IT WAS a bittersweet feeling for many young people as they left their homes last weekend and over the week to begin a new chapter at one of the country’s 20 public institutions of higher learning (IPTA) .
Having taken for granted the comforts of home and the familiar faces around them, most of the 40,000 students had to venture out for the first time to live away from their families at the hostels or “halls of residence” at the respective campuses.
On hand to welcome them were deputy vice-chancellors and senior academic staff members of the various varsities, while the freshies at universiti Malaya (UM) briefly shared the company of Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin and his deputy Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah who had visited them a few days after the registration.
All in the family: UM undergraduate Yap Hong Zhen (left) moving into her hostel with the help of her relatives.
The new academic year usually starts in July but it was different this year. The Higher Education Ministry announced that the 2011/2012 academic session for all IPTAs would start in September after Ramadan and the Hari Raya festivities.
To first-time visitors, there seemed to be some confusion at the campuses, but to varsity officials this was all “organised chaos” they could manage and deal with each year.
The campuses were filled with people from all walks of life and ages who were relatives and friends of the freshmen. Since many of them were from different areas, the vehicles also bore out-of-state registration number plates. They were all loaded with mattresses, suitcases, bags, pails and stuffed toys.
Children and adults alike laden with brooms, mops, pillows and even dried provisions were a common sight at the varsity premises as they helped the first-year students move into their respective rooms.
Wheelchair-bound Aini Azlita Ahmad Kamal,19, was among the 3,300 students who registered at UM last Sunday. She was teary-eyed as she spoke about her family in Perlis.
Getti ng help: UKM deputy vicechancellor (Student and Alumni Affairs) Prof Dr Othman A. Karim offering some tips to Indonesian students Muhammad Haidir Ali Ahmad (left) and M. Aswin Hendrayadi (second left).
“Although I lived away from home while doing my matriculation, the hostel was only a short drive away from my house.
“It is different now as I cannot see my family as often as I used to, but I should be okay after the initial homesickness,”she said.
UM undergraduates Moganaku-maresen Nadarajan, 22, from Parit Buntar, Perak and Vani Chandraseg-aran, 20, from Sepang, Selangor said that they were busy with orientation activities, two days after registration.
“We attended talks given by UM’s Reserve Officers Training Unit (Palapes) and Undergraduate Voluntary Corp (Suksis).
“The varsity’s student representative had spoken to us,” said Vani who is pursuing a Bachelor of Language and Linguistics in Tamil.
True grit: Suhazli signing the registration form at UPM.
Moganakumaresen, a Sports Science undergraduate who has plans to become a police officer, said it was important for students to be invovled in extra-curricular activities.
At Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) in Bangi, Selangor, traffic was almost at a standstill on registration day. It had 2,866 students for the new intake.
Pensioner Mohd Isa Taib travelled from Kelantan to send his youngest daughter Nur Amira Nadhirah Mohd Isa, 19, to UKM.
The youngest in her family, Nur Amira is also the second child to have made it to university.
Her oldest brother Rosmawi had taken the day off and had come all the way to help her settle in at the hostel.
“I am very excited and nervous at the same time,” says Nur Amira who is going to major in History.
Meanwhile, the hustle and bustle at the main campus of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in Penang ,saw many new students arrive as early as 6am.
New friends: Disabled students Mohd Shahrul Hafiz Norazmi and Aini Azlita Ahmad Kamal getting acquainted during the orientation at UM.
There were 3,600 new undergraduates who had registered for their respective courses at the main campus, the Engineering Campus in Nibong Tebal, the Health campus at Kubang Kerian, Kelantan and also at the USM-KLE International Medical Programme in Bangalore, India.
Family members who included parents, grandparents, children and even toddlers were seen lending the freshies a helping hand by carrrying their belongings to waiting buses that had been arranged by the varsity to take them to their respective hostels.
Amongst the new students was veteran actor and dramatist Mohd Mubarak Majid, 55, who decided to pursue a three-year course in acting and directing.
It was a dream come true for Mohd Mubarak who had wanted to further his tertiary studies, but family duties came first, he shared.
“My four children have graduated and two more are still studying. It is now my turn to make them proud,” added Mohd Mubarak.
Among the 172 international students who registered for the new academic session was Rika Yamamoto, 20, from Itami City, Hyogo in Japan.
“Malaysia is an interesting country with the different ethnic groups living together. I’m learning a lot here and am having fun,” she added.
The Universiti Putra Malaysia’s (UPM) campus grounds in Serdang seemed to have a festive air as students streamed in lugging their belongings.
Fadilah Rusaida Abdul Khaled, 19, said she was happy to enrol at UPM, as she clutched a stuffed toy in one arm while dragging a suitcase with the other.
Her father Abdul Khaled Muda said that his daughter was following in the footsteps of her siblings who graduated from various varsities in Malaysia.
“I am very proud that she made it to the threshold of higher education as well and God willing she will be just as successful as her siblings,” he said.
UPM is also playing host to two very special candidates for this year’s academic session.
Suhazli Muhamad, 19, and M. Hanif Hafizuddin Mohd Azmi, 20, both with disabilities, will be among the new occupants of its Second Residential College.
“I hope to be an inspiration to other people with disabilities,” said Suhazli who was born with deformed limbs.
Suhazli is pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and wants to make 3D films in the future but he is now focused on studying.
“After completing my degree I want to continue by pursuing a Masters programme,” said Suhazli who moves around on a motorised wheelchair sponsored by Sirim.
As for Hanif, problems with his spinal cord had caused him to be wheelchair-bound.
“I am pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Human Capital Development here at UPM” said the Kelantan lad who is also an avid gamer.
This year UPM took in 3,631 local freshmen and 142 international undergraduates in its various faculties.
UPM deputy vice-chancellor (Student Affairs and Alumni) Prof Mohd Fauzi Ramlan said that the varsity was taking on a new approach.
“In the past we treated students as if they were still in school. We prohibited them from bringing handphones during registration and orientation.
“They were herded from one location to another to participate in orientation activities,” he said.
Prof Mohd Fauzi explained that it would be best if they learnt to conduct themselves in a mature way and this year, the new students would be given the freedom to pursue and take part in activities on their own.
The number of new undergraduates this year is significantly lower than the previous year, he said as UPM wanted to have a 50-50 ratio of undergraduate students and postgraduate students.
By KANG SOON CHEN, AMINUDDIN MOHSIN and JOSEPHINE JALLEH firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday September 11, 2011
Source: The STAR Home Education