SINGAPORE: Minister for Education Mr Heng Swee Keat said on Saturday (Aug 16) recent changes made by two universities to their honours programme and grading system will not dilute the importance of a degree. Instead, it is the “right thing” to do to reflect more accurately students’ abilities as their educational achievements have been going up.

Mr Heng was responding to questions from the media on recent changes made by the National University of Singapore (NUS) to lower the qualifying requirement for its Honours Programme and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to change its grading system for incoming graduates.

For NUS, the change is only applicable to three of its faculties – Arts and Social Sciences, Business and Science. The change means that between 400 and 500 more students in these three faculties will qualify for Honours each year.

And under NTU’s new system, freshmen can automatically exclude up to six courses for Grade Point Average computation, if they do not attain a pass for their first attempt in year one. They will retake the exams for those exempted courses and the grade for the second attempt will then be used to compute the student’s GPA.

Mr Heng was speaking on Saturday at the NTU Fest held at the Padang – a mega orientation event comprising a public carnival, fun run and a star-studded evening concert. He said the value of a degree comes from the impact students are able to make in society and the workplace.

The next step is to focus on building deep skills and knowledge, as well as have the ability to solve problems. “What we should do is to prepare our students for a future that is more complex, more uncertain and less predictable. To be able to solve problems and to be able to come out with innovative ideas – that is what I hope that our university students and indeed all our students would be able to do,” said Mr Heng.

Meanwhile, celebrations for the NTU Fest continued into the evening – with a star-studded concert at the Padang. It is all fun before mugging for the new academic year begins.

Over eight thousand people attended the inaugural event, which was also opened to the public. It comprised a carnival, a 4.8-kilometre fun run and a concert featuring MediaCorp artistes such as Desmond Tan and Final 1 champion Farisha Ishakand popular Korean artistes Kang Gary and Jung-in.

Proceeds from the event will go towards the ITE Endowment Fund to help students in need of financial assistance. It has raised around S$200,000 so far.

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