More poly grads in top degree courses here

Nanyang Polytechnic students at their campus in Yio Chu Kang.
Nanyang Polytechnic students at their campus in Yio Chu Kang. PHOTO: ST FILE

These days, you don't have to be a junior college (JC) student to get into competitive undergraduate programmes such as law.

In the last five years, more students are taking the polytechnic route to these professional degree courses offered by the local universities.

The number of poly graduates in undergraduate courses like law and medicine has grown slightly, said a Ministry of Education spokesman.

These two courses typically take in A-level leavers with a string of As, or poly graduates with near perfect or perfect grade point averages of 4.

Last year, the law and medicine courses each took in seven poly graduates, up from just two and one respectively in 2011.

Poly students now make up about 2 per cent of both courses' cohorts, from 0.4 to 0.5 per cent previously.

OPTIONS AVAILABLE

It's good that the choices for polytechnic graduates are not so limited and they can enter university... Making that choice after the O levels - that's quite a young age to decide.

MR NICHOLAS YUE, who earned a place at NUS Law after graduating from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

In the same time period, the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University (SMU) admitted 253 students from polys into their accountancy courses, up from 127 before.

NUS' department of architecture at its school of design and environment had about 40 poly graduates in its intake last year, double the 20 or so five years ago.

Mr Looi Kwok Peng, course manager of Temasek Polytechnic's law and management course, said: "The desire to get into the local law schools is not new, but the success rate seems to be increasing.

"Until very recently, the law schools did not publish any indicative grade point average for diploma-holders, like they did for JC results," he said.

Poly students told The Straits Times they knew it would not be easy for them to get into these competitive courses, but were more hopeful after seeing some of their seniors secure places.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Bryan Lim, who is graduating with a business studies diploma this year with a grade point average of 3.95, has applied for law at NUS and SMU.

The 20-year-old, who has received an offer to read law at King's College London, said: "I know it's challenging, but I'm not too worried as I have seen seniors from my course get into law school."

His senior Nicholas Yue, 23, who read business information technology in Ngee Ann Polytechnic, earned a spot in NUS Law in 2014 with a grade point average of 3.8.

He had qualified for JC with a L1R5 score of 11, but chose poly as he felt it would prepare him better for work. Still, he was surprised to get an interview for law school.

"It's good that the choices for polytechnic graduates are not so limited and they can enter university," he said. "Making that choice after the O levels - that's quite a young age to decide."

Ms Pavani Jeyathasan, 20, a first-year accountancy student at SMU, knew JC was not for her as she preferred to focus on her interest in business and accountancy.

Said the Nanyang Polytechnic accountancy and finance graduate: "I didn't think about the odds of going to university through the poly route. I just worked hard."

Republic Polytechnic biomedical sciences graduate Kenneth Gwee, 22, who is in his first year reading medicine at NUS, said: "I did aim for a degree but I didn't think I'd make it this far to medicine. It was my goal and dream ever since primary school to be a doctor."

Amelia Teng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 02, 2016, with the headline 'More poly grads in top degree courses here'. Print Edition | Subscribe