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Passport to university
Published on: Monday, June 13, 2022
By: K Krishnan
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IT IS a dream for many students to have a university qualification.  It is also a pride to say that you have a Bachelors degree, a Masters degree or a Ph.D. Many would aspire to have a few alphabets behind their name such as B.A, LLB, B.Sc, etc. Is it difficult to get a university degree?

When you have completed your SPM or secondary education in Malaysia, you need a Pre-U (Preparation for University) to enter the university. Traditionally, students sat for the STPM before applying to the university. The STPM is considered as a very challenging examination to Pass. Many students don’t want to study after their SPM. They want to explore easier options to get a degree. Why is there a sudden change among students? 

STPM 

Many students who complete their SPM don’t want to pursue the STPM route to enter the university. They usually give the following excuses:

l STPM is very tough l STPM is difficult to pass l STPM is in Bahasa Malaysia l The subjects that you want to take are not offered l STPM is not recognised in foreign countries (really?) l STPM is not offered in my school  l STPM takes two years to complete l STPM is a waste of time

You would have heard of many more excuses which are not listed above. 

Basically students do not value the STPM route because the government does not promote or publicise STPM. Many schools do not highlight the STPM. Many teachers do not encourage or motivate students to study for the STPM. It is a trend in many STPM schools to start the school year with 10 STPM classes. As time goes on the number of classes become smaller and smaller. The school is considered very lucky if it has four STPM classes by the end of the school year.

Why do STPM students drop out? 
  • Students lose interest
  • Students join other private international schools
  • Students get other offers so they move on
  • Many join other Pre-U routes to enter university
  • Some join the workforce
  • Some claim that their teachers have encouraged them to join other colleges
  • Some students say that there is a lack of good teachers
  • A few claim that there are no suitable textbooks for STPM subjects


The school authorities take it as a norm because it has been happening every year. If the students are not interested, why stop them? Let them go. As far as the schools are concerned, they have given up.

To make matters worst, the government has created many other alternative routes to the university. Students who are not interested in taking the STPM can opt for the Matriculation. They feel the Matriculation exam is easier to pass when compared to the STPM. There are also Foundation courses and Diploma courses offered at the Universities which does not require the STPM. Many students are confused because they do not know whether to take the STPM, the Matriculation, the Foundation Programme or the Diploma Courses offered by the universities. Why shouldn’t  the poor child be lost? 

What about parents? 

Today’s parents are very busy shuttling between their careers and their families. Some parents feel that: l Even if you pass the STPM, you may not get the university or the course you want l You apply for a course and you are offered something else l There is a quota system for university places l It is better to go to a private college and get a degree

Many parents are influenced by the advertisements in the media and convince themselves that it s better to send their children to private colleges or universities. Even if it cost them money, there is no choice when it comes to matters related to education. 

Misleading ads

Private Colleges and Universities are also very aggressive in their marketing activities. They need students at the end of the day. They organise Education Roadshows, Career Fairs, Career Seminars and many other activities to attract students. 

They advertise in the social media, they put up bill boards, they advertise on TV, radio, cinemas and the internet. Not forgetting they advertise in the newspapers and magazines and distribute flyers door-door. When times are bad, private colleges and universities are also very badly affected. 

They need to recruit as many students as they can. In short, the advertising done by Private Colleges and Universities overshadow all the local government universities and their programmes. 

To compete with the STPM, many private institutions offer FREE Foundation courses. The courses are FREE, the duration is short and students are guaranteed places in the degree programs they offer. 

Last but not the least, the foreign universities and their local agents are also very aggressive in their marketing. They too offer scholarships and financial aid to attract students. Students are offered places into their universities even if they don’t have the STPM. They usually accept other Pre-U programmes. 

Career Tips

SPM results are coming out soon. If your child does not want to take the STPM, you know the reasons now. It is not really their fault. You need to talk to them. 
  • STPM route is not only for poor students. Even if you have the financial means, you can still pursue the STPM 
  • Afterall STPM is free- there is no tuition fee to pay  
  • If your child is undecided on his future career path, give him extra time to think. He can decide while he is doing his STPM.
  • Not all children are matured when they finish SPM. Keep them with you for another two years, so they can grow up. STPM will give them the space.


There is no hurry to find the shortest route or the fastest route. Children must enjoy and learn at their own pace. Let them enjoy their schooling days!

 





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