SMU's new graduation requirement disconcerting

It was disturbing to read about the new graduation requirement for Singapore Management University (SMU) students, which states that they have to participate in one overseas stint (New SMU students need overseas stint to graduate; March 22).

While I do agree that extended overseas stints, be it internships, student exchange programmes or cultural immersion schemes, can broaden the minds of university students and should be encouraged, I am uncomfortable about them being a requirement to graduate.

SMU has indicated that there are financial assistance schemes to ensure that no student misses out because of financial constraints but there may be other issues that do not allow students to participate in overseas trips for an extended period. These could range from students having to take care of their invalid parents to being the sole breadwinner of the family.

These circumstances will not allow the students to head overseas, even if the trip is fully funded by the university. Will students who face such issues and are unable to participate be able to graduate from the university?

Han Ming Guang

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 27, 2018, with the headline 'SMU's new graduation requirement disconcerting'. Print Edition | Subscribe