Yangon Technological University and Mandalay Technological University will reopen as centres of excellence later this year, the government announced last week, as part of changes that will see direct-entry engineering degrees resume.
The two universities, which were closed after the 1988 protests, will offer six-year Bachelor of Engineering degrees. The Ministry of Education plans to upgrade the two universities to ASEAN standards within five years.
Students who achieve at least 450 marks in this year’s matriculation exams will be eligible to enrol in the engineering degree program, while those with more than 360 marks will be able to attend a three-year Associate of Government Technology Institute (AGTI) course, offered at Government Technical Institutes. From there, top-ranking students will be eligible attend a Bachelor of Engineering program in their state or region and the highest achievers will be allowed to undertake a masters degree or PhD in Yangon or Mandalay, the report said.
Some AGTI graduates whose marks are not high enough to enrol in the Bachelor of Engineering program will instead be eligible to undertake a Bachelor of Technology.
Previously, there was no direct entry into Bachelor of Engineering courses. Students instead had to attend an AGTI course for two years and if they achieved high enough marks could transfer into a two-year Bachelor of Technology program.
The highest-ranked students in the Bachelor of Technology course were then able to continue their study for a further two years and obtain a Bachelor of Engineering degree. Ma Ngu Ngu, a Bachelor of Technology student, said she believes the change will lead to better-trained graduates.
“Students who don’t get enough marks to enter Yangon Technological University or Mandalay Technological University will come and attend Government Technical Institutes so the entry marks will be higher … because in the past, students at the institutes can pass exams easily. But starting from this year, the rules are strict and the students have to try harder,” she said. “This is good for the emergence of higher standard universities.”
One Government Technical Institute teacher, who asked not to be named, said the reopening of the two universities will encourage high achieving students to pursue engineering and also raise standards at the institutes.
“This is a positive step for education reform. This system can screen the capacity of the students. In the past, students can pass the AGTI exam easily and this could lead to unqualified graduates,” the teacher said.
“Traditionally, most of the students who get high marks attend the medical university but now students with high marks will attend YTU and MTU and this will be a positive for businesses that rely on engineers.”