In attempts to make their universities more attractive to prospective students, many are now looking into revamping their programs, as well as offering accelerated programs leading to a Master’s degree within 4 years. This was revealed recently by NTU provost Bertil Andersson. NUS and SMU have also announced dual-track programs as well as increasing enrolment places respectively. Indeed, changes are beginning to kick in in an attempt to attract and retain students who may also be considering an overseas education.

However, it is not only the universities which are feeling the heat. Polytechnics such as Ngee Ann Polytechnic is planning to tie up with Chapman University to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts for creative producing. Nanyang Polytechnic, while not reported in the article, is also typing up with another university to offer a degree program in marketing.

While it might seem that every tertiary institution (polytechnics are considered tertiary institutions that primarily offer diploma programs) are rushing in to offer better and revamped programs, not every student is expected to take on these new programs. Eventually it will be up to the student’s interest and financial ability to embark on these programs. A friend of mine had a diploma in arts but instead of pursuing a degree in fine arts in New York, he has decided to stay on to gain more experience and exposure instead of moving on too quickly.

Indeed, a degree is not always required for someone to be successful. In some fields, skills may be preferred over a piece of paper. However, in a paper-chasing society like Singapore, many may prefer to go after a piece of paper rather than follow their "non-paper-requiring" passion. Of course, friends and parents will always play a role. However, at the tender age of 19 (19 for girls; 21 for most guys because of National Service), it may some times be difficult to decide what one wants to do in the future.

SINGAPORE’S three universities are planning major changes to their programmes to make themselves more attractive to students.

The plans include expanded overseas exchange programmes, revamped post-graduate degrees and an interdisciplinary approach to subjects like engineering.

The proposed changes were announced yesterday during the release of a preliminary report on the expansion of the university sector. The aim is to give university places to 30 per cent of each year’s cohort by 2015, up from 25 per cent now.

Officials highlighted a National University of Singapore plan to start a two-track engineering programme in 2011. Its courses will be designed to equip students with breadth of knowledge so that they can work in the science and engineering industries. The school also wants to equip engineering students with fundamentals in design and management.

Next year, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is scheduled to launch an accelerated engineering programme leading to a master’s degree in four years. The programme aims to produce engineers who will become industrial and business leaders.

NTU provost Bertil Andersson, who sat on the committee that drew up the report, said an interdisciplinary approach in engineering will help students find work in other fields. ‘We still need classical engineers who can build a boat and an aeroplane, but many engineers no longer go into businesses which they used to do.’

Also announced was a Singapore Management University plan to raise the number of places for new undergraduates to 2,100 by 2015, up from 1,600 now.

The committee also recommended that more niche degree programmes be offered through tie-ups between polytechnics and specialised institutions.

The polytechnics plan to forge 10 such links by 2010, with places for about 460 students, or double the current intake. The aim is to create 700 places by 2015.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic announced on Monday that it is tying up with Chapman University to offer a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in creative producing. The school is also pursuing another degree tie-up in advertising and marketing communications.

Senior Minister of State for Education and Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew said: ‘These tie-ups allow our polytechnic graduates to go on and pursue higher education here in Singapore at fees that are affordable because they are highly subsidised.’

Source: Straits Times Interactive,

Article extracted on 25th June 2008

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