From next year, polytechnics will take into account the job experience of working adults who apply for full-time diploma courses, even if they do not meet the cut-off in terms of academic points.
Currently, such admission is based largely on academic results, unlike part-time courses, which give credit to work experience. The five polytechnics now admit about 400 working adults into their full-time diploma programmes each year.
Announcing the change yesterday, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said academic grades attained years earlier "do not fully reflect the current eligibility of applicants".
So, interviews and other methods of assessment will be used to evaluate work experience and performance, in addition to past academic grades.
But, he added: "Even as we place greater weight on relevant work experience and performance for polytechnic admissions, we will still ensure that students are able to cope with the academic rigour of the courses they are enrolling into."
Mr Ong was speaking at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduation ceremony at its headquarters in Ang Mo Kio.
Another change he announced is that from academic year 2020, working adults can apply to polytechnics via the Early Admissions Exercise, which so far is only for students.
The scheme, which does not rely only on academic grades, will not hurt the admission chances of students from secondary schools and the ITE because more places will be made available.
Even when their previous academic grades fail to get them in, working adults can show they have the specified skill sets for their chosen courses via supplementary assessments designed and administered by the polytechnics.
"What this means is there is no rush for those who are interested in further studies," said Mr Ong.
"Work in the area that you are trained in, get some relevant experience and be sure this is what you want to do. You can then come back to the polytechnics later to deepen your skills - whether on a full-time or part-time basis," he added.
Working adults generally need at least two years of work experience before applying, and should submit employment records and employer recommendations. The admission changes apply only to Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
ITE graduate Saranya Tamil Selvan, now a pre-school teacher, welcomes the change."Having hands-on experiences is important because you can relate what you learn in school to the real world," said the 26-year-old, who plans to take up early childhood studies in polytechnic.