AFTER THE A LEVELS

James Cook University eyes bigger pool of students after move to new campus

Learning support teachers (from left) Nimrod Delante, Michael Joyce and George Jacobs are stationed at JCU's student hub to offer help. The school started moving to its new Sims Drive campus (below) last week.
Learning support teachers (from left) Nimrod Delante, Michael Joyce and George Jacobs are stationed at JCU's student hub to offer help. The school started moving to its new Sims Drive campus (below) last week.ST PHOTOS: LAU FOOK KONG
JCU's new Sims Drive campus. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
JCU's new Sims Drive campus. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

The Singapore campus of Australia's James Cook University (JCU), which started moving to its new campus in Sims Drive in Aljunied last week, aims to grow its student number from the current 3,700 to 5,000 by the end of next year.

On top of its 23 degree courses in areas such as business, psychology and early childhood education, JCU Singapore is also looking into offering degree courses in civil engineering and nursing at its new 24,000 sq m campus, which used to house Manjusri Secondary School.

Its degree courses are the same as those run at its home campuses in Australia, and its students here take the same examinations.

The new programmes are expected to be popular with Singaporeans, who make up one-third of the student population that currently uses two campuses in Upper Thomson Road and Ang Mo Kio.

Dr Dale Anderson, JCU deputy vice-chancellor who heads the Singapore campus, said the new courses are likely to be launched next year.

Like some of the current offerings, the new courses will offer professional accreditation in Australia. Its psychology degree, for instance, is accredited by the relevant professional bodies here and in Australia, which means JCU graduates can practise in both countries.

The private school, which is run like an offshore campus of JCU in Queensland, has for years offered counselling services to members of the public for a small fee.

The clinic run by its psychology professors and graduate students counselled 173 people last year, including those suffering from depression and gambling addiction.

With a bigger facility, it will be able to cater to more people, although the school's focus remains on the students, said Dr Anderson.

The fully wired, high-tech campus enables video conferencing and flipped classroom teaching - where students watch lectures online and class time is used to delve deeper into the topic through discussions and debates.

One of the central features of the new campus is a student hub where students can meet their classmates to brainstorm and collaborate on assignments.

There are also "learning support teachers" on hand to help the students.

Students who want help incorporating a set of figures into a paper or a project can approach an officer trained in statistics, for instance, while those who are weak in English can get tips from an English language specialist.

Dr Anderson said: "They are stationed at the hub itself so students have easy access to them."

The 58 full-time faculty members here are all required to have at least a PhD.

JCU, which is making a mark in research in areas such as climate change and marine science, aims to become a world leader in tropical issues and has declared that its Singapore campus will play a key role in its plan.

It hopes the proximity of the new campus to the Singapore Sports Hub and Central Business District can lead to new partnerships with business organisations.

sandra@sph.com.sg