Singapore – A new programme to be offered to Polytechnic students in 2020 will allow them to graduate a year early.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung announced on July 12 (Friday) during a work-learn carnival at Nanyang Polytechnic that starting next year, a new “through-train” programme will allow polytechnic students in Singapore to get a place in a local university, be assured of a job, and graduate from university up to a year earlier than other students.
In a report by The Straits Times, Temasek Polytechnic (TP) has partnered with the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) to offer the new programme in April 2020 to 40 students in the building services and mechatronic sectors.
In recent years, universities have played a more significant role in combining work and study by offering work-study programmes at the diploma and degree levels.
The new programme, which is the first in Singapore that provides full-time diploma students with a sure path to a degree, will allow more courses to take part in the convergence of work and study.
Mechatronic diploma holders in TP could continue to study SIT’s bachelor of engineering in mechanical design and manufacturing engineering while those in the integrated facility management or green building and sustainability course from TP have the option to transfer to SUSS’ bachelor of science in facilities management.
Said students would take on three or more university units during their third year of polytechnic. From there, they could take their internship with their sponsor companies and graduate with a diploma.
While they are studying at the university, the students will also work for the company and be absorbed into full-time employment after graduation.
It will take about five years to complete the entire programme, according to the Education Minister.
“Essentially, students entering this pathway will be embarking on a Work-Study Degree Programme, but starting during their diploma programme,” said Mr Ong.
“Students will have a seamless integrated pathway that allows for a longer and more effective workplace learning stint with the same employer. They will start off as interns during their full-time diploma programme, and progress to become full-time employees during the degree phase.”
He added that companies will also benefit from the partnership as they get to work closer with the trainees before graduation and better assess their positioning after graduation as well as their career paths.
“Many polytechnic students today have the aspiration to obtain a degree. At the same time, we cannot neglect the fact that Singapore is facing a manpower shortage in some areas,” said Mr Ong.
Through the new programme, diploma holders will be able to meet their goals of obtaining a degree while providing a steady source of talent for companies, in a shorter amount of time.
Mr Ong noted that those who partake from the new pathway would graduate nine months to a year earlier from university compared to their peers.
Selection for the programme will be conducted yearly and be based on aptitude and interest in the job industry. There will be a series of interviews with the universities and companies for assessment purposes.
Students will also need to maintain an academic grade point average to continue in the programme.
According to the Education Minister, five companies and 15 students have shown interest in the programme.
To date, local universities offer 16 work-study degree programmes, with Nanyang Technological University adding six more in areas such as engineering, data science, and business analytics for the upcoming academic year, which starts in August.
Meanwhile, there are currently 123 Earn and Learn Programmes (ELPs) offered by universities from which polytechnics will release another 15 in areas such as infocomm technology and advanced manufacturing.