SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education’s International Academic Advisory Panel (IAAP) has supported preliminary recommendations from the Committee on University Education beyond 2015 for new directions and models in university education.
These include expanding the university sector by developing a new applied degree pathway, and enhancing continuing education and training opportunities at the degree level.
Deputy Prime Minister and chairman of the panel, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, said the proposal was welcomed by the panel.
"The applied pathway received strong support from the IAAP — principally to build on the strengths of our polytechnic education system and allow students to go as far as possible in developing their skills but also to cater to some of the junior college cohort. The aim was to develop students with, graduates with work ready skills, but not just skills for one job. But also general skills to allow them to adapt and keep innovating."
The panel also supported the expansion of publicly—funded university places, and discussed proposals for a greater focus on Social Science and Humanities research in Singapore.
Professor Paul M. Romer from the New York University Stern School of Business said the focus on social sciences compliments Singapore’s educational landscape.
"Singapore is now at the leading edge of the knowledge about how to design an educational system and will increasingly be undertaking experiments of new ways to prepare people for a rapidly changing world.
"The social science research commitment is a very useful compliment to that because this will let social scientists and humanists here in Singapore study these experiments, learn from them for your own use, but also publish and communicate to the entire world the things that can be learnt from the experiments that you try in education but in many other areas," Romer shared.
The panel added that Singapore’s higher education system has reached a stage of development where it’s no longer playing catch—up with others.
And it’s important to take advantage of this and introduce new models of educational excellence.
Mr Tharman said flexibility needs to be employed for the new institutions to achieve their educational objectives.
These include broadening the admissions criteria beyond performance in examinations, as well as offering students flexibility in the pace and mode of education.
They should also allow for the possibility of deferred admission for students to gain work experience first.
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