With a basic tertiary education as a prerequisite for better career opportunity, more parents are wanting to see their children through university. The limited number of places in public universities has resulted in a substantial amount of qualified students being turned away each year, leading them to either pursue higher education abroad or resort to local private education. It may be financially painful, but proven to be better for a more secured career and future.
1. Tuition fee
In Malaysia, the most notable difference between public and private universities is the tuition fee. Studying in a public university is significantly cheaper than studying in a private university as the Malaysian Government subsidises the cost of tertiary education at public universities. On the other hand, students pursuing private education in Malaysia often have to bear the full burden of their fees unless they are able to secure a scholarship or loan. The fees soar to almost double the amount if it is a foreign based university but with a local campus.
2. Ease of entry
In terms of the entry requirements, there is no denying that it is harder to get into public universities as they impose stricter admissions due to limited space and the quota system. Even if students do get through, they may not necessarily obtain a course or a university of their choice.
Private universities have minimum admission requirements to meet and it is also much easier for a student to gain admission, especially if they fulfil all the requirements. Students are free to choose the course and the university they wish to attend. This makes private universities an attractive option for students who do not want to be stuck with a course that is not of their liking.
3. Command of English
In public universities, the lectures are conducted either in English or Malay but the reference books in the library are mostly in English. While in private universities, both lectures and references are in English. This may give private university graduates the extra edge of being more exposed to the English language.
When it comes to good command of the English language, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) finds that graduates from private universities tend to be better. In a survey conducted among their members, they found that 60% of them identified low English proficiency as the main problem with young recruits. Similarly, Jobstreet surveyed companies on their database and found that 55% of respondents believe that poor command of the English language was the main culprit for unemployment among fresh graduates.
Having a commendable English proficiency does not only enhance one’s chance of employment, but also helps improve their salary, promotion and job prospects. As a result, these students become profoundly capable contributors to our society. A research study conducted by Euromonitor International showed that those with higher proficiency in the English language could have an increase of 25% in their salary.
4. Twinning or transfer programme
Private universities offer students twinning or transfer programmes – whereby students are still able to complete their degree at a local-based foreign universities. Though more expensive than local private university, it is nevertheless cheaper if compared to completing your degree in the home country of the foreign university.
By taking up a “2+1” or “3+1” twinning or transfer degree programme, students are still able to study abroad and be exposed to different cultures at a more affordable cost. For their first two or three years students do their degree here and then, they complete their final year overseas. At the end of the day, their degree certificate is from a foreign university, which makes them more marketable at the international front.
5. Environment and culture
With regards to the learning environment and culture, private universities pride themselves on creating vibrant communities where different types of people can learn together and share their experiences. Many institutions foster diversity in all its forms, including ethnic, religious, socio-economic, geographic, learning style, academic interest and background. Having classmates that come from different economic backgrounds, communities with unique values, traditions and income levels makes the learning environment a more interesting place.
Foreign universities that have local campuses here usually offer their degree programmes based on the syllabus of their home country and even exam papers are assessed by examiners there. By taking such degrees, students have a greater opportunity of settling down overseas and it is believed that the standard of assessment is much higher.
The classroom dynamic is different at a private universities as they are expected to participate actively in classroom discussions and complete coursework. Private universities generally have smaller class sizes too. Therefore, the lecturer and students ratio is much smaller, and the environment is more conducive for open communication and dialogue during the class. Private universities also have a significantly higher amount of extra-curricular activities and programmes for students to participate in, which can develop a stronger sense of community.
For families who are not prepared financially for their children’s tertiary education, public and semi-government universities provide them a chance to still further their education. With the right attitude, a qualification from these universities can get you far.
However, for those who have the funds – going private is the best option. Private colleges and universities can offer a wide range of learning opportunities and exposure. With globalisation, a good command of the English language and also better communication skills definitely open doors to the youths. It’s a larger investment but the payout for your child’s future is significantly greater – so plan ahead and start saving for your kid’s education now!