Thousands of polytechnic, SUSS students graduate amid pandemic

Graduates from SUSS on their convocation day.
Graduates from SUSS on their convocation day.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

SINGAPORE - Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of students had to face up to the challenges posed by disruptions to their formal schooling. And they succeeded.

Last week, the five polytechnics and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) held their convocation ceremonies.

Some students have had their educational paths and internship experiences shaped by Covid-19.

Mr Scott Lee, 20, who obtained a diploma in experience and product design from Singapore Polytechnic, spent a large part of his internship developing a home-based learning table - adjustable cardboard furniture for children whose classes went online.

He said his polytechnic experience, which involved numerous presentations and critiques on his work, helped him deal with issues of anxiety that he has been coping with for several years.

"Just having to get up and present and getting used to my work being rejected initially helped me become more confident and more thick-skinned," he said.

The convocation ceremonies were held in several sessions over a few days in order to maintain safe distancing.

Some of the guests of honour spoke of the work that the students and institutions have done to help their communities through the pandemic.

In his speech at a Temasek Polytechnic (TP) ceremony on May 3, Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman highlighted TP's Campus Care Network Special Crisis Fund, which was set up in April last year to support students whose families were in financial difficulty because of the pandemic.

"To date, about $38,000 has been disbursed from this fund, benefiting close to 100 students," he said.

A large number of mature students graduated this year.

Republic Polytechnic (RP), meanwhile, saw its largest batch of 790 Continuing Education and Training (CET) graduates.

Mr Vimalan Shawn, 45, who graduated with a diploma in applied science (medical laboratory science), said: "When the CET diploma was offered, it presented me with a second chance to fulfil my educational dreams. I saw it as an opportunity to equip, reskill and enrich myself."

At Singapore Polytechnic's ceremony, principal and chief executive officer Soh Wai Wah congratulated the 6,054 graduates and spoke of a commitment his institution was making to them to be part of their education for life.

"Your graduation today is but the beginning of a new long-term relationship with SP," he said.

"We want to be your partner in your lifelong learning journey."