It’s hard to believe that once upon a time, NUS and NTU were the only local universities on the entire island. Even worse, the range of courses available to students back then was much narrower. NTU didn’t even have arts or medicine, and students pretty much just applied for the best courses their A level or poly scores could get them into.
Students have so many more choices these days it’s quite mind-boggling to us old timers. But still, Singapore is a small country, and the degree courses universities choose to run usually depend on demand amongst students, availability of jobs in the market for certain professions and supply of facilities and teaching staff. And that means that some courses have been egregiously left out. Here are five degrees wish local unis should start offering undergraduates.
1. Veterinary Science
Sorry animal-lovers, but if you have your heart set on becoming a vet, you’re barking up the wrong tree by leafing through NUS and NTU’s prospectuses. At the moment, the closest thing you can get to studying vet science locally is to take a poly diploma course in veterinary bioscience or veterinary technology. To become a full-fledged vet you’ll need to go overseas for what is usually a rather lengthy course that lasts at least 5 years.
Most Singaporeans head to Australia or the UK to get theirs. While the pet industry admittedly isn’t that large in Singapore, it’s a bit sad that students who want to have a shot at vet science need to be able to afford 5 years of an overseas education.
Besides, Singaporeans are becoming and more open to the idea of working overseas, and despite a limited market here many may still choose to take the course and then leave to practise elsewhere. Although that’s probably not the government’s preferred outcome….
Despite all that rhetoric about how Singapore is a bilingual country, we have yet to find a comprehensive local undergraduate degree in translation. SIM University has a BA in translation and interpretation but it’s only for Chinese speakers.
While fewer students take Malay, Tamil, Hindi, Gujarati, Urdu etc as a mother tongue subject than Chinese, that doesn’t mean a career in translation would necessarily elude them. In fact, translators and interpreters with more exotic language pairs tend to command higher rates.
Furthermore, Singaporeans are becoming a lot more international, and aside from those who take third languages at O level and A level, there’s an increasing number of budding polyglots taking various languages in the IB course. Let’s let those who have an interest in taking their skills further do so locally.
Physiotherapy is another of those degrees that everyone seems to be flocking to Australia to get. Right now, other than getting a poly diploma, you can also get a Bachelor in Science (Physiotherapy) locally, but you’ll have to settle for an external course offered by Trinity College Dublin in conjunction with the Singapore Institute of Technology.
With a rapidly ageing population, there is going to be increasing demand for healthcare services like physiotherapy, so it makes a lot of sense for local public universities to start running their own courses. They’ll have a lot more control over the content of the course and will be able to tailor it better to a local market, unlike an external degree like the one that’s currently being offered.
In addition, based on the number of students who take physiotherapy in poly and overseas, a Singapore-based physiotherapy course would probably have no shortage of applicants.
What degree courses would you like to see in Singapore? Let us know in the comments!