THE low number of students enrolling in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programmes has prompted numerous higher learning institutions to come up with initiatives to encourage the interest of secondary school students in STEM subjects.
Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) is one of the universities that have begun reaching out to students.
UMT, in collaboration with the Terengganu Education Department, has been conducting mentor-mentee programmes with schools in the state since 2015.
Its main objective is to develop interest in STEM subjects and increase the number of students going into science stream.
The university uses its “STEM Plus” package, which has six structured modules covering Pure Science, Information Communication Technology, Engineering, English, Mathematics, and Oceanography and Aquatic Resources.
Lecturers facilitate sessions at schools and the UMT campus, while UMT students will be paired as mentors to selected students from Form One to Three in nine schools across the state.
Expanding on the success of the STEM mentor-mentee programme, UMT is set to launch a STEM-based foundation programme in June at its new STEM Foundation Centre, the first of such facilities among universities in Malaysia.
“Based on the positive impact and feedback on initiatives taken by the UMT mentor-mentee team, the vice-chancellor advised the team to propose to the Higher Education Ministry to establish the STEM foundation centre at UMT,” said STEM Foundation Centre director Dr Laili Che Rose.
In May last year, the ministry approved UMT’s application to set up the centre and offer its STEM foundation programme to school leavers this year.
The programme has also received accreditation from the Malaysian Qualifications Agency.
Laili said, unlike programmes offered at other foundation/matriculation centres, the STEM foundation course at UMT focused on being a feeder for STEM undergraduate programmes at local universities.
In the one-year programme, students will study all three subjects of pure science (chemistry, physics, biology), mathematics and components of physical science like engineering, computer application, and earth and space science.
The courses will be spread out across three semesters.
“Application for the programme is now open through the Central University Admission Unit (UPU) online portal. It is open to all candidates who have SPM qualification, especially those from pure science stream,” said Laili.
To enrol, candidates must be Malaysian, have five SPM credits, including Bahasa Melayu and History, and are not over 19 years old.
“The one-year programme is also a stepping stone to STEM degree programmes at UMT,” said Laili.
It is tailored for students who wish to continue their studies at any of UMT’s School of Fundamental Sciences, School of Informatics and Applied Mathematics, School of Marine and Environmental Sciences, School of Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences, School of Ocean Engineering, and School of Food Science and Technology.