Sunday 28 September 2014

Change of Education Policy for Aspiring SPM Students in Malaysia - will it flip-flop again?

Exclusive Report from The Star, Malaysia
28 Sep 2014

A worthless piece of paper
PETALING JAYA: School leavers will no long­er be able to use forecast Sijil Pelajaran Ma­­laysia (SPM) results to enter pre-university or foundation programmes from Ja­­nuary.
The Education Ministry notified heads of private institutions of higher education that such results would no longer be accepted as admission qualifications, unlike in previous years.
The circular shocked the private education industry, which has over the past 30 years, relied on admissions based on forecast results.
Students sit for the SPM examinations in November and results are usually released at the end of March the following year. Each year, about 30,000 students register using their school trial exam results for pre-university programmes that start in January.
Representatives of the Malaysian Associa­tion of Private Colleges have met senior Education Ministry officials over the issue.
Mapcu president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh said the association had appealed for the decision to be reviewed.
Doing so, he said, would be good for the private education fraternity, including members of the National Association of Pri­vate Educational Institutions (Napei).
“We have presented the issues and implications to the Education Ministry officials,” he told The Star.
Dr Parmjit said the discussions included the impact on students, especially those who had decided on what they wanted to do and highly motivated on furthering their studies. They would now be held back for a few months and might get into unproductive activities or idle away their time.
Dr Parmjit said students who planned to pursue their studies in Australia and New Zealand might lose a year because of the later start of their matriculation or foundation courses, thus delaying their Bachelor degree courses.
He said Mapcu acknowledged that one of the conditions stated in all letters of appro­val for private higher education institutions was the entry qualification for each course.
“In the case of foundation courses, the minimum standard of SPM results is specified and that there is no provision made for forecast results within those conditions and, therefore, admitting students based on forecast results is considered an infringement of these conditions.
“However, the admission of students with forecast results has been the practice in the past three decades and allowed by the mi­­nistry.
“It was even encouraged during the mid 1990s when the country was plagued with the lepak and bohsia problems to ensure that post-school students were occupied productively,” he added.
Dr Parmjit said forecast results were highly representative of actual official ones and if reliability of the results were question­ed, the solution should be to specify higher grades of attainment for such results.
Deputy Education Minister P. Kamala­nathan said Mapcu had submitted a proposal on this issue to Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.
“We are reviewing it,” he said.
Related story:

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Explore China - Top 10 most beautiful autumn sceneries in China

Top 10 most beautiful autumn sceneries in China

1. Jiuzhaigou Valley
Jiuzhai Valley (九寨沟) is one of the most wonderful landscapes in China. Located in southwest China's Sichuan province, it is well known for its multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes and many nearby natural sightseeing place. It was inscribed as a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1992 [Photo/]

2. Kanas 
Kanas (喀纳斯), in a valley in the Altai Mountains, is located near the very northern tip of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. "Kanas" is a Mongolian word meaning "lake in the canyon." The area is famous for its mysterious and wild landscape and especially its legendary lake.

When September comes, Kanas enters a golden season. The plants covered by the golden sunshine, the lake in the near distance, the snow-capped mountains in the backdrop, the small wooden houses and the strolling herds of cattle and sheep, create a fairytale view. [Photo/]

September is believed to be the best time to visit Kanas.

3. Ejin
The Ejin Banner (额济纳), in North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, is at its most beautiful from the end of September to mid-October, when the golden Euphrates poplars and magnificent desert scenery turn Ejin into a fascinating destination for photographers and travelers.[Photo/]

4. Tachuan Village
Tachuan village is situated at the foot of Huangdui Mountain and beside Qishu Lake . Ancient dwellings with black tiles, white walls, sweeping roofs and elegant upturned eaves are built down the hillsides and hide among plants with exuberant foliage. A clear stream flows down from a mountain, winds through the village and runs to Qishu Lake. [Photo/]

5. Bashang grassland
Bashang grassland (坝上草原), lying in southeast part of north China's Inner Mongolian Plateau, is an important part of the plateau. [Photo/]

6. Miyaluo, Sichuan
Miyaluo in Lixian County, Sichuan Province, has the largest area of autumn leaves in China, covering almost 3,700 square kilometers, making it 180 times more than Xiangshan Park in Beijing.
In the Tibetan language Miyaluo means “a place with breathtaking scenery.” The place is hidden in Zagunao Valley and inhabited by the Tibetan and Qiang ethnic minorities.

