There are many pre-university programmes offered nowadays besides the A Levels and the International Baccalaureate (IB). Letitia Lim describes the main features of other popular pre-university programmes available in Malaysia. 

American Degree Programme (ADP)

The ADP is a pre-university course that is equivalent to the 12th grade in American high schools. In this programme, it is compulsory for students to take up core subjects that are relevant to the degree they wish to pursue in the future. In addition, they are required to complete a number of elective subjects which allow them to explore their interests. It takes a student a period of one to two years to complete the ADP, with the final grade being made up of 70% coursework and 30% examination. Furthermore, the ADP utilises the cumulative grade point average (CGPA) as its grading system, where 4.0 is the highest grade. Students who enjoy working in groups and making presentations might want to consider the ADP. Fees for the ADP range between RM38,000 and RM62,000 depending on the duration of the course. The ADP is a great choice for those wishing to pursue their studies in North American universities. 

SACE International 

Introduced in 1982, SACE International is the most popular Australian pre-university programme among Malaysian students. Its popularity may be attributed to its short duration, only taking a year to complete, and a balanced assessment method of 50% examination and 50% coursework. SACE International also appeals to students as it offers flexible schedules and a wide selection of broad-based subjects to choose from. Examples of subjects include English Literacy Studies, Information Technology, Psychology and Specialist Mathematics. Those who successfully complete the SACE International programme will be granted the South Australian Certificate of Education and a Record of Achievement. In addition, the fees for SACE International are quite reasonable ranging between RM15,000 and RM25,000. SACE International is suitable for individuals who want a balanced curriculum that is not only recognised by Australian universities, but by certain local institutions as well. 

Western Australian Matriculation (AUSMAT)

Another popular Australian matriculation programme in Malaysia is AUSMAT. Similar to SACE International, it takes a maximum of 14 months to complete and has an assessment method of 50% examination and 50% coursework. AUSMAT is equivalent to the Year 12 curriculum of Western Australia and requires students to take up five subjects throughout the course. Students can choose subjects from a wide range of disciplines such as Psychology, Business Management and Mathematics. AUSMAT awards the Western Australian Certificate of Education (WACE) to students upon successful completion of the programme. Annual fees for AUSMAT are reasonable, with institutions charging anywhere between RM14,000 and RM26,000. Students who want a globally recognised certificate and an education that focuses on student development should consider enrolling in AUSMAT. 

Canadian Pre-University Programmes (CPU)

There are two options in Malaysia for those wishing to study in Canada: the Canadian Pre-University Programme (CPU) and the Canadian International Matriculation Programme (CIMP).Both have a duration of 12 to 15 months and grant the Ontario Secondary School Diploma (OSSD) to students upon completion. In order to receive the OSSD, students are required to pass six subjects in addition to an English course. Subjects students can consider taking up include Canadian and International Law, Dramatic Arts, Physics and The Writer’s Craft. Besides examinations, students have to fulfil at least 10 hours of community service in order to graduate. With an estimated annual tuition fee of RM25,000, Canadian pre-university programmes are designed for those who prefer coursework to final examinations and want to pursue their degree in a Canadian university. 

University Foundation Studies

Foundation studies are preparatory courses that help students transition into an undergraduate degree of their choice conveniently. In addition, some foundation courses are part of ‘twinning’ or transfer programmes with local or overseas partner universities. Taking a year to complete, foundation courses are assessed through a combination of assignments, quizzes and examinations. Popular disciplines that have foundation courses include engineering, architecture and business. Students who do not want to study anything specific can opt for broader foundation courses such as Foundation in Arts or Science. Depending on the institution, foundation courses may cost between RM9,000 and RM15,000 annually. Individuals who have a clear idea of what they want to study and where they would like to study, and want to complete their degree fairly quickly, should consider enrolling in a foundation programme. 

Diploma Programmes

Other than foundation courses, there are diploma programmes which students with specific needs could pursue. A step lower than a Bachelor’s degree, a diploma programme offers a course of study higher than the certificate-level courses offered by many institutions in Malaysia. A diploma strikes a balance between practical work and theory. Students are assessed in the form of assignments, tests, quizzes and examinations. Examples of diploma programmes include the Diploma in Mass Communication and the Diploma in Nursing. Taking an average of two years to complete, those who hold a diploma may skip to Year 2 of a degree programme in the same field or join the workforce. Diploma programmes are popular in Malaysia as they are more affordable than degree courses and provide a quicker path to a career. In addition, a diploma is not as academically challenging as a degree and has lower entry requirements. 

Before deciding on a particular pre-university programme, there are a few important things you will need to consider. It is wise to think ahead and to take into account the degree programme you want to pursue when choosing your pre-university course. In addition, you have to ask yourself whether you want to study locally or abroad. Your academic performance in secondary school and your own learning preferences will also need to be considered when choosing a pre-university programme. Finally, the pre-university programme you choose must be within your means and not a financial burden.