Navigating the UPU application process

Thursday Mar 19th, 2020
With Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) results being announced this month, school leavers who want to further their studies at public higher-learning institutions should be busy filling up their applications on the Central University Admission Unit online portal (UPUOnline).

UPUOnline ( has been open for applications since Feb 24, and the closing date is March 31 for SPM school leavers, and April 7 for STPM holders.

Managed and coordinated by the Student Admission Division of the Higher Education Department, UPUOnline is designed according to the “Single Window, Single Offer” concept, whereby all applications, including into matriculation colleges and Teacher Education Institutes (IPGM), are coordinated in one platform.

According to Student Admission Division director Wahi Nordin, the main objective is to avoid redundant offers to the same applicant from various public universities, and provide opportunities to other students.

Left with only one avenue to apply, applicants must really look at their qualifications and do research on the requirements of their preferred courses and institutions.

With 20 public universities, 17 matriculation colleges, 27 IPGMs, 36 polytechnics, 103 community colleges and four skills training institutes (ILKA) listed in the portal, there are plenty of programmes to choose from.

The process has also been simplified.

“Once in the system, candidates need to just enter their MyKad number and they will be able to see what programmes that they are eligible to enrol in.

“We have matched the candidates’ merit points, comprising 90 per cent academic and 10 per cent co-curriculum, with the programme requirements,” said Wahi.

UPU has introduced a new feature on the portal that enables applicants to gauge their chances of getting a place in a particular programme based on real-time data.

Under its “Trend Permohonan dan Tawaran”, applicants can zoom into a particular course being offered by a certain university and see how many applications have been sent in for it, the average merit points of applicants, and the number of applicants who named the course as their first choice.

“This way, students will more or less know their chances of getting a place. We want higher-learning institution candidates to be analytical when choosing their courses and not follow their friends blindly,” he said.

There is also a “Graduate Employability” feature, where prospective students can see how marketable graduates from a particular programme are.

Although applicants under the SPM and STPM/equivalent categories can key in up to 12 choices in their submission, it is only compulsory to select six. For diploma holders, they need only to fill up six choices out of the eight slots given.

The courses should be listed according to preference, beginning with the most desired at the top.

While the meritocracy principle is implemented, Wahi said the selection of students is also dependent on their performance at the university’s interview or entrance examination, should there be any.

“The respective higher-learning institutions will select candidates with the highest scores according to the programme applied for at UPUOnline.

“All applications are processed by a computerised system and the selections are carried out based on the availability of places at the respective institutions,” he said.

For starters, applicants must first purchase a unique PIN number from Bank Simpanan Nasional at RM15.60 each, which will allow them to access UPUonline.

Wahi highlighted that applications can be made under several categories — for example, Lepasan SPM 2019, Lepasan STPM Aliran Sastera, Lepasan Matrikulasi and Lepasan Diploma — so applicants need to make sure that they purchase their ID numbers under the correct category.

For SPM certificate holders, applications are open to SPM 2019, 2018 and 2017 leavers. Matriculation is only open to SPM 2019 leavers.

Entry into degree programmes will see STPM school leavers competing with students from matriculation, foundation, diploma, diploma in Skills Malaysia, Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia and other equivalent qualifications, namely A Level, International Baccalaureate Diploma and Australian Matriculation.

Applicants should also have an active email account as all correspondence and offers will be sent via email and online, Wahi said.

“Applicants can revise their choices before the closing date. Once satisfied , they must click the ‘Sah & Hantar’ button and print out the application slip for safekeeping,” he added.

Results for the SPM category are expected to be released in May while STPM/equivalent are in July.

Those who fail to get a placement can appeal via the portal.
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