THE Student Admission Division (UPU) at the Higher Education Ministry last week released the list of Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) and equivalent applicants called for interviews for programmes in the 2020/2021 academic session at public universities and higher education institutions.
Due to current travel restrictions imposed through the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), what would customarily be face-to-face interviews or screening sessions held by the respective institutions would now be conducted fully online from June 1 to July 21.
For Universiti Malaya (UM), it would be the first time such a method is being employed to screen potential candidates into its bachelor's degree programmes.
This, according to its deputy vice-chancellor (Academic & International) Professor Dr Kamila Ghazali, is deemed to be the most suitable method given the current pandemic situation albeit for some programmes that are being offered, and not all.
"In UM, even prior to the current new normal, not all programmes require interviews to be conducted as part of the selection process. Approximately 25 per cent of the total will require interviews. So those programmes will incorporate online interviews for the coming session. Shortlisting is done ahead of time based on the various set criteria which may include a good personal statement, references and top predicted grades," she explained.
Kamila said interviews are important for some programmes; for example, Law, Languages, Education, Medicine, Dentistry and Business as they may provide insight on a candidate's suitability for a programme.
"In addition, only in interviews can oratory and communication skills be assessed. Performance based programmes like the Bachelor of Dance, Bachelor of Drama and Bachelor of Music also require interviews which may entail a demonstration of a level of performance in the field," she said.
Interviews with UM will commence on June 2 and will be held for 21 programmes offered by the varsity's Academy of Islamic Studies, Faculty of Built Environment, Faculty of Dentistry, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Law, Faculty of Medicine, Faculty of Science, Faculty of Business and Accountancy, Faculty of Languages and Linguistics as well as the Sports and Exercise Sciences Centre and Cultural Centre.
"Some faculties will provide sets of questions to the candidates. They will need to record a three-to-five minute video based on the questions which will be sent back to the faculties to be evaluated. Others will conduct real-time online interviews with respective candidates," said Kamila.
"There are various applications which can be used by the candidates -- such as Skype for Business, Whatsapp, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams. Another possibility is to record their videos and they can downscale the size by using applications such as Handbrake Open Source Video Transcorder or they can do a time lapse video by using Filmora.wondershare.com," she said.
As to the number of interviewers per panel, Kamila said there is no set number and that it would depend on the faculty and programme. "The average time for each interview is around 10 minutes. But since it will be done online, there will be flexibility given as it will depend on factors like the Internet connection.
"Online interviews should be no different from the face-to-face interviews. It is designed to determine the candidate's potential to study in Universiti Malaya. So, they need to be precise and to the point. They should be able to highlight their most important qualities and most importantly answer the questions intelligently, with clarity and confidence," she said.
At Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK), this year would be the first time for interviews to be conducted fully online to screen and select potential students into five programmes that are being offered by its Faculty of Architecture and Ekistics, Faculty of Entrepreneurship and Business, and Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
"We have conducted online interviews in the past, but only for a few selected and isolated cases where the potential students couldn't come for face-to-face interviews. This year's move is to adhere to the CMCO standard operating procedures for social distancing to flatten the curve of the spread of Covid 19," said UMK deputy vice-chancellor (Academic & International) Professor Dr Mohd Rafi Yaacob.
Asked how many seats are being offered for the programmes that require online interviews as prerequisite to admission, Mohd Rafi said the information is confidential but it sufficed to say "usually the ratio is 1:4 where out of four applied, only one respondent will be called for interview".
As to technicalities, he said for online interviews UMK will be using Google Meet. There will be one to five interviewers on each panel for each session and it is expected that the duration for each interview will be between 20 to 45 minutes.
"Candidates will be evaluated on personality, interest, creativity, maturity, readiness, ability to articulate according to the specific and general needs of the programmes applied. It will be no different from face-to-face interviews," Mohd Rafi assured.
Selection results for STPM or equivalent applicants for admission into the bachelor's degree programmes at public universities are expected to be announced on August 18.
All application results would be available through upu.mohe.gov.my and UPUPocket, which is an application that could be downloaded on mobile phones or devices. The status of application and appeal decisions could also be checked through UPUPocket.
Source: New Straits Times https://bit.ly/2Akruft