$10m fund to boost tertiary education

$10m fund to boost tertiary education

A $10 million fund has been set up by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to look into making teaching and learning more effective at the tertiary level.

Researchers from universities, polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) can apply for funding from the Tertiary Education Research Fund.

Details about the fund, such as the selection criteria for research projects, will be announced early next year.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who made the announcement yesterday, said most MOE-funded research is currently targeted at pre-school, primary and secondary school levels.

"Through this fund, I hope to encourage institutes of higher learning to innovate, and to undertake rigorous research," he said.

"We need to continue learning how to learn."

Mr Heng was speaking at a conference for South-east Asian institutes of higher learning yesterday.

Held at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), this year's conference focused on how brain research can be used to review curricula and enhance teaching and learning methods.

Participating universities said they are already looking into such research.

NTU, for example, opened a research centre earlier this year to develop new approaches to tertiary learning in the local and Asian context.

Professor Lee Sing Kong, its vice-president for education strategies, said every teaching practice it adopts must be anchored on sound evidence derived from research.

He added that one issue worth researching would be whether technological tools are effective in promoting learning.

At the National University of Singapore (NUS), researchers are working on a project to teach students to understand how their brains work, so as to help them learn better.

NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan noted that the new fund is both timely and important.

"Today, there is a major gap in that there are no dedicated sources of funding for research into teaching and learning at the tertiary level," he said.

The fund will allow NUS to scale up its research initiatives for teaching and learning, Professor Tan added.

leepearl@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on Dec 5, 2014.
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