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Education for the future

Oct 26, 2017

Singapore invests heavily in its schools, aware that human capital is the country’s most valuable resource and that education is the best way to keep its workforce relevant in a fast changing world.

To prepare its students for the ever-evolving global marketplace, the government emphasizes skills building and versatility. Singapore’s polytechnic institutes play an important role in this mission by offering industry-specific programs which give students an alternative pathway towards productive and meaningful employment.

Students at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine form part of Singapore’s increasingly globalized population.

“Singapore is changing. Our immediate concern is how to remain relevant to Singapore. The old mindset towards internship was one-directional: How could enterprises benefit the polytechnic? Now, the mindset is bi-directional. We are also now concerned with how student interns can help with innovations that can transform enterprises,” said Soh Wai Wah, CEO and Principal of Singapore Polytechnic (SP), the first polytechnic institution in the country.

Founded 63 years ago, SP remains very global-minded and is looking to explore partnerships in the United States for research and collaboration. Meanwhile, as a university of applied learning, Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) provides practical education wherein students are taught to apply their knowledge in real-life contexts.

Its students undergo a skills-based apprenticeship that “allows students to get a true sense of what the industry is about,” President Tan Thiam Soon explained.

“Universities need to adapt and create curricula that are flexible, build expertise more easily and better prepare our society for a fast-changing future,” Tan added.

With that approach, the university hopes to collaborate more with companies and expand its joint degree programs offerings with its current overseas university partners, as well as its own SIT conferred degree programs.

As Singapore’s schools focus on globalization and seek foreign partnerships, Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine) has become a leader in this global trend.

“I have been incredibly impressed by Singapore’s willingness to partner with universities internationally. That willingness to open up to the rest of the world, I think, has been a significant part in Singapore’s progress,” Dean James Best said.

A partnership between Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU) and the Imperial College London, LKCMedicine seeks more collaborations in the field of research in the next few years.

Singapore 2017 was prepared for and originally printed in Foreign Affairs magazine.

PDF of the printed report

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