Good grades should not be only ticket to university

The flexibility of the selection process in SIM University (UniSIM) is constructive and echoes the admission components of the newer universities ("More than good grades needed for a place at UniSIM"; Jan 6).

The school's four-step selection process recognises that examination results per se do not necessarily reflect a student's true quality and potential. It should be a signal to public universities to make higher education more inclusive.

At the National University of Singapore (NUS), undergraduates are admitted based on their academic standing, course selection and competition among applicants.

If an applicant has performed poorly in a high-stakes assessment, his opportunities are limited. Other achievements or work experience will be considered only in exceptional cases.

Over at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), the application process includes an essay and interview, and consideration of the applicant's co-curricular activities and other relevant accomplishments.

Such holistic evaluation paints a fairer picture of the person.

Admission officers - in NUS, for instance - should use existing initiatives as a guide, and consider customising appropriate methodologies to assess applicants.

It will be more complicated, but the central tenet is to do away with the rigid obsession with academic abilities.

A good university is a hub for knowledge, and standards should not be compromised.

Yet if the admissions process can be calibrated to inject greater diversity, then why not?

Flexibility in universities - and their admission processes - sets the tone for the rest of the education system, which is coming to terms with a complex and demanding world where being book-smart is no longer sufficient.

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