Many Sarawakians do not know that Universiti Pertahanan Nasional Malaysia (UPNM) is the only public university in the country that pays monthly salaries to its undergraduates.
The salaries range between RM1,206.96 and RM1,553.04.
Besides, the undergraduates are entitled to allowances and bonuses while their tuition and accommodation fees are fully sponsored.
On top of that, they would be offered a job in the Defence Ministry immediately after their graduation.
However, there is something that the undergraduates have to sacrifice.
For instance, they would not be able to enjoy long semester breaks like other undergraduates.
They also have to serve in the Defence Ministry for between 10 years and 13 years.
UPNM assistant registrar Mohd Amirul Zzaki Razmi explained yesterday that the undergraduates were required to involve in military training during semester breaks.
“Nevertheless, they would be given one week holiday before and after the training,” he told thesundaypost when met at the 2010 Higher Education Carnival at Permata Exhibition Centre here.
He said UPNM, which was established in November 2006, offered engineering, science and technology, resource management and medical courses.
The university, located at Sungai Besi Camp in Kuala Lumpur, was the former Akademi Tentera Malaysia (ATMA), he said.
“We are the only university in Malaysia that pays our students salaries, and our yearly intake is only 500 students. However, the enrolment of students from Sarawak and Sabah is still low.
“I believe many East Malaysian students do not know about UPNM, even teachers may not know about it. UPNM is one of the universities governed by the Higher Education Ministry, but its students are fully sponsored by the Defence Ministry,” he explained.
He said the university had less than 50 Sarawak students since its first enrolment, adding that its current student population was about 1,700.
“Last year, 12 candidates from Sarawak were called for interview, but only eight qualified to be enrolled in our one-year foundation programme,” he said.
The interview was conducted at Penrissen Camp near here.
The seven to nine-day interview which included physical and fitness tests was carried out in April every year in various military camps throughout the country, Amirul said.
Another UPNM assistant registrar Muhammad Khaidzir Lokman, meanwhile, said 80 per cent of the university’s students were male.
He pointed out that UPNM was different from other public universities where it had only one intake per year, which was in July every year.
“Besides the one-year foundation progrmme, the length of study ranges from three to five years. Medical students have to complete five years of study, engineering students four years and students of other courses three years.
“While in the university, the undergraduates are also required to pass at least six military trainings,” he added.
For further information, the public can visit the booth of UPNM at the carnival.
The two-day education carnival which ends today (Feb 21) is themed ‘Jom Masuk U’.
It is an annual event organised by the Higher Education Ministry and supported by the Education Ministry.
About 100 higher learning institutions and organisations are participating in the carnival which has received overwhelming response from students and the public.
Students, led by their teachers, were seen collecting brochures and gathering information from different booths as early as 8.30am yesterday.
Two teachers from SMK Bandar Semariang here were spotted busily discussing and gathering information from different booths.
Suzi Runis, 32, said she and her colleague Lydia Karlos led 29 Form 5 students to the exhibition.
The counsellor teacher said the fair provided a good platform for students to be exposed to various higher learning institutions in the country. She added that such exhibitions not only benefitted students, but also teachers.
“The exhibition gives students latest information about various universities in Malaysia. It is very helpful. Sometimes, the information teachers have is limited.
“Maybe the ministry could consider organising such exhibitions slightly early so that students could have better preparation and more time to think about their future,” she added.
SMK Lundu fifth former Shazziela Abdul Rahman, 17, said her visit to the exhibition was to get detailed information about qualification and the process to enter university.
“I’ll be sitting for the SPM this year. I wish to be a medical doctor or a teacher. I think the fair is useful in terms of enlightening me about the courses and programmes offered by the universities,” she said.
She was accompanied to the fair by her family members.
For Nur Ezzati Hamdin, 18, she did not miss the chance to visit the fair for other possible choices.
The former student of SMK Agama Tun Ahmad Zaidi, who is currently waiting for her SPM result, said she aimed to be a geologist.
“I’m here to have a look at various universities. Actually, I hope I could further my studies at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) in Shah Alam,” she added.
Abdul Taib Yakup, 41, the father of a girl who is waiting for her STPM result, said the fair provided useful information to his daughter.
Abdul Taib, from Kota Smarahan said he knew about the fair through a radio programme.
“I encourage my daughter to visit the fair. It is important that she knows about different choices so that she could make a wise decision after she get her results,