Maples, birch trees, pines and larches add seasonal richness to the forests of Zagunao Valley. As autumn comes, the mountains are covered in a blaze of red and gold. [Photo/]

7. Daocheng County
Daocheng (稻城), a county in the southwest of Sichuan Province, is mainly inhabited by Tibetans. Broad valleys, lush pastures and imposing mountains make the county a fantastic place for visit and hike.Surrounding by snow mountains and forests, Daocheng is often referred to as "the last pure land in our blue planet." The three-day hike from Daocheng to Yading takes you through some of the quietest and purest natural scenery on earth. [Photo/]

8. Qixia Mountain
Qixia Mountain (霞山), also called the Sheshan Mountain, is located some 22 kilometers (13.67 miles) northeast of Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province. It covers an area of over 860 hectares and has three peaks -- Dragon Peak, Tiger Peak and Fengxiang Peak, with the highest peak located at 286 meters.

Covered by 750 hectares of various maple trees, the mountain can boast some fascinating autumn scenery. Every year, around mid-October, the whole mountain will become a colorful carpet of red, green and golden maple leaves, making it a wonderful place to enjoy the best colors of the season. [Photo/]

9. Fragrant Hills
Xiangshan Park (香山公园), also known as the Forest Park, is located on the eastern sides of the Western Hills, approximately 10 kilometers to the west of Beijing.

Due to its high elevation and dense cover of trees, spring arrives late in the area and summer days are always pleasantly cool. The best time to visit the park is late fall, when the smoke tree leaves turn red. The trees make the grandest display of all. There are also groves of apricots, pears, peaches and lilacs adding their fragrance, and the more solemn evergreens, whose contribution to the local beauty is unrestricted by seasonal changes. [Photo/]

10. Mount Lu
Lushan Mountain (庐山), towering over the southern bank of the Yangtze River, is situated to the south of Jiujiang City. It covers an area of 300 square kilometers (30,000 hectares), with Dahanyang Peak, its highest summit, rising up 1,474 meters above sea level.

With its imposing peaks, peculiar stone formations, unique waterfalls, abundant trees and flowers and many historical sites, the mountain is labeled one of the most famous mountains in the country and was included on the UNESCO world heritage list in 1996. When springtime arrives, the trees in the area turn green once again and the flowers begin to blossom. The mountain is the best place to get the springtime back in your step and enjoy the colorful summer scenery. [Photo/]


Tuesday 23 September 2014

International students eye China to expand their horizon!

International students eye China, not just for language this time

On August 25, 24-year old American Chris Campbell landed in Beijing, excited, looking forward to life as an international student here. But he was also well aware that he would face six to eight hours of classes each day, with another four to five hours of preparation as well.
Originally from a small town, he always had a clear career plan, so the senior student at University of South Carolina made the decision to come to one of China's top universities,Tsinghua University, to study Chinese law. "In America there are so many lawyers and I wanted to find a way to stand out from my peers. And, not so many people know about Chinese law."

China is seeing a growing number of international students who are convinced that this study experience will increase their value on the job market. According to statistics released by the Ministry of Education, there were more than 356,000 students in 2013 from 200 countries and regions studying at China's 746 universities, research institutions and other teaching institutions, 8.6 percent more than in 2012.

Driven by a knowledge-based economy and demand for highly skilled human resources,students choosing to study abroad increased from 1.3 million in 1990 to 4.3 million in 2011 around the world, according to UNESCO statistics. Traditional destinations for overseas education in East Asia and the Pacific like Australia and Japan are facing increased competition from newcomers including China. China has the largest number of students going abroad for study, and now it is also among the top destination countries. China ranks at ninth place with 2 percent of all mobile students worldwide studying there, with the top three being the US, UK and France.

Beyond language study
Campbell made decisions about his career according to the principle that "There's no business without law. No business without China."

