Tertiary-level education is an important cornerstone of Singapore’s education system, moulding and training a multitude of individuals in a diverse variety of aspects and areas of expertise to eventually helm Singapore politically and socio-economically. Annually, thousands of graduates from Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) – with the confirmation of their results – throng to compile documentations in preparation for the online applications to the local universities.
With the imminent completion and establishment of the fourth university, the new faculties will certainly complement the existing courses across the board; enhancing vibrancy in subject matter and professional preparation. Given the advent of stiffer competition throughout the colleges, coupled by the myriad of availabilities, prospective undergraduates are tasked with the daunting responsibilities to make applications to all the different schools. Many previous and current applicants would concur that not only were the multiple forms and required information a hassle to manage and organise, many of the particulars and details were repetitive in nature: causing the process to be needlessly time-consuming and tedious.
Therefore, it would be a constructive decision on the part of the authorities to consider introducing a joint Singapore universities application system. Such an establishment would be beneficial on two fronts: for the respective universities, the amount of bureaucracy can be reduced significantly since the offices would be able to access the common database of essays and information; for the applicants, they would no longer need to duplicate fields repetitively, and the enhanced liberty – given tight application deadlines – could sufficiently heighten the quality of the submissions. Currently, colleges in the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States (USA) have the UCAS and Common Application respectively as clearing houses for applications, systematically achieving the aforementioned recommendation. While the landscape in Singapore is much smaller, the online system can still prove to be viable.
The proposed portal would not compromise the independence and sovereignty of the colleges, granted that a joint board can be part of the entire process to infuse elements to ensure harmony and equilibrium. Certain sections can be selectively customised to cater to specialised streams or courses.
Improvements have been in place to ease applications to universities and scholarships: from NUS’ preparation of personalised accounts with relevant information pre-entered to JobsFactory’s BrightSparks online portal to coordinate applications to Singapore scholarships. Singapore must be dedicated to continue advancing in these areas to maintain its global competitiveness as an education hub.
A version of this article was published in The Straits Times.