SINGAPORE - When the Singapore Polytechnic was set up in 1954, the Government had a specific role in mind for the pioneering institution.
As the late Senior Minister of State for Education Tay Eng Soon put it in an interview in 1993: "Polytechnics fill a very important middle section - sub-degrees but producing competent and confident people who can do their jobs immediately upon graduation."
The reality today is that the lot and aspirations of polytechnic students have changed.
Those who take the polytechnic route are not necessarily junior college rejects. In fact, Education Ministry figures show that a third of the 25,000 students who enter the five polytechnics qualify for a junior college. The latter have a higher cut-off entry score than the polytechnics in terms of O-level results.
When they graduate with a diploma after three years, polytechnic graduates are no longer content with their "sub-degrees" and filling the "middle section" in industry. At the first opportunity, many head to universities here and abroad, notably Britain and Australia.
The top students usually aim for the local universities. In recent years, increasing numbers have been applying for the more competitive courses such as business, law and medicine, and have successfully gained entry.
Those who cannot afford the cost will look to private schools such as the Singapore Institute of Management.
Those whose financial circumstances require them to work will turn to SIM University to study part-time.