"You have to be able to work with China. In order to be successful in business in the future,you have to include China." Upon graduation, Campbell intends to get a position in an American law firm, which will hopefully station him somewhere in China. "There are a lot of opportunities, a lot of money to be made and a lot of people to meet here."

Before and after he made the decision, Campbell did his research about other American lawyers who studied in China, and found that "many of them find good jobs and are paid well, aside from the fact that in general it's very hard for lawyers to find a job in America."

Another important factor that helped Campbell make up his mind was money. "Because of the living expenses, the tuition and the scholarship I got here, I am saving 10,000 dollars just by coming here."

"I think a lot of international students see China as a land of opportunity and potential,"he concluded.

Thierry Titcheu, 26, came from Cameroon to the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei, Anhui Province, six years ago to study software engineering. He is now studying a Masters program at Tsinghua University and will graduate next July.

Drawn to China by its kung fu movies, Titcheu now has more practical things to think about. The hardest part was the fierce competition he went through trying to get the opportunity to come here and receive a scholarship, along with the language barrier - all his courses are in Chinese. But now he feels his efforts will pay off, because he has found that many Chinese companies are willing to hire foreigners.

He has just started an internship writing computer programs for Ali pay, the online payment service of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. "Finding good jobs depends on the university. The experience is also important," he said.

Titcheu is feeling confident as graduation draws near, and is glad he chose a major that was not the Chinese language. "Tsinghua is the best in China, and among the top [in software engineering] in the world … Foreigners are here for all types of majors. I think Chinese language has maybe the most."

Compared to the past, more and more international students like Campbell and Titcheu have taken an interest in a wider variety of majors than language skills.

In 2013, there were 147,890 international students who received academic education, accounting for 41 percent of the total number. Xiong Bingqi, deputy director of the 21st Century Education Development Research Institute, said that compared to the past, there are more students from Western countries studying academic degrees.

In 2013, there was significant growth in the number of students coming from Africa, Europe and Oceania, with increases of 23 percent, 13 percent and 8 percent respectively.

Xiong pointed out that while both the number of foreign students and the variety of courses they are studying are increasing, the majority of them are still studying Chinese or Traditional Chinese Medicine. In addition, most come from Asian countries or attend short-term programs. "This tells us that the Chinese universities are not as competitive as we think in the international education market yet," he said.

Finding a sweet spot
For many students, diplomas and qualifications are not enough. Work experience in the industry and language skills are the most valued in the international job market.

Shiba Akinori, a 23-year-old Japanese student, is excited about getting his bachelor's diploma in finance in Shanghai in about six months. He applied for a one-semester extension, mostly due to language difficulties. "The courses are in English and Chinese, so they are quite complicated for me," he said.

However, Shiba doesn't think the diploma itself will be helpful for his future career. The fact that he will have actually lived and studied in China will be of far more significance, he said, adding that he has already been offered a job by a Japanese human resources company in Shanghai.

Shiba attributes his success in securing a coveted position before graduation to the fact that he had completed three internships at related positions. "And I think what they value the most are my foreign language skills (Chinese and Japanese)."

Xiong said decisions by foreign students about whether to come to China are based on whether they want to work in China or with Chinese people, and their major. "It's not for a diploma. A diploma from a Chinese university is not fundamentally valuable for them."

Lincoln van der Westhuizen, from South Africa, has been studying in China for about one year, majoring in business journalism at a Masters program.

After getting his Bachelor's in radio journalism, Westhuizen worked as a sports journalist for one year before coming to China. He is eyeing a career in sports marketing, which he thinks is a yet-to-be-thriving industry with a lot of opportunities in China.

"A lot of my friends aren't necessarily getting visas out of internships, which makes it more difficult," he said. Westhuizen said that many foreigners he has met chose to take English teaching jobs as it is often difficult to get their dream job and a work visa at the same time immediately after graduation.

According to regulations by the public security authorities, any company which wants to hire foreigners needs to apply to the labor authorities for permits, which the foreigners need in order to apply for work visas. Requirements often include at least two years of work experience, which can be tough for the graduates to get before they study in China.

