UNIVERSITY PLACEMENT: College application, minus the stress
HASSLE-FREE: Malaysia’s newly launched online tertiary education content and recruitment portal offers services to smooth out the university application process
UNDERGRADUATE Farah Dibah A Hanipah had a taste of the stress of applying to a university when she was looking for places to study in the United Kingdom last year.
“It was tedious. I had to scan all of my documents as I had to send them via email. I also had to write essays and get recommendation letters,” says Farah Dibah, who submitted forms to several universities and was accepted into the University of Brighton last September.
The Business Management student wished that there was a hassle-free way of getting into universities.
It is too late for Farah Dibah but others like her may benefit from easyuni.com, a Malaysian online tertiary education content and recruitment portal, which was launched recently.
Owned and managed by Hescar Sdn Bhd — a local MSC-status company — easyuni.com was created four years ago as a free service but only began actively recruiting students in 2010. It wants to smooth out students’ college application experience.
The website features 362 universities in more than 20 countries and its creators claim that it is Southeast Asia’s largest portal of its kind.
It has more than 10,000 registered students with successful placements in universities worldwide.
Like a virtual career counsellor, it searches, compares and shortlists colleges and universities that match the criteria set by users.
Hescar chief executive officer Edwin Tay says: “Students can send in multiple applications to the listed universities online free of charge.”
The idea for the portal was partly inspired by Tay’s personal experience.
“I studied Engineering at university on the school counsellor’s advice,” he says. However, his lack of genuine interest in the field drove him to venture into entrepreneurship instead of practising engineering after graduation.
He wishes young Malaysians will learn from his experience and not settle for a programme that clashes with their passion.
“Students should not compromise on their dream because the decisions they make (at a young age) have serious repercussions on the rest of their lives. Not many people have the time or funds to do multiple degrees. The first study option is the final choice for many,” he adds.
He urges those rejected by their university of choice to browse some 34,000 programmes listed on the portal.
Tay recommends the psychometric test on the website to students who are still exploring their choices.
“The test was developed in collaboration with the psychology department of a private university in Kuala Lumpur. It will help them find courses suited to their personalities and interests,” he says.
In Tay’s experience, psychometric test results can end tension between parents and children who disagree on the right study option.
“We have had cases where parents had a different idea of what is the best programme for the child. So we suggested that they sit the test together. Usually, they find that one of them is right and that ended the disagreement,” says Tay.
He hopes the website will equip young Malaysians with all the information they need to decide on their future.
“Students need to do their own research and make their own call. A child should not be limited to only the institutions that his relatives attended,” he adds. Having said that, Tay understands how the sheer abundance of data available on the Internet can overwhelm fresh school-leavers.
“That is what easyuni.com is for. We can help them find a place which meets their requirements such as location and budget.
“Some look for colleges abroad that are reputable and also close enough to where their relatives live. We have helped these students find the right place for them,” he says, adding that half of the portal users attend local private universities and colleges.
Students need only register using their social networking accounts or email address to use the service.
They must provide their contact details, upload exam transcripts and specify the universities and programme that they wish to enter in order to apply.
easyuni.com staff members will then liaise with the respective universities on the students’ behalf.
Tay’s dream is to see the portal become the private university’s equivalent of the University Admission Unit (or its Malay acronym UPU). The unit has been responsible for the selection and administrative process for applications to Malaysian public universities since the Seventies.
Local school-leavers hoping to enter government universities fill in their online applications via the unit by mid-April. They name the seven programmes and universities of their choice on the form in order of preference.
Successful candidates normally receive an offer letter from one or more of the universities they had picked by June.
Higher Education deputy minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, who launched the website recently, has high expectations of the portal too.
“We hope this facility will help Malaysia recruit 200,000 international students by 2020 in order for us to achieve our target of being the most competitive and capable education hub that Asia Pacific has ever seen,” he says.
Saifuddin is confident that the goal will be met “in no time with online portals such as easyuni.com recruiting international students to study in Malaysia”.
As for Farah Dibah, her university application journey could have been less cumbersome if she had discovered the portal earlier.
“I might have used it if I had known about it,” she says.