By Narendra Aggarwal
SCHOOL leavers and those who wish to upgrade their skills and knowledge now have new opportunities to move up the learning ladder. They can go through the private educational organisations which work with foreign partners to offer a wide variety of courses and programmes to meet market needs.
These local private educational organisations (PEOs) have tied up with overseas partners to offer degree, diploma and certificate courses, some of which are focused and prepare the students for specific jobs with rewarding careers.
|The Deakin MBA programme offered by TMC is a popular choice among graduates.
One such not-for-profit organisation at the forefront of providing learning opportunities is the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) group, which includes the SIM University, SIM Global Education and SIM Professional Development.
While the SIM University (UniSIM) offers more structured degree courses as a full-fledged degree awarding institution, SIM Global Education has a wider range of offerings through its collaboration with many overseas partners.
SIM Global Education offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes with 11 university partners and has about 16,000 students, of which 10,000 are full-time students and the rest, part-time.
As for UniSIM, it has about 8,000 students and among its university partners are the Beijing Normal University and Cranfield University for its undergraduate and master's programmes respectively.
UniSIM also partners overseas universities such as the Beijing Foreign Studies University, Athabasca University, the Open University of Hong Kong and the Open University of United Kingdom for other academic collaborations and research work.
SIM Global Education's chief executive officer, Mr Lee Kwok Cheong, says that the programmes offered by it are popular with both locals and foreigners, with a quarter of the 10,000 full-time students being international students. While most of the foreign students are from Indonesia (39 per cent) and China (20 per cent), others hail from as far away as Mongolia.
"We want our students to have a real international experience. While we want to serve Singaporean students' needs, we also want to create a real international experience for our foreign students,'' he stresses.
SIM Global Education has a very international model. "We want to be the best. We believe in adding value to the whole education landscape,'' says Mr Lee, who courts global universities and other key institutions to bring their programmes here.
One such institution is the Swiss-based International Hotel Management Institute (IMI). Mr Lee recalls that IMI was initially reluctant because it was not familiar with SIM. He persisted and cultivated IMI as he felt its programmes would be good for Singaporeans.
Mr Lee has been proven right. SIM's first intake of 22 students graduated in June this year. Four of the five first-class honours awards by IMI this year were clinched by SIM students. Now IMI is keen to build its relationship with SIM, having seen the commitment and performance of the students. The second intake has attracted 26 students.
|Postgraduate students at the University of Adelaide Ngee Ann-Singapore campus get an opportunity for "cross" enrolment in electives which give them a broader learning scope.
The SIM-IMI programme offers three choices and is awarded by IMI and Manchester Metropolitan University. Students enrolled in the programme spend six months in Singapore and six months onsite at IMI in Lucerne, Switzerland. Course fees are about half of what students would pay if they study full-time at IMI.
Another private education provider, Ngee Ann Education Holdings, says it chose Australia's University of Adelaide as its partner as many of Singapore's brightest and best studied there.
Ngee Ann Education Holdings, which is a subsidiary of the Ngee Ann Kongsi foundation, formed a 50:50 joint venture with the Australian university to establish the University of Adelaide Ngee Ann - Singapore campus as the gateway to globalisation for the university and the regional centre of excellence in post-graduate and professional education.
"Students studying in the Singapore campus can be assured of the level of academic and service quality in their learning experience with us,'' says its general manager Lim Mei Mei. This is because the University of Adelaide is responsible for the compliance with academic policies and procedures in each programme offered in Singapore.
All the 520 students enrolled here are adult learners. The aim is to double enrolment by 2010.
The MBA programme, which is most popular at the school, had attracted 350 students.
The opportunity for "cross" enrolment in electives offered in the postgraduate programmes offers the student the option of a broader learning scope, says Ms Lim.
For instance, an MBA student may opt for a course offered in the Master of Applied Finance or Master of Project Management programmes.
Similarly, the TMC Education Group entered into a partnership with Australia's Deakin University, which is renowned for its business courses.
A good example is the offering of the Deakin MBA and MBA (International) programmes. After a series of successful MBA runs (designed for graduates with at least two years of working experience), TMC noted that there was a demand for the course from fresh graduates with no working experience.
Responding to market demand, Deakin MBA (International) was developed and offered through TMC to the Singapore and regional market.
This article was first published in The Straits Times on Aug 31, 2008.