By Kuah Guan Oo
Pic by Marina Ismail
SERDANG, 11 Oct (UPM) – Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) is offering a foundation programme for SPM-holders to study at the university after their fifth forms.
These Form Five students who would end their secondary school education with the SPM (or Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) certificates, usually have the option of going on to prepare for their university entrance by continuing with a year-long matriculation programme or the two-year Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) or upper high school certificate.
The UPM Foundation Studies for Agricultural Science programme (FSAS), however, is another route to university for a Bachelor degree for the fifth formers. It is essentially a Foundation in Science programme with additional courses in agricultural science.
The programme has two modes of entry, the fast track (laluan pantas) and the mainstream (arus perdana). The fast track programme starts in January and ends in August in the same year while the mainstream starts in May and ends in May, the following year.
Those students with excellent results in their trial SPM examination can be drafted into the fast-track foundation programme lasting 2 semesters, while the others can be enrolled in the mainstream course of 3 semesters in one year, said Prof Dr Mahiran Basri, the director of the Centre of Foundation Studies for Agriculture Science (Pusat Asasi Sains Pertanian - PASP).
The PASP has been managing the mainstream foundation science programme since its establishment in 2005 and the fast track programme since 2011, for the SPM holders to continue their tertiary education in UPM.
“This Foundation Studies for Agricultural Science programme offers the SPM-holders another pathway to enter university and what is advantageous to them is that they can choose to enrol to study in any Bachelor degree courses in UPM, depending on their grades and interests,” she said.
The UPM foundation programme does not limit the students only to a Bachelor degree programme in the field of agriculture. Rather, it opens the door to any of the Bachelor degree courses offered by the 16 faculties of UPM.
She, however, cautioned that the PASP programme “is not a walk in the park”.
Though the mainstream programme is for one year (or three semesters of 14 weeks each), it is intensive or compressed, where the students would be taught in subjects such as biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics as well as courses in the field of agriculture, English and computer science.
Even more compressed is the fast-track programme which is carried out in two semesters with high credit loads.
Prof Mahiran gave the assurance to the students that PASP has highly qualified teaching staff, mostly with PhD degrees to give them full attention and coaching when they enrolled for the programme.
We have built up our system such that we are sensitive to the academic and emotional well-being of the students. Once they under-perform or they are troubled, we will talk to them directly to find out why, and take remedial action,” she added.
Asked why UPM introduced such a pre-university entrance module, Prof Mahiran, a chemistry professor who was appointed to head the PASP since 2007, said it was for a win-win situation.
“We wanted to have excellent students taking up Bachelor programmes in the field of agriculture and related areas, and the PASP programmes allow us to recruit them even before they get their SPM results.
“By getting straight into UPM after their Form Fives, we hope that they can take to our university life and environment, stay and excel in pursuing their first degree, in the field of agriculture and other areas!
“Our PASP students need not go through the UPU (or the central university entrance processing centre) but straight into UPM after their foundation programme,” she said.
Given their success thus far, she said PASP has started another three-semester foundation programme for foreign students. This initiative is to help support the internationalisation programme of UPM.
Prof Mahiran said all the instruction for the PASP programmes is in English and she hoped that the Form Five students and SPM holders would consider the foundation science route to UPM for their tertiary education.
The centre presently has 600 students enrolled under the mainstream and 100 for the fast track programme.
Some 2,000 students had graduated from PASP since 2005 and many of them are gainfully working after securing their Bachelor degrees from UPM.
Application for the fast track programme for the January 2014 intake is now open. Qualified students are welcome to apply through PASP. -- UPM
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