Parliament: Polys and universities to expand aptitude-based admissions, to cater to students' talents and interests

A student from Ngee Ann Polytechnic’s School of Humanities and Social Sciences having fun with the elderly at the Lions Befrienders Ghim Moh Senior Activity Centre. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

SINGAPORE - Moving the focus away from academic grades, polytechnics and universities will bump up the proportion of students admitted based on their talents and interests, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament on Friday (April 8).

All five polytechnics as well as three of the autonomous universities, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU), will expand their existing aptitude-based admissions.

These admissions schemes cater to students with abilities and interests in a specific course, as well as those with strengths in other areas such as sports and community service.

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Currently, the polytechnics already take in such students through the Direct Polytechnic Admissions exercise (DPA) and the Joint Polytechnic Special Admissions Exercise (JPSAE), which can admit up to 2.5 per cent and 5 per cent of the polytechnic intake respectively each year.

A new Early Admissions Exercise (EAE) - for students with course-specific aptitudes and interests - will replace the DPA, as well as take in the JPSAE.

The EAE, which will commence in the middle of this year, will be able to admit up to 12.5 per cent of the polytechnic intake. It will allow students to secure a place in a diploma course of their choice, even before they sit their O-level exam.

The mode of assessment under the EAE may vary across courses, and can include interviews, portfolio submissions and aptitude tests.

From early next year, up to 10 per cent of the total number of ITE students who progress on to the polytechnics each year will also come through a similar EAE system.

At the course level, about one-third of polytechnic courses, such as those in health sciences, design and media, will raise their limits on students admitted via the aptitude-based admissions from 30 per cent to 50 per cent.

The universities too, are expanding their discretionary admissions intake.

From next year, NTU, NUS and SMU can admit up to 15 per cent of their annual intake under the discretionary admissions scheme, up from the current 10 per cent.

Under this scheme, applicants who do not meet the cut-off point for the course they applied to, but display aptitude and meet minimum academic requirements to cope with the rigours of the course, may be considered.

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