Press Releases

January 30, 2020

Enhancing Pathways in the Higher Education Landscape to Support Diverse Interests and Aptitudes

1. The Ministry of Education will be enhancing the porosity between pathways in the higher education landscape to better support individuals' interests, aptitudes and learning needs. This will be done in three ways:

  1. Reducing the time taken for A-level students to attain a polytechnic diploma,
  2. Expanding Aptitude-Based Admissions at National University of Singapore (NUS), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the Singapore Management University (SMU),
  3. Further opening up diploma pathways for working adults.

(i) Expanding Opportunities for A-Level Students to Enter Polytechnics

2. Since Academic Year (AY) 2019, eligible A-Level graduates can be admitted to polytechnics at the start of Year 1 Semester 2 in October, for around 110 diploma courses. The reduction of one semester allows A-Level graduates to complete their polytechnic studies to 2.5 years, from the usual 3 years.

3. Building on this, the polytechnics have further reviewed their offerings and curricula time-tabling to further reduce the time taken for an A-Level graduate to obtain a polytechnic diploma. Starting from AY2020, eligible A-Level graduates will be able to obtain exemptions of up to two semesters in 56 courses. With this move, A-Level graduates in these courses can now enrol in polytechnic in October and graduate 2 years later. The shortened timeline is illustrated in Annex A.

4. The total number of polytechnic courses offering exemptions for eligible A-Level students will increase to 120 courses, or about two-thirds of all polytechnic courses.

5. Interested A-Level graduates can apply to the polytechnics directly for the 120 courses in mid-August 2020, for matriculation at the start of AY2020 Semester 2 in October 2020. More details will be made available on the respective polytechnics' websites by March 2020.

(ii) Expansion of Aptitude-based Admissions at NUS, NTU, and SMU

6. Under the current Discretionary Admissions (DA) scheme at NUS, NTU and SMU, these AUs can admit up to 15% of their annual intake based on factors beyond general academic grades. In practice, students are primarily assessed based on whether they have met the minimum academic grades, and for those who have not, the institutions can take into account additional academic and non-academic factors.

7. MOE will further expand aptitude-based admission, which relies less on academic grades as a starting point when assessing students and more on other yardsticks of merit, so that a fuller range of an individual's aptitude and attributes can be taken into account. NUS, NTU, and SMU already do this today for a range of courses, to identify students who possess the relevant skills, competencies, and passion to do well in their courses. Such courses include Architecture, Art, Design & Media, Dentistry, Law, Medicine and Nursing.

8. To better recognise an individual's academic and non-academic aptitudes and strengths holistically alongside general academic grades, NUS, NTU and SMU will no longer offer the standalone DA scheme from the AY2020 admissions exercise, and will instead expand their adoption of aptitude-based assessment in their admissions practices. This will take effect from the AY2020 admissions exercise.

9. The remaining three AUs – Singapore University of Technology and Design, the Singapore Institute of Technology, and the Singapore University of Social Sciences – already practice aptitude-based admission for all their students.

(iii) Opening Up Pathways to Diplomas at Polytechnics and ITE

10. As we develop more pathways in our education and training system, we have aligned the admission criteria for full-time and part-time polytechnic diplomas, as well as ITE's Technical Engineering Diploma (TED)/Technical Diploma (TD) programmes. We have also opened up new admission pathways to support Singaporeans in pursuing skills upgrading based on their needs.

11. Today, working adults with at least two years of relevant work experience can already be considered for admission to full-time polytechnic diplomas, even if their past academic grades do not meet the minimum academic requirements. From AY2021, working adults with at least two years of relevant work experience can also be similarly considered for admission to part-time polytechnic diploma and TED/TD programmes.

12. To further open up skills-upgrading options for working adults, from AY2021, those with part-time Nitec/Higher Nitec or Workforce Skills Qualification (WSQ) Diplomas will also be able to apply to full-time polytechnic diplomas and TED/TD programmes if they meet the minimum academic requirement and have at least one year of relevant work experience. Previously, such individuals could only apply to full-time polytechnic diplomas after accumulating two years of relevant work experience. The TED/TD programmes were also not available to this group.

13. As part of the harmonisation of admission criteria, there will be some tightening of the academic requirements for entry into part-time polytechnic diplomas for Higher Nitec holders, in order to align with the other diploma-level programmes. Individuals who do not meet the higher academic requirement can still be considered for admission via discretionary admission processes or after accumulating two years of working experience. More details about the revised minimum entry requirements for polytechnic and ITE diploma programmes will be made available on their respective websites ahead of the AY2021 admission exercises.