Filmmaker's inspiring APEL.C journey at UTAR

Victor Chen’s journey from the film industry back to academia showcased the efficacy of UTAR’s Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning for Credit Award (APEL.C), which allows professionals to convert their work experience into academic credits, easing their transition into university life. Victor Chen’s story highlights how APEL.C enabled him to blend his extensive industry expertise with his academic goals, making his return to education both practical and inspiring.

Victor Chen

Victor Chen’s journey with UTAR first started when he enrolled in his first-year degree programme in 2014. However, he soon left to immerse himself in the film industry, gaining extensive experience over the next seven to eight years. His work as a scriptwriter, director, and producer earned him recognition and awards, showcasing his talent and dedication. Despite his success, Victor Chen felt a growing desire to return to academia, inspired by his interactions with industry colleagues who also served as lecturers. “When I was invited to different universities to share my experiences, it came very naturally to me,” Victor Chen explained. “I realised that teaching could be something I pursue. It felt effortless to share my knowledge, discuss film-making, and explain the art of storytelling.”

Determined to complete his degree and eventually pursue his master’s degree, Victor Chen consulted with Mr Anthony Gandolfo Miranti Jr, the Head of Department of Media in the Faculty of Creative Industries to identify the best pathway for re-joining UTAR. The discussion led him to discover the innovative APEL.C process, which became instrumental in his academic journey. “In 2014, I completed about 11 to 12 subjects, amounting to almost 20 to 30 credits that could be transferred. I went through the credit transfer process and reviewed the new programme structure, which is how APEL.C emerged as another viable option.”

APEL.C recognises and accredits prior experiential learning relevant to a student’s course of study. For Victor Chen, this meant that his extensive experience in screenwriting, industrial training, and advertising copywriting could be translated into academic credits. Through APEL.C, he successfully transferred credits, easing his academic load and aligning his practical knowledge with his degree requirements. “The APEL.C process was incredibly beneficial,” Victor Chen reflected. “It helped me realign with academic expectations and prepared me for assignments and exams. It was a crucial step in my transition back to student life.”

Returning to UTAR, Victor Chen not only embraced his role as a student but also took on leadership roles, such as becoming the UTAR Film Club chairperson. The position allowed him to bridge the generational gap between himself and the younger students. Engaging in activities like film screenings and workshops, Victor Chen found common ground with younger students, enriching his own perspective and learning from theirs. He said, “It’s inspiring to hang out with the younger students. They encourage me and offer fresh perspectives. It’s rejuvenating and makes me feel more alive.”

Victor Chen’s involvement at UTAR extended beyond traditional coursework. Participating in the Undergraduate Research Scheme (URS), he collaborated on a 360 VR and VR shoot project, a novel experience that expanded his technical skills. This opportunity, coupled with his continued work in the industry, underscored his commitment to both academic and professional excellence. “Three of the short films I produced with different directors made it into the Top 10 in BMW Shorties 2023. This experience reminded me that, even as a student, I can still actively contribute to the industry. It has reignited my passion for film-making and strengthened my resolve to continue working in the field.”

Victor Chen (left) receiving Outstanding Talent Award from UTAR President Ir Prof Dato’ Dr Ewe Hong Tat in 2023

Furthermore, Victor Chen was awarded the UTAR Talent Scholarship, covering his full tuition fees. Additionally, his significant contributions earned him the UTAR Outstanding Talent Award, emphasising his dedication and influence. He expressed his gratitude for the support he received from his lecturers and the opportunity to apply for the scholarship, stating that the 100% tuition waiver greatly alleviated his financial burden.

For Victor Chen, the most valuable aspect of his academic journey was the relationships he built with lecturers and students. These connections, along with the diverse experiences he gained, were treasures he deeply valued. He shared, “The friendships and experiences I’ve had at UTAR are priceless. Being a student again has been incredibly rewarding, both personally and professionally.”

Victor Chen’s APEL.C journey at UTAR highlights the importance of recognising and valuing professional experience within academic frameworks. His story is a powerful example of how APEL.C can facilitate a seamless transition from industry to academia, enriching both personal growth and professional development.

Click here to view Victor Chen’s profile.

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