As has been noted earlier, Malaysia's six College Universities have had a namechange earlier this month, removing the College from their names. I really don't see the relevance of such an action, as the 'college' is there to serve as a reminder to students that these places are (not lousy and second class, which is what many people think) universities that are highly specialized in a particular field, such as Manufacturing in my own university.
Nevertheless, the masses have spoken and the social stigma that society has placed on these institutions have resulted in the recent decision to change the names of these six institutions. But what difference does it make?
Not a whole lot, mind you. After all, this is just an image make-over. In my case, all the students got treated to free food via a launching ceremony, after which classes resumed as usual. Here and there, you can see workers removing the old 'Kolej Universiti Teknikal Kebangsaan Malaysia' and replacing them with the new name Universiti Teknikal Malaysia Melaka. There's a lot of things that will need changing though, from the busses to our lab-coats, but largely it's a cosmetic thing.
The question is, will anything change with this decision? That is a hard question to answer. On the one hand, the Higher Education minster is saying students will now give these places a more serious consideration since it is no longer 'just' a college university (whatever that means) but the fact remains that many students are keener to enroll in such places as University College Sedaya International given the choice.
This is the reason why I suspect it's not a matter of negativity towards the name itself, but an underlying suspicion with the local government (former) university colleges. No doubt many of us studying in Form 6 have had teachers preaching us to join the Top 3 (UM, UKM, USM) while telling us to avoid the other institutions, but the truth of the matter is, that is sometimes a very generalized opinion. Of course the Top 3 command a certain amount of prestige for also coincidentally also being the three oldest public universities in Malaysia, but to be honest, not everybody will manage to get in.
What becomes of the students who aren't able to enroll in these places but are offered a more 'unknown' university instead? Would they choose to go to a private institution? What about the expenses? It's a lot of questions that needs serious, honest answers. I just hope that at the end of the day, people will realize that what matters is just pure, unadulterated education. And you can get that anywhere especially if you are willing to brave the unknown.
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