Look Beyond Grades to Admit Students

Singapore’s education institutions can afford some “bias towards personal aspirations”, to allow individuals to enter a course of study that can fulfil their aspirations, said Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung at the Singapore International Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Conference on 3 Nov.

At the event, Mr Ong encouraged students to choose courses and careers that are in line with their personal aspirations, instead of making their decision based on the salary or perceived status of a profession, or even to fulfil “what their parents want”.

“Choices should be based on a good understanding of self - one’s passion and aptitudes, and also a good understanding of the course and career,” said Mr Ong who had previously spoken of the need to develop an education system that caters to individuals’ aspirations.

On the same note, Mr Ong said that education institutions here can afford “greater bias towards personal aspirations” by building a “choice architecture” that better allows students to enter a course of study that can fulfil their personal aspirations. 

He also urged educators and employers not to be “too quick to dismiss individuals’ interests and aspirations” if they can demonstrate their strengths beyond academic qualifications.

Citing examples of students who secured places in polytechnics and universities through work experience, he added that existing frameworks are in place to adopt a holistic approach towards admissions. 

Each year, about 7.5 per cent of full-time polytechnic students are admitted on a discretionary basis, while universities can admit up to 10 per cent of their intakes based on other criteria other than exam grades.

How do you think our education institutions can help students fulfil their aspirations without compromising standards on course admission? Share your views here!

Read Mr Ong full speech here.

Sources: “Admit students based on more than just grades: Ong Ye Kung” (The Straits Times, 4 Nov 2015) and “Education system championing skills, academics possible: Ong Ye Kung” (TODAY, 4 Nov 2015)

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