I REFER to the recent letters on the admission of polytechnic graduates to local universities.
Many have referred to the seemingly unfair situation where junior college students are admitted with grades of Bs and Cs, while poly students need to be within the top 10 per cent of their cohort.
The underlying assumption in this is that both systems have similar standards. This is not entirely true as the A-level system still requires significant breadth, as can be seen by the contrasting subject requirements and the General Paper/Knowledge and Inquiry requirements. In comparison, polys focus on the modules needed in the discipline itself. This produces graduates of very different moulds from both systems.
I agree that poly students deserve consideration for uni places and in a level playing field that takes into account their skills. But they must understand that while they may have more knowledge than JC grads in their field of study, they have correspondingly received less general education and this is a handicap in the degree system.
Perhaps it is time to compare grads of both systems fairly by modifying the University Admissions Score system to cater to poly grads as well. This system should have weightage given to general education while offering credit to specialisation.
The recent proposal to couple liberal arts programmes with professional degrees is a tacit admission of the difficulties of getting people to undergo a broader general education. The JC system is one that achieves this aim and needs recognition of this often overlooked strength.
This article was first published in The Straits Times.