Start uni studies with general courses

Prospective students at NUS Open House 2019, on March 9, 2019.
Prospective students at NUS Open House 2019, on March 9, 2019. ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

Senior education correspondent Sandra Davie suggested that there is merit in expanding the number of places for applied skills-based degree courses that are in demand, and in disciplines relevant to Singapore's future needs (40% university cohort rate: Should it be raised in future?, May 23).

While I agree that this is a sensible approach that works well for returning adults furthering their higher education, I doubt it would be suitable for young students entering university as many of them are still unsure of what they want to do in future.

As a result there is still a high incidence of graduates not entering or practising in the disciplines they were trained in after they graduate. In the fast-changing economy there is also the problem of a time lag between when the jobs are needed and when the students will graduate to fill the jobs.

My suggestion is not to offer specialised or applied courses, but instead start university degrees with general courses in the liberal arts, communication, leadership, entrepreneurship, sustainability, sociology and other subjects in the first year of study.

This will allow students to choose their preferred course of study only after they have had the chance to explore these different subjects.

This will also allow them to choose specialisations when they are already in their courses, as they would then know their suitability for the jobs that may be in demand instead of finding out only after they graduate from their courses.

The approach I have suggested will help students "discover" themselves and help reduce attrition and minimise wastage.

Charles Tee

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2019, with the headline 'Start uni studies with general courses'. Print Edition | Subscribe