Foreign students who don't have the required experience have to consider more than just dealing with the bureaucracy, and the possibility they will have an employer who cannot keep their promises. "Basically I plan to stay here, but it's getting harder and harder to get visas. So my plan is to come back to South Africa and then come back later," said Westhuizen.

Challenges and prosperity
According to plans by the Ministry of Education, China aims to become the biggest destination country in Asia for overseas education by 2020, with half a million students studying on the Chinese mainland, among whom 150,000 should be studying for higher education diplomas.

But overall, the number of students studying at Chinese universities isn't necessarily increasing. Aside from China's declining numbers of youth, particularly when compared to the number of older citizens, there is also the fact that fewer students are choosing to take the gaokao (college entrance examination).

Numbers of students taking the gaokao have consistently fallen since 2008 with this year being the only exception - there was a 3 percent bump.

But the number of Chinese students studying abroad has increased by nearly 20 percent each year.

"If the universities cannot keep their own students and attract high-quality Chinese students, how can they attract foreign students?" asked Xiong.

In 2013, more than 33,000 international students in China received government scholarships, accounting for 9.35 percent of the international students. This represented an increase of 16 percent.

But Xiong pointed out that the country's goals cannot be accomplished merely through promotion, expanding enrolment and more scholarships. "Many universities adopt all sorts of methods to increase the so-called size of the international student body, and the internationalization of local schools, including providing more scholarships, lower examination standards and entrance thresholds, but this causes students to be of a lower caliber."

"The solution should be building a modern higher education system, in line with international standards and allowing our universities to have autonomy so as to fully integrate into international competition within higher education."

Source: People's daily online

Monday 22 September 2014

Explore China - In the eyes of foreigners, which Chinese cities are most attractive?

Most attractive Chinese cities for foreigners

With 5,000 years of history, China is one of the world’s oldest and richest continuous cultures. Chinese culture is endlessly fascinating. A huge, diverse country with a long, long history, there are so many fascinating aspects to explore. China is not just a different country, it's a different world. China is a mysterious country with diversities of ancient culture yet is a modern, vibrant and dynamic country. Therefore, visit and explore China will certainly provide you with great deal of a unique travel experience.

Editor's note: China has so many amazing places to visit that it is sometimes difficult to choose among them. What's your favorite city in China? Forum readers name the places or attractions that one just must not miss on a trip to China. You're also welcome to leave your comments.
Allen (UK)
Beijing is one of my top places on the list because it is the most visited place. It is ideal for history lovers. It is the center of politics, vibrant culture, it's an ancient city in China with rich history and the home of top attractions like the Temple of Heaven, Great Wall, Lama Temple, Beihai Park, Beijing Capital Museum and so forth.
Foreign tourists take a selfie photo at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing on August 21, 2014.
Letzebuerger (Germany)
Tianjin, nice old buildings European style, friendly people and very secure. For any European it feels like home. Hard to believe I'm in China!
A foreign tourist experiences the traditional Chinese wedding customs at a theme park in Tianjin
on Sept 10, 2011.
gooddog (Canada)

I vote for Wuyishan (武夷山市) for its touch of nature, fresh air and mountain, Shanghai for shopping and entertainment, and Guangzhou for astonishing cuisine & street markets.
German wine queen Mandy Groarten smiles in front of the view on the Wuyi mountains
in Wuyishan, China, on October 28, 2010.
Linz (Austria)
I have to say Kunming, love the lake and the surrounding scenery, the weather is certainly milder than the coast. Good people, good food and one of the best experiences of my life.

