Real-life exposure for students

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A strong emphasis in developing structured internship programmes for students coupled with  its 5-year mission to become a “Top Employers’ Top Choice University” by 2016 has seen Taylors University busy creating various programmes to deepen the learning experience of its students and enhance the richness of their industry interactions.

In the Q&A below, Datuk Loy Teik Ngan outlines what Taylor’s has done and what it aims to do in the quest to create a world-class university.

 

Would you say that Malaysian talent has always been in demand globally or is this a recent phenomenon?

Brain drain is a global issue and it is certainly not exclusive toMalaysia. The migration of talents from third world and developing countries to developed countries is a common phenomenon due to better lifestyle and standard of living. It will continue to be an issue to Malaysia until we can resolve the attractiveness of our job market to lure the return of Malaysian professionals from overseas.

What makes Malaysian talent so attractive to companies outside of the country?

One of the many factors contributing to this is the relatively low cost of hiring of talent from third world countries and developing nations such as Malaysia, India and the  Philippines, just to name a few. Command of the English and Chinese languages are attractive factors that add favorably to Malaysian talent.

How has Taylor’s thinking around internships changed over the years and what brought about this change? It used to traditionally be something done after graduating.

A key measure of success for us is to ensure the employability of our graduates. We do this by focusing on graduate outcomes that meet industry needs. This means that our graduates must be ready to hit the ground running upon graduation. And to be able to do that they must learn in an environment that closely mirrors real life.

In today’s job market, having a university degree alone is not sufficient for job seekers. Students must possess necessary soft skill to succeed in the working world and most importantly are job-ready even before they graduate. We believe the way to go about doing this is through offering good internship programmes. Internship training is integral in increasing employability of graduates besides possessing subject mastery, leadership quality and soft skills.

Taylor’s internship programmes provide students with a work-and-learn experience that complements their classroom curriculum. This opportunity will enable them to learn how to apply theories in an industry, explore career options and gain knowledge of the working world. AtTaylor’s University, we have a dedicated Career Services team that is committed to providing quality services and programmes to assist students in planning and deciding on career pathways, preparing for interviews, and enhancing their employment opportunities via internship, among many others.

Taylor’s University has put into place various opportunities to produce graduates who can shine in their future workplaces. The university launched its 5-year mission to become a “Top Employers’ Top Choice University” by 2016. Among the many initiatives to achieve this mission, the university has put a strong emphasis in developing structured internship programmes for students. AtTaylor’s University, internship is compulsory for our homegrown programmes including Business, Communications, Engineering, Computing, Architecture and Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts.

One thing top universities do very well is to bring in industry people to teach as adjunct professors or their faculty have thriving private consulting business or they are advisors/sit on the board of companies. This then brings in real world business issues into the classroom environment. What are your thoughts on this?

I think that having people from the industry as adjunct lecturers and professors is a good way for students to learn what is really going on in the real world. For these people from the industry it is also a good way for them to “give back” and help educate youth. The benefit for these adjunct lecturers is that teaching sharpens their own minds as they prepare and research their lectures before teaching.

Bringing the industry toTaylor’s is one of the key initiatives at Taylor’s University. We place heavy emphasis on the importance of bringing the industry into campus to give students the insights of the real working world. Case studies allow students to experience actual challenges/scenarios faced by industries, giving them the opportunity to understand and give inputs based on what they have learnt in classroom.

Besides having the industry people to speak and address students, we have industry advisory panels at all Taylor’s University’s schools/faculties to enable the industry professionals to review our curriculum, ensuring it meets the industry’s demands and expectations as well as update us on the latest trends and developments. The industry professionals also help perform audit and act as external examiners for relevant courses.

In addition to students having to undergo internship, every school too has to play an active role in providing real-life exposure to students.  The university has invested heavily in applied learning facilities to further enhance the learning process for our students, beyond the standard classroom teaching:

  • Bizpod – where we provide an actual office setting for students to utilize and discuss their business plan with mentors from the industry
  • Legal Aid Centre – pro-bono legal service byTaylor’s Law School students. Students get to practice what they learn in class by providing legal advice for the needy
  • Clinical suite – Medical students get to be in a simulated environment that mirror that of an actual hospital for practical
  • Multi-themed Kitchens/ Restaurants – students get to put theory into practice in the fully equipped kitchen and serving actual customers. We also have a high capacity food production restaurant (Temptations) where we train students to work in a commercial restaurant setting
  • Applied learning hotel (Ruemz) – operated by a group of full-time employees and selected students from the School of Hospitality, Tourism and Culinary Arts, students could apply their knowledge into practice during semester break and internship period.
  • Moore Stephens Accounting Office – a Leading Accounting Firm has set up an office at Taylor’s Business School where students work on actual accounting cases for selected SMEs (free accounting services)
  • Increased focus on inculcating service learning where students don’t only immerse themselves in academic activities but also give back to the community. For a start TBS has made service learning a compulsory module in its programme. More schools are to follow suit. Watch this space!

Photo courtesy of Flickr User Brian Gurrola.

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