Coding is undoubtedly a pet topic these days.
From Google's Singapore headquarters dishing out free coding lessons to kids from underprivileged backgrounds and the success of that, to the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) partnering the Ministry of Education (MOE) to introduce a pocket-sized, code-able computer to kids in primary and secondary school - it is the skill to have if you're planning to stay relevant.
Even for adults, coding courses and schools are popping up everywhere, as many rush to get their hands, and spend their Skillsfuture credits on them.
Despite the big push of coding in Singapore, it's surprising to note the abrupt closure of a New York-headquartered programming school that offers financial technology and data science courses here.
Byte Academy Singapore had big ambitions - it aimed to groom up to 2,000 financial technology and data science programmers in Singapore.
The school was also very confident of its ability to nurture these talents and even offered a money-back guarantee policy.
It promised students a refund of tuition fees - which come up to $10,000 before subsidies - if they cannot land a job six months after graduating from its full-time courses, which last for 12 weeks.
Dr Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State at the Ministry of Communications and Information, who spoke at Byte's opening last year, said that "we need Byte Academy to be successful because we have a need for ICT professionals and the skills that you are going to develop".
Well, I guess he spoke a little too soon.
A Clean Breakup With The Students
Singapore-seed stage investment firm Tri5 Ventures had pumped in $3 million to bring the school here back in November.
As Byte's first overseas campus, it opened to much fanfare; but barely a year after its expansion to Singapore, comes the unfortunate news of its closing.
Byte Academy Singapore had terminated its registration with the Committee for Private Education (CPE) in March.
It was a training partner under IMDA's Tech Immersion and Placement Programme, an initiative to help train non-ICT (information and communications technology) professionals to make a career switch to the ICT sector.
The school had also ceased its partnership with Tri5 Ventures due to "disagreements" between the latter and the school's parent entity, Byte Academy United States.
According to an article by The Straits Times, Tri5's managing partner Christopher Quek declined to reveal more about the disagreements for confidentiality reasons.
Nonetheless, he did mention that all fees - including deposits, registration and tuition fees - have been refunded to the students upon confirmation of the closure.
This wasn't the first time the school had to reimburse its students though.
Last December, just a month after Byte's opening, the school had conducted a short course on Python programming; but the course was cut short as the instructor had to return to the US for medical reasons.
Students were also fully refunded for this course.
Still Staying Strong To Its Purpose
Despite the termination of the partnership, Tri5 said that they remain committed to supporting the national agenda of re-training Singaporeans to adapt to the growing tech programming industry.
"We have observed and continue to see the rising demand for tech skills across many industries, both in startups and established companies alike. Tri5 Ventures remains positive in investing in programming schools in Singapore and are on the lookout for more such schools that bring value to the ecosystem," said Quek.