UniSIM plans to boost intake, offer more courses, create internships

SIM University (UniSIM) may be starting small with an intake of 200 students for its three full- time degree courses next year. But by 2020, it will quadruple that, while increasing the number of full-time degree courses to more than half a dozen. --
SIM University (UniSIM) may be starting small with an intake of 200 students for its three full- time degree courses next year. But by 2020, it will quadruple that, while increasing the number of full-time degree courses to more than half a dozen. --  FILE PHOTO: MICA 

SIM University (UniSIM) may be starting small with an intake of 200 students for its three full- time degree courses next year. But by 2020, it will quadruple that, while increasing the number of full-time degree courses to more than half a dozen.

It is looking to add social work and early childhood education to the first full-time degree courses, which are in accountancy, marketing and finance.

On top of that, the private university, which has made a name for itself through its part-time degrees for working adults, expects to have some 16,000 students enrolled in more than 50 degree courses run in the evenings.

To accommodate its expansion, it is in talks with the Education Ministry and relevant agencies to expand its Clementi Road campus or move to a new one.

UniSIM's expansion is part of the Government's plan to enable up to four in 10 Singaporeans to have a shot at a degree at home.

Last year, the Government announced plans to boost university places at UniSIM and the Singapore Institute of Technology, so that 40 per cent of each cohort can pursue a full-time degree here, up from 27 per cent now.

UniSIM president Cheong Hee Kiat said that as with the first three full-time degrees, flexibility will be a key feature of future offerings. Students can crunch a four-year course into three years by taking more modules in a semester, with evening classes.

The other emphasis will be on getting students career-ready.

The university will partner companies to develop and supervise a 24-week work attachment. Unlike traditional internships, UniSIM's attachments will be longer and more substantial, requiring students to take on job tasks other employees perform.

To graduate, students must finish a capstone project centred on a work-related issue.

Since the Government announced its plans to expand the university sector, there have been concerns on whether there will be enough jobs for the high number of graduates, and whether newer universities will be able to produce graduates on a par with the more established ones.

UniSIM provost Tsui Kai Chong cites in response the experiences of American universities like Drexel in Philadelphia, where more than a third of graduates can clock as many as 18 months of work experience in a five-year degree course and land jobs with the employers they interned for. Their work experience is valued and is reflected in higher starting pay, he said.

He expects UniSIM students' job readiness and internship experience to help them land jobs even before they graduate.

Prof Cheong said: "We will turn out graduates who are more hands-on and attuned to the practical needs of industry and business. That will translate into good jobs and salaries for them."

sandra@sph.com.sg