Saturday, October 9, 2010

Polytechnic education increasingly relevant

Source: weekend today October 9 - 10, 2010, Page 6, News
Zul Othman,, 05:55 AM Oct 09, 2010

PHOTO: A specialist teaching school for chemical and life science.

PHOTO: Zul Othman, Jetlagged @ Leceister Square, London Feb 15 2007

SINGAPORE - Even as places such as the United Kingdom and Hong Kong have either amalgamated their polytechnics with other universities or converted them to full universities, the ones in Singapore continue to thrive because of the continued demand from students and employers, Education Minister Ng Eng Hen noted on Friday.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the Polytechnic Forum 2010 forum, Dr Ng added: "Many academics I meet from these countries tell me they regret having done so."

Apart from "students' choice and employers' preferences", Dr Ng said the increased "pace of disruptive technology" meant that a polytechnic education "will be increasingly relevant for the next two decades".

Dr Ng said: "The old model where one paper qualification obtained before you entered the workforce would last the next 50 years of working life has now become less relevant. Simply because skills and knowledge become obsolete quicker."

Also, with the tertiary education sector expanding globally, "employers will expect not only paper qualifications, but will also look for employees with the relevant skills and work attitude that add to their company", said Dr Ng.

PHOTO: ©2003 TSP Architects + Planners Pte Ltd | site by riCHarDtEO. All Right Reserved

Dr Ng reiterated that, based on the reviews from employers - they have told him "the graduates are 'industry ready' the very day they graduate" - he had no doubt of the value polytechnic graduates bring to industry.

Dr Ng noted that polytechnic education will be "further strengthened" by the establishment of the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), which enables polytechnic graduates to earn industry-relevant degrees from recognised foreign universities in two years.

The SIT, which launched its courses in August with an initial intake of 500, will double its enrolment to 1,000 next year, said Dr Ng.

By 2015, it plans to admit 2,000 students each year.

Dr Ng added: "Keeping our polytechnics and SIT as separate entities but linked, strengthens both institutions. It allows each to focus on their core missions and not dilute key strengths."

Dr Ng pointed out that the hallmark of Singapore's polytechnic education is its responsiveness to the changing needs of industry. But there is still room for growth.

For example, polytechnics could expand their research and development to help industries here innovate products and services.

During a Q & A session, the 300-odd participants raised questions on topics ranging from the Government's philosophy behind education and retaining talent to overcoming Singapore's space constraints.

Dr Ng was also asked by a student on what would be the key industry to watch out for in the next two decades.

Dr Ng replied: "If I were in your shoes, I'd select an industry and see what I can offer… you need to take old concepts and add a spin to what Generation Y wants."

By Zul Othman,

PHOTO: Mable Ma Lwin Mar Soe has studied in Singapore Polytechnic. She is the youngest competitor in U Are the One Contest in Singapore.

PHOTO: The CD Lionhearters Club was officially launched on the 27th October 2009. During the event, Guest-of-Honours, Comr Peter Lim, Commissioner SCDF and Mr Tan Hang Cheong, Principal of Singapore Polytechnic, pinned the CD Lionhearter insignias on the 85-member pioneer batch of SP-CD Lionhearters. One look at the excited faces of the students and we could sense that it was truly a memorable moment for them.

As part of SCDF’s initiative to engage the community and schools, SCDF and Singapore Polytechnic (SP) recently collaborated to form the CD Lionhearter’s Club. The student volunteers, fondly known as Lionhearters, are trained in emergency preparedness and life saving skills. At the same time, they are trained to take on the roles of mediators in incidents involving communal tensions on campus and also provide humanitarian assistance during SCDF overseas missions.

PHOTO: A specialist teaching school for chemical and life science.