People enjoy the fun during Watering Festival in Kunming, capital city of Yunnan Province May 2, 2006.
Bobert (Australia)
My favorite city in China is Yangshuo (阳朔县) in Guangxi Province. Actually it's not a city, just a town. It's very relaxed and comfortable. Almost everyone speaks at least a little English. Shanghai would be my favorite city. It's cosmopolitan and modern but still retains many elements of its long history. Fenghuang (鳳凰) in Hunan Province is another relaxed town to visit.
Vistors sit on a bamboo raft on a flooded street after heavy rain, in Yangshuo, south Chinas Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, June 13, 2008.
Alec (UK)
Of all the cities I have been to in China, Wuhan has to be the best!! Life style is fantastic.
A French bridegroom and his Chinese bride during the traditional Chinese wedding in front of the Huanghe Tower in Wuhan, Hubei province, October 15, 2005.
Richard (US)
I have previously visited Hong Kong, Macao, Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Tianjin, Kunming, Lijiang, and Guilin/Yangshuo, always as a tourist. Defining a favorite city is difficult. China is such a vast country. I remember sitting in the square in Lijiang(丽江), watching Naxi people dance to local folk music and the expressions on the faces of the old men and women. The old town, perhaps restored for the many tourists that visit annually, is still a place to behold. Old town is a maze of narrow, twisting, cobbled brick streets lined with shop after shop. The layout of the city, with its many rushing streams that parallel the narrow walkways, adds to the experience. Buy a steamed bun or 2 or at 6 in the morning and sit by a fast running stream of water in Lijiang!
Some girls of Naxi group dance in the old town of Lijiang, southwest Chinas Yunnan province on Oct 6, 2004.
Xi'an (西安) was the first city that I visited the first time that I went to China. Xi'an was great for culture, art, and its history. Guilin is now my first choice, for its beauty and its people. There are many towns and villages close to Guilin that are easy to visit and the Li River is a great place to see spectacular scenery.
Foreign tourists take a ride on a boat on the Li River in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in March, 2007.

Friday 19 September 2014

Explore China - Top 10 richest cities in China

China Investment Networka Beijing based magazinehas come out with a list of China's wealthiest cities by local fiscal revenue in 2013.
The ranking is based on several factorsincluding size of citypopulation and industrial structure.
Local fiscal revenue is mainly spent on improving people's livelihoods and keeping public security.
No 1 Shanghai.
Local fiscal revenue in 2013: 410.95 billion yuan ($67.81 billion)
The Bund of Shanghai and its many buildings are one of the city's most important sitesJan 6, 2014. [Photo/Asianewsphoto]

No 2 Beijing.
Local fiscal revenue in 2013: 366.11 billion yuan
Tian'anmen Square in Beijing is seen in this file photo taken in 2009 . [File Photo/Asianewsphoto]  

No 3 Tianjin.
Local fiscal revenue in 2013: 207.8 billion yuan
The memorial gateway named "Jin Men Gu Liis located in the ancient culture street.
Traditional products are sold on this streetTianjinChinaDec 10, 2013. [Photo/Asianewsphoto]

No 4 Shenzhen.
Local fiscal revenue in 2013: 173.1 billion yuan
A sports center in Shenzhen BayShenzhenGuangdong provinceJune 15, 2011. [Photo/Asianewsphoto]

No 5 Chongqing.
Local fiscal revenue in 2013: 169.29 billion yuan
A view of a shopping mall decorated to mark New Year in ChongqingChina. [Photo/Asianewsphoto]

No 6 Suzhou.

Local fiscal revenue in 2013: 133.103 billion yuan
Tourists enjoy Suzhou classical gardenAn artist plays Chinese traditional musical instrument on
a boat in SuzhouJiangsu provinceOct 1, 2011. [Photo/Asianewsphoto]

No 7 Guangzhou.
Local fiscal revenue in 2013: 114.05 billion yuan
The TV Tower near Pearl River in GuangzhouGuangdong provinceJune 22, 2013. [Photo/Asianewsphoto]  

No 8 Wuhan.
Local fiscal revenue in 2013: 97.852 billion yuan
Wuhan Yangtze Grand Bridge in WuhanHubei province is seen in this file photo taken in 2007.
No 9 Hangzhou.
Local fiscal revenue in 2013: 94.5 billion yuan
Tourists walk around the West Lake in HangzhouZhejiang province in this file photo taken in 2005. [Photo/Asianewsphoto] 

No 10 Chengdu.
Local fiscal revenue in 2013: 89.85 billion yuan
People gather to see a fountain show in Tianfu Square in ChengduSichuan province in this file photo
taken in 2007. [Photo/Asianewsphoto]