Singapore has always been quick to spot trends and launch next-generation courses in its universities and polytechnics to equip students with futuristic skills and prepare them for industry.
Here at Smart Island you will find information on what is hot and what is not in terms of value education. While making a song and dance about it is not in our genes, that is not going to stop us from proclaiming that this makes Smart Island a unique center of learning – where you can learn about courses designed for the future.
One grouse we have is that the intake of Singaporeans in prime university courses is not very encouraging. Perhaps not much effort is being put in to draw Singaporeans to hot courses even as foreigners are able to get into them in large numbers.
NTU’s hottest new course
Structural biology is a life sciences area that has gained enormous importance primarily because of its practical value for society in areas such as:
- structure-based discovery
- structure-based vaccine design
- structure-based design of biologics
- structure-based design of novel biomaterials
- structure-based protein engineering
To tap its potential, the NTU recently announced a new programme, B.Sc (Hons) in Biological Sciences with 2nd Major in Biomedical Structural Biology.
It combines the Biological Sciences (Honours) with Biomedical Structural Biology as a 2nd Major in partnership with Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKC-MED) and the Division of Chemistry and Biological Chemistry (CBC), School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS).
Last year, the NTU launched a First-of-its-kind degree in Environmental Earth Systems Science focused on Asia.
Big data analytics is an area where there is a serious dearth of talent globally.
- Realizing its import, the NUS launched an MSc (Business Analytics) programme a few years ago.
The other institutions in the country have also introduced similar programmes. They include:
- SMU – Master of IT-Business Analytics
- NTU – Business analytics forms a track in the BSc (Mathematical Sciences) course at the NTU.
- Nanyang Polytechnic – Specialist Diploma in Business & Big Data Analytics
- Temasek Polytechnic – Specialist Diploma in Big Data Management
Short-term courses are also conducted by some institutions for professionals. The SMU has one dealing with business analytics targeted at finance and accounting professionals.
- The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) last year piloted a Data Sciences training course with Coursera, a leader in providing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) with high-quality learning content is provided by Johns Hopkins University. Enrolment is complete but they may have another batch coming in later this year.
Information on the data sciences course can also be had at https://www.coursera.org/specialization/jhudatascience/1?utm_medium=listingPage
All institutions in Singapore offer a range of courses in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) disciplines.
Even the U.S. has an acute shortage of STEM experts. A recent CNBC report on this points out that three million jobs in those areas will go unfilled by 2018.
Singapore will have to ensure that its citizens are given priority in admissions to these courses.
Having some of the world’s best universities in Singapore will not make much sense if locals find unreasonable hurdles in getting admissions there.
The Education System in Singapore
The education system in Singapore generally follows a curriculum that rightly deviates from perpetuating rote learning with a clear focus on bringing out the creative best of its students.
Singapore has consistently been viewed as the world’s best inmathematics (combining visual thinking and mental strategies to solve problems) and the country’s curriculum has won praise from U.S. educationists. What is more, many States in the U.S., including California, have begun using Singapore maths books in their schools.
Singapore mathematics has made inroads into several countries, including France, the Netherlands, Chile, South Africa and India.
Innovation Protocol: In their continuing thrust to encourage creativity and promote learning in an environment of fun and imagination, even primary schools in Singapore have embraced an idea they call Innovation Protocol.
The Ministry of Education organises an annual event, MOE-ExCEL Fest, which showcases the innovative practices of Singapore schools. They seek to inculcate values and life skills among children through lessons beyond the classroom/school setting to facilitate holistic education.
Learning without Stress is Alien to Singapore
Still, in what seems anomalous to it all, the concept of learning without stress is alien to Singapore.
In the name of meritocracy, a lot of damage has been done through initiatives such as streaming and the Gifted Education Programme that have enabled the segregation of the bright and not-so bright. To compound the issue, students are made to spend very long hours at home just doing homework. So where is the fun element?
A recent global study has ranked Singapore third in the world taxing children through homework. Shanghai and Russia fare worse, taking the first two slots.
Singapore is home to universities that are among the best in the world. They include:
- the National University of Singapore (NUS) – 22nd in the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranking
- the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) – 39th in the QS ranking
Both NUS and NTU were also ranked among the top 10 universities for engineering and technology.
- Singapore Management University is a relatively young university, set up only about 10 years ago and hence is excluded from most rankings but its degrees are valued by employers and has the potential to make it to the top.
- Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), the country’s fourth university established in 2012 in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
- Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), an autonomous university of applied learning set up only last year
Then there are many polytechnics, technical institutes and private educational schools in the country, all offering job-oriented programmes..