The Diploma in Higher Education Studies Program at Monash Malaysia

The Diploma in Higher Education Studies (DHES) program offers students the unique opportunity of a second chance at tertiary study at Monash Malaysia. 

Students who are keen to be a part of Monash but think that they have missed out can now be a part of our learning community. After all, no one gets all things right the first time around. We may have at some point regardless of reason, come close to a goal but have narrowly missed it. That shouldn’t disqualify us from paving new pathways to success in learning, and in life.

And so the DHES program is a direct pathway program to selected undergraduate degrees offered at Monash Malaysia. It was designed for those students who just missed the entry requirement for programs in Arts, Business, Computer Science or Science particularly for those whose pre-university/Year 12/equivalent scores fall below those set for selected courses.

It takes one year to complete and students must complete eight units, six compulsory units in the student’s elected stream and two in first-year core units in academic literacies development. 

Academic literacies development involves the teaching and learning of literacy abilities required by students in order to be able to read and write competently in higher education. The two compulsory units that are Learning in Higher Education and Academic Literacies introduces students to the world of research and how they can participate in it. 

They learn to locate the most reliable and reputable sources of information, a lot of which are available through the Monash Library, and also to distinguish between trustworthy and dubious information on the worldwide web. Apart from such information literacy skills, students also acquire academic reading and writing skills that are essential capacities in their respective disciplines. 

Many students think that reading is simply processing words from the left to right sides of pages, and from the top of the page to the bottom, in a repeated fashion. In fact, academic reading in higher education is much more complex. It may require students to be able to skim and scan academic texts quickly to gain the information needed, or to read comprehensively in order to understand the text completely. They should be able to distinguish which methods works best and when to use them depending on the task at hand. More than that, students are taught to think critically about any reading text and to question the nature of the information contained in them.

Academic writing is a complex skill that requires students to recognise different academic genres and write to produce written texts that mimic scholarly academic texts. First-year students need to orient themselves to writing using the academic register that is the tone often employed in academic writing in higher education, and to the structures and formats of academic texts. Once they have gained such competencies, they may find writing for assignments and other assessments much easier later on. 

The DHES program ensures that students develop these skills so that when they eventually enter year two of a bachelor program they may begin to employ such useful literacies until the completion of their degree. The ability to think, read and write critically are also skills that prized in many workplaces and are valuable lifelong learning skills.

Another unique aspect of the DHES program is the mentoring service that is made available to its students. It involves meeting with academic staff who can assist students in identifying learning hurdles and developing strategies to overcome the recognised learning difficulties. The mentor will check in with the students periodically to ensure that they are coping with the rigours of learning at university.

Some people may wonder at the title of the program. Does a diploma in higher education studies mean that I will be studying about education or higher education and about teaching? The answer is no. We have redefined the title of the program to mean a pathway into tertiary studies. Rest assure a student of the program will be undertaking units in their chosen discipline that are equivalent to year-one of a corresponding undergraduate degree. 

A graduate of the program once related to me the value of being given another opportunity to learn at Monash. The pressure of a strict and failure-intolerant environment in his home country got to him as a teenager. Due to intense competition, he missed out on an opportunity to enter university there. Attending pre-university in Malaysia, his scores ultimately fell just below Monash’s entry requirement for a Computer Science degree. He undertook the DHES program and has since completed it and is now thriving as a degree-completing student. 

Young people in particular should be given the message that failure is a part of life and that it is important to learn to become resilient in the face of setbacks. And, when it comes to learning, there are never dead ends.  

Find out more about DHES program. Please click here to read more.

By Ms Melissa Wong, Assistant Lecturer, School of Arts and Social
Sciences, Monash University Malaysia.