It's different from secondary school

SINGAPORE - At private education institutions (PEIs), it's not just by-the-book learning for students.

Students in PEIs are expected to be more independent thinkers, contributing as much as they take away in class.

Dr Chey Chor Khoon, Acting Director, Academic Affairs, SMF Institute of Higher Learning, said: "In secondary school, life is regimented, and follows a routine set by the school. However, studying in a PEI requires a student to develop his/her own level of discipline and have a good time management skills."

Mr Lim Keai, vice-principal of Higher Learning and Hospitality at DIMENSIONS International College, said that students studying at the PEI can expect to meet peers of the same passion in building skills and gaining knowledge for a successful career in the future.

He said: "Students at DIMENSIONS are able to interact with others from different academic background, age group and culture, thus enabling a global atmosphere without traveling too far. Dedicated Student Support Staff are also at each student's beck and call."

Dr Alan Go, academic head and senior lecturer at ERC Institute (ERCI), said: "ERCI treats every student as a young responsible adult and we believe students must be given the respect, independency and encouragement to excel. Our student councils comprising over 100 students organise various activities such as inter-PEIs and mainstream schools sports tournaments, business-based competitions, overseas learning trips, exchange programmes, corporate social responsibility programmes such as donation drives and visits to orphanages.

"Our students also gain by attending our various international student associations activities expanding their cultural understanding. In addition, ERCI has a series of free student enrichment programmes where students can learn soft skills. The most important difference is the networking with students from so many countries which creates the alumni that our students will be able to leverage for their future opportunities."

Mr Loh Siew Meng, managing director of Informatics Academy, said studies at PEIs have more industry relevance so students will be more workplace-ready.

"Studying in PEIs is also a pathway to a higher education towards a university of your choice," he said.

Ms Joyce Keong, general manager of International Sports Academy, said "As students are approaching the diploma level and this is a higher learning experience, there will be a lot of group work, assignments and presentations compared to academic study in secondary school.

"They have to learn to study as a team and develope their confidence level in speaking and presenting in class to prepare them for the job market."

Unlike at secondary schools, smaller class sizes at PEIs enable lecturers to devote more of their time to each of their students, and to ensure that quality learning takes place, said Dr Liz Chan, Academic Director of SAA Global Education Centre (SAA-GE).

At SAA-GE, the typical class size is 15, which makes such learning most ideal.

She added that, compared to secondary schools, students at PEIs come from different countries and ethnic backgrounds such as Korea, China, Vietnam, Myanmar and Malaysia.

"At PEIs, students generally become more independent learners. In other rds, they have more control of how they learn, which extends beyond the classrooms. At SAA-GE, the "blended learning" approach encourages that.

"Our professional courses (such as the Diploma of Accountancy) are aligned with the body of knowledge and skills established by the professional bodies, and enjoy professional examination exemptions from these professional bodies."

What sets Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) apart from other secondary schools is its high ratio of international students.

The school, which is the longest established tertiary arts education institution in Singapore, has a student population that comprises 59 per cent Singaporeans and permanent residents, 23 per cent from South-east Asia and 14 per cent from North-east Asia.

Mr William Teo, director of the office of admissions and corporate relations department of NAFA, said: "The cosmopolitan culture at NAFA is one which we try to cultivate, our centric location in South-east Asia means we are a natural melting pot, we expose our students to a myriad of arts and cultures from the region to expand their perspectives and be inspired.

"As a tertiary arts institution, the training is practice-led and students learn mainly through project work in the studios, complemented by various theory and history lessons. Performing arts students in music, theatre and dance are given regular opportunities to perform in various recital halls and theatres at NAFA, and similarly, visual arts students have to present and exhibit their works."

Different ways of learning: students enrolled in private education institutions enjoy a varied experience.

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