who did not qualify for pre-university studies to be trained for the working world.
“However, if the diploma student can prove that he or she is able to excel in studies, he or she will have the opportunity to continue to a bachelor’s degree. It is important to note that this is not an automatic process.”
To decide on the pathway, Chen said SPM school leavers must know what they want to become one day, what programmes to pursue, and what qualifications are needed to get into the programmes.
Saleh said when choosing between a public and private university, both have their own strengths and specialties.
“The quality of universities can be seen in the QS World University Rankings and local MyQuest Rating.
“Students should choose their programmes wisely by looking into the prospective university’s QS World ranking and MyQuest Rating scores. The quality of programmes should be a key factor.
“In addition, students should consider their financial ability to ensure that they are not burdened with problems during studies and after graduation.”
Saleh said tuition fees at public universities are subsidised by the government to help students obtain high-quality education at a low cost.
There are also sponsorships provided by government agencies, such as the Public Service Department and Education Ministry scholarship department.
“Besides those, private entities like Yayasan Tenaga National, Petronas, Telekom Malaysia and Bank Negara Malaysia also offer their own scholarships.
“This initiative will help poor, deserving students obtain a higher education,” he said.
On the prospects of SPM school leavers enrolling directly in higher education institutions, Saleh said looking at the past three years’ trend, there is a better success rate.
“A total of 50.1 per cent of eligible SPM candidates were offered a seat in the 2017/2018 academic session. This percentage increased to 86.5 in the 2018/2019 academic session.
“However, for the 2019/2020 academic session, only 69.09 per cent were offered places in certificate, foundation and diploma programmes at public universities, polytechnics, community colleges and skills training institutes,” he said.
This year, with the implementation of the “Single-window, single-offer” concept — where matriculation and places for the Bachelor of Education (PISMP) at IPGM will also be offered via UPUOnline — the university enrollment of SPM school leavers is expected to increase.
“For 2020, I am expecting to see higher demand for TVET programmes since the government is focusing on initiatives that produce highly-skilled workers to cater to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
“This is the time for school leavers to grab the opportunities. Choose what is best for you,” he said.
To assist students in making their choices, Higher ED will be running an in-depth series on choices after SPM over the coming weeks. Don’t miss it!