THE world is their oyster,” says Patricia Jayshree, senior lecturer in Nilai University College’s Maths and Sciences department. Speaking on the career prospects for biotechnology graduates, she is keen to stress that biotechnology graduates are not necessarily laboratory bound.
“Biotechnology is the science of today. It is the driving force behind many industries and discoveries in today’s world. From agriculture to pharmaceutical organisations, biotechnology expertise is required. Graduates can work in any area in supervisory positions and as management trainees in diverse departments in biotech organisations including research and development, business development, quality control, production and manufacturing, as well as publishing or journalism. The possibilities are really endless.”
Nilai University College offers two related programmes – Diploma in Biotechnology and the BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology. Entry requirements for the former are three SPM credits including mathematics or science as well as a pass in Bahasa Malaysia.
Patricia explains that the diploma programme is designed to equip students for a hands-on role mainly in the laboratories. It has strong fundamentals with modules on introductory genetics, cell biology and organic chemistry to give students a solid foundation in the field of biotechnology.
The diploma programme can also act as a bridge into the BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology, which allows students direct entry into the second year of the three-year programme. The degree option, says Patricia, is ideal for students who are looking to fully explore the potential of biotechnology.
Two principle passes in STPM or a pass in Nilai UC’s Foundation in Science programme will gain entry into this degree programme, which trains students to the highest standards expected in the ever-evolving world of biotechnology.
“To ensure our syllabus is up-to-date and in-line with industry expectations, Nilai UC has formed an industry advisory panel to continually assess and advise on the syllabus,” states Patricia.
This advisory panel consists of representatives of the Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation Sdn Bhd, Inno Bio Ventures Sdn Bhd, Felda Biotechnology, Viventis Technologies Sdn Bhd, Sime Darby Technology Centre and Malaysian Biotechnology Information Centre.
Students pursuing this degree are given a wide array of choices that will lead them to a specialisation of their choice in the final year. The degree holder will have the option of pursuing a master’s or a doctorate in their preferred field in any public or private institution to gain an added advantage in the job market. “The better qualified you are, the better your career prospects,” advises Patricia.
It is the issue of career prospects that Patricia is keen to emphasise as she says many students and their parents are unclear of the scope of employment available to biotechnology graduates. The Malaysian government has been making concerted efforts for the country to become a biotech hub, which includes launching Bio-Xcell in Johor.
There are more than 90 BioNexus status companies currently operating in Malaysia and there is a high demand for skilled and qualified workforce. Positions that biotechnology graduates can fill include management supervisors, research officers, business development officers, patenting executives, product specialists, and quality control personnel. The degree programme at Nilai UC also acts as a bridge for students to fill the great demand for researchers in this booming field and where ample scholarships as well as studentships are readily available.
Patricia also states that biotechnology is a vast field with various areas of specialisation. These include medical, agricultural and molecular biotechnologies, genomic, forensics, stem cell research, nano-biotechnology, marine and environmental biotechnology.
“It is up to the student to decide which areas he or she wants to explore. Currently, biotechnology has pervaded all traditional professions such as engineering and medicine, emerging as bioengineering as well as medical biotechnology. We have to leave our conventional way of thinking and move ahead with the times to be internationally competitive. Nilai UC’s biotechnology programmes offer a solid foundation for them to build on by emphasising the fundamentals and plenty of hands-on experience,” says Patricia, pointing out that Nilai UC administrators have spared no expense to build a dedicated engineering, science and technology block with state-of-the-art laboratories.
A major advantage that this programme offers is the research module that the students pursue in their final year, which entails two semesters of research under the supervision of a faculty member. Students are exposed to the nitty-gritty details of research right from designing their project, carrying it out almost independently and finally producing a report par excellence.
“The best indicator of success of the Nilai UC biotechnology programmes is in the fact that almost all of our graduates have found employment. A great majority found a niche that interested them and have been offered scholarships to pursue postgraduate studies in the local universities and even abroad in the UK and New Zealand. Many of them were retained by the companies they did their internships in. This is a great validation of the quality of the Nilai UC graduates as well as of the content of the syllabus,” says Patricia.
For more information www.nilai.edu.my