More Aussie degrees and qualifications to be recognised

Singapore has agreed to recognise postgraduate medical degrees from the University of Queensland and the Australian National University.

This is in addition to recognising 15 more allied health qualifications in occupational therapy, physiotherapy and speech therapy from a number of Australian universities.

The Republic will also recognise the Juris Doctor (JD) degrees awarded by 10 Australian universities, including the universities of Western Australia and Sydney, whose law degrees are already approved. There were an estimated 10 to 20 Singaporeans pursuing JD degrees in those universities last year, according to the Ministry of Law.

Under a new agreement - announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement yesterday - to strengthen the ties between the two countries, Australia will reciprocate. It will recognise the law and JD degrees of Singapore universities, subject to applicable conditions in the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement. The JD programme is a postgraduate course for students who have a bachelor's degree in another discipline.

The agreement, which will allow both countries to cooperate more closely in other areas such as security and trade, also includes a pilot programme that aims to give 100 Singaporeans studying in Australia more opportunities to work with leading Australian companies.

A new "Work and Holiday Maker Programme" will allow up to 500 young people on each side to work and study for up to 12 months.

The initiative is meant to promote cultural exchange by allowing young people to experience each other's country and take on short-term work to fund their stay.

Ms Christabel Tan, 22, a childcare teacher, said of the scheme: "It's important to see the world, be exposed to what other people are like and also grow connections."

Nanyang Technological University business student Jesmine Tan, 23, who went on a six-week volunteer trip to Brazil last year, said: "I helped out with marketing for an NGO and worked and lived like a local... It broke stereotypes I had of the country. I think it will be quite a cost-effective way to travel while gaining some work experience."

Dr K. Thomas Abraham, chief executive of Sata CommHealth, said that Singapore's recognition of more overseas allied health qualifications will address the acute shortage of staff in the field.

"We really need to recruit more allied health professionals, especially as Singapore is expanding its healthcare sector."

Both countries will also deepen cooperation among their universities that have overseas campuses.

In addition, based on its prevailing policy, Singapore will allow Queensland-based James Cook University to refer to its Singapore campus as "the Singapore Campus of James Cook University" by July.

Ms Belinda Robinson, chief executive of Universities Australia, which represents the university sector there, welcomed the growth in the number of Australian qualifications recognised by Singapore.

"We look forward to continuing to expand this list, in recognition of the depth and breadth of excellence in all Australia's universities."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 07, 2016, with the headline 'More Aussie degrees and qualifications to be recognised'. Print Edition | Subscribe