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Published by Afterschool.my on Jun 16, 2017, 01:37 pm
The headache that accompanies picking a university can verge on the throbbing kind, even on the best of days. Finding a university that suits you, with a world-class education on offer and brilliant opportunities to boot is already difficult. Then there comes the reality of facing the daunting prices that are listed, sometimes wiping away the dreams of some. Is it possible then, for a university to ever hope to offer good education, and yet maintain reasonable prices? Surely, a pipe dream? While some universities strive to uphold and improve the quality of education they have to offer, others focus on trying to wind down costs. Infrastructure University Kuala Lumpur (IUKL) though, continues to pull off the improbably feat of balancing both. Deputy vice-chancellor Prof Dr Ideris Zakaria talks to Afterschool.my about this matter by first and foremost addressing the notion that good education has to be expensive.
“Good education means the degree has quality that is accredited and recognised. It has good track record and to a certain extent guarantees its holder some work opportunities.”
So how has IUKL managed to pull it off? First and foremost, would be the ingenious implementation of their tuition waiver scheme, offered to all existing students every semester, which shaves of a staggering 50% off tuition for students who manage to maintain a 3.75 and above every semester. While the target may lean towards the upper brackets of what a student is capable of, Dr Ideris Zakaria reveals the other motive behind the incentive.
“This is our initiative to encourage students to concentrate and excel in their studies, at the same time reduce the financial burden of students and parents. All you have to do is to study hard.”
One may be forgiven for thinking IUKL would somehow try and scrounge on other aspects to make-up for their rather affordable funds. How else would they be able to offer the fees they do? However, the common misconception that students are taught is that a quality degree has to be expensive.
“A good quality degree not does have to be expensive."
"At IUKL we try to maintain the optimum level which is affordable to all while at the same time maintain the quality of education. Our prime objective is quality and if that can be achieved at optimum cost then there is no need to increase the cost at the expense of the students.”
Arguably, the biggest difference between a school and university, is the fact that you get to choose your lecturers. While you are not directly allowed to pick teachers from a pool of any sort, what many potential students do not heed is the fact that, most thorough and diligent universities display their academic staff for all to see, along with their qualifications. The question then shifts towards a more pressing one, how does one know how good the lecturers are at a university? “It is very subjective,” says Dr Ideris Zakaria.
“The most important factor is the profile of the academic staff, their experience."
"In some cases, many of the academic staff are from the public institutions who already have many years of experience. For professional degrees, it is advisable to know if the programmes have staff with professional qualifications. At IUKL we maintain at least 3 staff members should have professional qualifications to ensure quality and professionalism.”
The final piece of the jigsaw then of a good education at an affordable price, would be the employability of the graduates it has produced. The Achilles heel that has been struck many students from various universities upon graduation, has been securing a job. IUKL attempts to cure the disease of unemployment among fresh graduates by a multipronged approach which include certifications from multinational supplementing their academic curriculum, such as CISCO for IT students, as well as organising career fairs with potential employers. The final prong in the trident is the extra exposure students are given by being directly involved in real life projects with companies courtesy of collaborations between IUKL and a local business.
As always, while the main dish may be served to perfection, one is always compelled to add a hint of seasoning for an added zing, and the story is no different with IUKL, who have established and cultured numerous affiliations with top ranking universities from UK, NZ, China and many more. While students are always encouraged to sign up with a university that has a stable of countries in their drawer of partners/affiliates, what benefits do such collaborations bring to the table? In a word, many. “Students may continue their study with special consideration in terms of credit exemption/ transfer. Then, there is the golden opportunity of student exchange, where students can spend part of their study at either institution with credit transfer. Finally, cultural exchange is a possibility, where students may spend some time (usually a short break) visiting either institution to learn the culture. We call it edu-tour. This will enrich their cross-cultural experience and broaden their worldview.”
In summary, while IUKL continues to delicately balance itself on a tight-rope, as time passes they continue to not only balance, but walk confidently. With affordable prices supplemented by tuition waivers, a slew of qualified and exemplary academic staff, international relations with top ranking universities and an ever-evolving approach to better prepare its students for university, there is nothing stopping it from running and soaring.
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