Post-secondary academic certificates set to go digital

The national-level initiative covers academic certificates from the N, O and A levels, all the way through to other post-secondary qualifications such as polytechnic diplomas and university degrees, as well as Singapore Workforce Skills Qualification
The national-level initiative covers academic certificates from the N, O and A levels, all the way through to other post-secondary qualifications such as polytechnic diplomas and university degrees, as well as Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Future graduates will no longer have to rummage through drawers looking for their post-secondary academic certificates.

From now on, they will receive digital as well as physical versions of these qualifications, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung announced on Friday (May 3).

The certificates will be automatically included on graduates' MySkillsFuture accounts - which are accessible via SingPass - when they are issued by the schools or agencies.

The national-level initiative covers academic certificates from the N, O and A levels, all the way through to other post-secondary qualifications such as polytechnic diplomas and university degrees, as well as Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications.

Individuals will also be able to have their digital certificates verified easily, thanks to a blockchain-based platform known as OpenCerts - making job applications easier for both applicant and employer.

Blockchain is a tool for digitally recording transactions.

As each digital certificate is assigned a unique cryptographic signature that is permanent and immutable, any signs of tampering with the document will show up when the certificate data fails to match against its code on the blockchain.

 

OpenCerts, which has been developed jointly by SkillsFuture Singapore, the Government Technology Agency, Ngee Ann Polytechnic and Ministry Of Education, was launched by Mr Ong at Temasek Polytechnic's graduation ceremony on Friday morning.

Mr Ong said in his speech: "Blockchain has many possibilities, but few real-world applications thus far. Some say that it is almost a solution looking for a problem. 

"With OpenCerts, we are harnessing the power of blockchain in a practical way. It allows for any education institute to issue OpenCerts, and for anyone to quickly check the validity of a digital certificate. This will in time make job application and hiring easier and smoother for both the applicant and the employer.

"With OpenCerts, any unsavoury characters submitting forged certificates or degrees from Singapore institutions to try and get a job will be quickly found out and denied. It is a good solution to a real-world problem."

The previous day, Ms Lai Wei Lin, Second Permanent Secretary for Education, witnessed the memorandum of understanding signing event for the 18 institutions and agencies that form the OpenCerts consortium, which includes the local polytechnics as well as the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board.

While the new system is currently applicable only to certificates being issued this year, past educational certificates will also likely be given similar verifiable digital versions in the near future.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic student Oh Jia Jia, 20, who is graduating with a diploma in psychology studies next week, told The Straits Times that the new system would make things "a lot easier". She said: "When I have to apply for jobs, I will just send the employers my digital certificates, because they can verify them easily and instantly. Getting these documents verified the traditional way would take so much more time."