Higher education in Singapore
Singapore has several different levels of higher education: institutes of technical education, polytechnics, universities and private institutions.
Institute of Technical Education
The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) provides two-year courses which lead to a National ITE Certificate. There are three ITE colleges in the country with 12 different locations. Courses offered include business studies, engineering, communications and technology as well as beauty and wellness, creative media and hospitality.
Polytechnics provide three-year diploma courses, which can lead to university studies.
There are five polytechnics in Singapore:
- Nanyang Polytechnic
- Ngee Ann Polytechnic
- Republic Polytechnic
- Singapore Polytechnic
- Temasek Polytechnic
Singapore has three local universities: two are publicly funded and one is private. Nanyang Technological University and National University of Singapore are public universities and have over 20,000 students, offering undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and established research facilities. Singapore Management University is a publicly funded private university whose curriculum focuses on business and management courses.
Finally, there are numerous private institutions which operate autonomously and include two arts institutions and more than 300 private commercial, IT, fine arts and language schools. Two quality-assurance bodies in Singapore ensure that private institutions meet student welfare and regulatory standards: the Case Trust for Education and Singapore Quality Class for Private Education Organizations (SQC-PEO).
The standard university academic calendar in Singapore is divided into two semesters. The first semester usually starts mid-August and lasts until the beginning of December. The second semester starts mid-January until the end of April.
Graduate vs Postgraduate
In the US, the term 'graduate' is used for master's and PhD studies. This is the equivalent of 'postgraduate', which is used in the UK. Universities in Singapore may use either graduate or postgraduate for studies at master's and doctorate level.
Types Of Education
Singaporean universities boast that they combine the academic rigour of British universities and the flexibility and personalisation of American universities. Each of the three Singaporean universities has slight variations on the flexibility offered, but undergraduate programmes usually include a combination of compulsory courses and electives.
Both the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have an international reputation for being research-intensive universities and have contributed greatly to Singapore's development and reputation as a scientific and technological hub.
Singaporean universities offer both basic bachelor's and bachelor's degrees with Honours. A basic bachelor's degree is usually three years of study and a bachelor's degree with Honours will normally require an additional year of study.
Modular system / Academic units
A bachelor's degree is awarded once you receive a certain number of credits or academic units, which usually takes four years to complete. Each course is assigned a number of academic units: one hour of lecture/tutorial per week is usually one unit; three hours of laboratory/fieldwork per week is one unit.