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Whither higher education?

Earlier this month, the National University of Singapore announced that in place of a three-or four-year programme leading to a degree, it would commit itself to a two-decade relationship with students. Is it time to rethink the role of higher education?

ST ILLUSTRATION : MANNY FRANCISCO
Simon Chesterman For The Straits Times

For centuries, universities have operated on the assumption that three or four years of study sufficiently prepare most graduates for a lifetime of employment. The origins of that model lie in mediaeval Europe, though it became widely available to women only less than 100 years ago.

Over the course of that past century, two factors have called into question whether the degree-based system of tertiary education remains fit for purpose.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2018, with the headline 'Whither higher education?'. Subscribe