By Jo Lynn Chong
It’s a headache for school leavers, as they contemplate long and hard about their next move upon graduating from high school.
The countless university brochures, the numerous open-day banners, the endless search for a course that one might or might not take up. Some have described it as window-shopping for universities, as students continue to be baffled by the numbers and choices of courses and universities offered around the world.
There has been an exodus of students from Ipoh to other states in search of tertiary education over the years. The reasons, based on Ipoh Echo’s findings, are a lack of choice in courses and top-notch universities. We sought views from parents and students who have left Ipoh to further their studies elsewhere.
A 17-year-old Ipohite who is currently studying in The One Academy of Communication Design, a private arts and design institute headquartered in Bandar Sunway, Selangor, said, “None of the colleges in Ipoh are well-known for pursuing art.”
It is important to note that colleges and universities in Ipoh offer fewer courses than those in the Klang Valley, the most popular destination for school leavers from Ipoh. Sunway University at Bandar Sunway, Subang Jaya, offers far more courses and facilities than Sunway College, Ipoh. Engineering, psychology and biomedicine degree courses are only a few of the programmes that Sunway University offers which Sunway College Ipoh does not.
Many of the well-established universities are also located in other states, such as University of Southampton – Malaysia Campus in Gelang Patah, Johor, and University of Nottingham Malaysia in Semenyih, Selangor.
Parents are in agreement that institutions of higher learning in Ipoh do not guarantee good futures for graduates. “Kuala Lumpur has better lecturers and bigger schools, provides more facilities, and not to mention, gives you more opportunities for internship,” said a mother of two children, who is from Ipoh. Annie Yong, 42, from Batu Gajah said, “The universities and colleges in Ipoh do not provide good environments or guarantee job opportunities for students. Ipoh is still very old-fashioned.”
Comments from students also stressed that leaving Ipoh to be in top-notch universities paves a smoother road to getting better-paid jobs, as well as being able to work in First World countries. Many are aware of the economic challenges our country is facing and having received a good quality education, we hope, will put us way ahead of others, in a world that is constantly growing more and more competitive as we speak.
Of course, the story does not just end here.
For some, leaving Ipoh is really part of learning to grow up, as well as to pick up life skills and new experiences.
“I prefer my children to study away from Ipoh so that they could learn to survive outside their comfort zone. Ipoh is such a comfortable city to live in,” said Sylvia, 59, a working mother.
A 17-year-old Ipohite who is currently studying in Kuala Lumpur said, “I feel like I needed a change to experience what it’s like to be more independent. Campus life is also exciting, as I get to meet more people sharing the same interests as me.”
Regardless of what various opinions there may be, the underlying issue, however, is always the cost, especially if you are going overseas. Here are some of the thoughts by Ipoh students who ventured out of the borders to further their education.
“The cost of food is very expensive, so my friends and I prefer to cook. I find that it is the same in Ipoh and Melbourne when it comes to facilities and there is not much difference where you study. If you move to a different country or area your mood and thinking will be different, as you get to learn about other cultures,” said Josephine Chong, who is currently studying in the University of Melbourne.
“Studying A-Levels in the UK gives me higher chances to get into medical universities there. Overall, it is a new experience. I get to meet different people and all of whom are very smart. It motivates me to study harder whilst being here as well. The cost, however, is high,” said a 17 year old who moved to the UK to study.
Despite the fact that the majority of the students and parents opt to go out of Ipoh for tertiary education, there are a few who think otherwise.
“I prefer my children to pursue their tertiary education in Perak as it’s not far away from home. They can be in Ipoh if there is a suitable university or college, or in another place in Perak. To me, I feel more comfortable and secure with my children near me. I can visit them often and lend a helping hand when they need me,” said a 47-year-old lady from Kuala Kangsar. She opined that staying in Ipoh has its own unique benefits.
The three major universities in Perak, Quest International University, Ipoh, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Kampar and Universiti Kuala Lumpur Royal College of Medicine Perak attract students from in and out of the state.
There will always be two sides to every story, so what will be your choice? To stay or not to stay?