Saturday, January 14, 2006

Overseas Voting; Joint undergraduate degrees (NUS/foreign)

The grapevine is that the Singapore general elections will be called soon, possibly within the coming six months. It is quite likely I will not get to vote (and I have never voted), because

(1) my Singapore residential address is in one of the GRC strongholds of the ruling party (means there is a high chance of the opposition not contesting);

(2) Even if it is a contested ward this time round, Section 13A of the Parliamentary Elections Act will disqualify me as

-(i) I have lived in the country for less than an aggregate of 2 years during the period of 5 years immediately preceding the prescribed date (of the elections);

-(ii) I am not on any government scholarships nor employed by any government/public agencies (means there is a chance I will "vote irresponsibly").

Huichieh has a good summary.

If my residential area is not a walkover (like 2001), I will expect the Elections department to send me a warning note after the elections to justify why I did not turn up to vote. This means I have to provide them with written "proof" that I am overseas (with a legitimate reason) when the event took place. If I don't, my name will not be restored to the register of voters (or something like that). Meanwhile, Mindef knows that I am studying overseas (because they approved my Exit Permit application). And I wonder if the various government agencies do communicate to each other at all.

So am I excited about the upcoming elections? Of course. It is like playing merry-go-round with the agencies and I will be the monkey. And monkeys don't get to vote.


Hot off the Nation-building press:

Jan 15, 2006
NUS, foreign varsities offer joint degrees
by Sandra Davie

A NATIONAL University of Singapore (NUS) student will soon be able to spend two out of his four undergraduate years at another university, picking from such illustrious institutions as the University of California, Berkeley; the Australian National University (ANU), Cambridge or Yale.

But it will not just be a matter of spending some semesters abroad - his degree will be endorsed by both universities.

NUS plans to offer joint and double degree programmes with these and other partners, in a new grouping called the International Alliance of Research Universities.

Other members include the universities of Tokyo, Beijing and Copenhagen, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, and Oxford University.

The heads of the 10 member institutions - among the top ones listed in The Times of London newspaper's Higher Education Supplement - held their first annual meeting here over the last two days.

NUS said the degree arrangements would vary depending on the institution. But it will probably be similar to the joint undergraduate degree programme it is offering with ANU in economics and actuarial science, or the study of managing risk in insurance.

Under the arrangement, NUS students spend their second and third years at ANU's Canberra campus. They have to meet the requirements set by both universities to earn a degree carrying the names of both institutions.

The students pay the same fees as at home, and NUS will offer financial aid if they cannot afford the travel expenses.

Students from alliance member universities will also be able to study at NUS, living and playing alongside local students staying at the residential colleges which will be built by 2009 at the former Warren Golf Club site.

Professor Ian Chubb, ANU's president and head of the alliance, said that, increasingly, universities have to think of preparing students for global jobs and leadership.

'Every day, you hear of yet another Australian company moving its operations to China or India. They need workers and managers who can manage in China or India.

'The best way to do that is to expose students to different cultures, different ways of thinking and approaching issues.'

Ms Linda Lorimer, Yale's vice-president, agreed, saying that universities have to prepare students for the world, not just to work within the boundaries of their respective countries.

This year, the Ivy League university will offer a summer course on international studies for NUS students at its campus in New Haven, Connecticut. NUS will do the same for Yale students here.

Prof Chubb said the partners would look into collaborating on research into such issues as migration, energy, water management, the environment and ageing.

This, said NUS president Shih Choon Fong, will allow the universities to leverage on their distinct strengths.

For polytechnic graduate Nicholas Tan, 22, who is waiting to enter NUS, the prospect of the double degree programme with an American university is exciting. He had to give up his dream of going to an American university because of the high cost.

'Imagine being able to combine my studies at NUS with two years at Yale or Berkeley,' he said. 'You get the best of two education systems.'

Excited? But don't be yet. The devil's in the details, and they are not out to the public. The number of students on such dual degree programs is likely to be small (What, you think universities like Yale, Oxford etc would want to admit large groups of NUS students?) Competition will possibly be very stiff (like that I heard of SMU students vying for exchange to Wharton). And you won't know if you will get shamed in the papers if you decide the school overseas is better and you want to stay on.

But to be fair, it sounds like a better deal than the usual exchange programs (at least you get some sort of paper recognition for spending 2 years overseas).


serendipity said...


poly grads have a higher chance of getting an exemption (tt is, if same course pursued) if they were to admit into overseas uni, which means they can earn back the money they paid for overseas studies by the time they shld grad from NUS.

and then again, not everyone gets to go such prestigious Us to study.

Suffer in a prestigious sch for 2 years and being homesick and stuff?
No thanks.

vivienne said...

poly grads have a higher chance of getting an exemption (tt is, if same course pursued) if they were to admit into overseas uni, which means they can earn back the money they paid for overseas studies by the time they shld grad from NUS.

Most poly grads complete their degrees in 1.5-2.5 years, if they recieve exemptions for a relevant programme at Uni and they save 1.5-2 years as compared to their equivalents in Singapore. However, exemptions at University vary across the board and it very much depends on the University. As far that my knowledge permits, I doubt that Cambridge gives exemptions to poly students.

In any case, I wouldn't be so confident about returning a loan of SGD 70K (or more) in 2 years upon graduation, especially when working in a Science academia type of setting.