UniSIM's part-time degrees a draw

SINGAPORE - Part-time degree courses at SIM University (UniSIM) are more popular than ever.

The school received 5,700 applications in January and last month, pushing enrolment to more than 13,000, up from 11,000 just two years ago.

The number is expected to hit 14,000 by 2015, even as UniSIM plans for full-time degree programmes.

UniSIM president Cheong Hee Kiat attributes the demand for its part-time courses, which are geared towards working adults, to generous tuition fee subsidies.

Singaporeans who pursue a part-time degree at the private UniSIM get a 55 per cent Government subsidy, as do part-time students in the country's publicly- funded universities.

This means a student enrolled in a three-year course which costs $30,000 would end up paying just $13,500.

"Singaporean workers want to upgrade their skills and knowledge to better their job prospects," said Professor Cheong. "The MOE's subsidy adds to that push."

He said another draw is the specialised courses UniSIM offers, along with the school's growing reputation for quality.

Many of its 55 courses, ranging from counselling to aviation maintenance, are accredited by professional bodies.

Its popular accountancy degree, for instance, is recognised by the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra). This will help a graduate register as a public accountant here.

UniSIM also ensures its courses have relevance to the job market, and appeal to students. Before launching a new programme, university officials study academic and market trends.

Prof Cheong said: "For example, we discovered that the local universities don't offer counselling degrees despite the demand for them, so we moved into this area a few years ago."

Importantly, the university has found through employment surveys that its graduates enjoyed better job prospects and salaries after getting their degrees.

That is something that current students, such as Ms Siti Fairuz Muztar, are hoping for.

The 24-year-old senior quality assurance officer with NTUC FairPrice, who is in her second year of a UniSIM business degree, said: "I feel that increasingly you need a degree to go further in your career."

Mr Randy Tan, 25, a polytechnic graduate who works as an events manager, enrolled in UniSIM's business analytics programme after he failed to get into the local universities.

The course trains students to analyse business data and pick up on trends.

"I do think there is value in working and studying at the same time as you can apply it directly to your job," he said.

"Plus UniSIM is also gaining recognition for its quality so it should help my promotion prospects."

Last year, the Education Ministry announced that UniSIM, which was set up in 2006, and the Singapore Institute of Technology will expand their programmes to offer more places.

UniSIM is also looking to add full-time degrees, as well as offer programmes combining job attachments with study.


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