In an effort to keep polytechnic courses up to date to prepare students for a rapidly evolving workforce, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has announced that it will be reducing the courses for next year's intake by 20.
Speaking to TODAY Online, MOE said that the total number will be reduced from 220 in 2018 to 200 in 2019, and from 230 in 2017.
MOE added that the streamlining process, which will largely be carried out via merging of courses, will affect neither the overall polytechnic intake nor "the number of teaching jobs in the polytechnics".
One of the courses affected by the streamlining is Singapore Polytechnic’s Diploma in Experience & Product Design, which will be merged with the Diploma in Visual Communication & Media.
MOE reasoned that students will be able to harness their skills in both experience and communication design “to meet emerging industry needs for designers skilled in user experience, user interface and experience design” under the newly merged course called the Diploma in Experience & Communication Design.
The Diploma in Retail Management will be merged into the Diploma in Marketing at Temasek Polytechnic, which will enable students to build a solid foundation in marketing before going on to specialise in either branding and digital marketing, or e-commerce and retail marketing.
Two of Republic Polytechnic's courses, namely the Diploma in Aerospace Avionics and the Diploma in Interactive & Digital Media, will be discontinued starting the next academic year. Speaking to TODAY Online, a RP spokesperson revealed that components of the aerospace avionics course will be included in the Aerospace Engineering course, and the Electrical and Electronic Engineering course.
The decision to merge the courses was already previously announced by Education Minister Ong Ye Kung in a Committee of Supply debate by MOE in March, after the National Budget statement was delivered.
He mentioned that polytechnic courses will be cut to 184 in the next two to three years, which is a 20 per cent reduction.
In his speech, Mr Ong rationalised the move to merge polytechnic courses:
Over-specificity puts students at greater risk of being displaced when the industry changes. It can also stifle the versatility of students. By streamlining the course choices for students, we actually increase the career options for the graduates.
Polytechnics will therefore reduce the number of courses by about 20% over the next two to three years, largely by streamlining and merging courses – we are consciously trading depth for more breadth and versatility.
Let me emphasise, we are streamlining and reducing the number of courses to give students broader exposure – there is no fall in polytechnic intake due to this change.
Nonetheless, students whose courses have been affected by the streamlining have found themselves in shock after finding out about the move.
Speaking to TODAY Online, Muhd Rahmat Hidayat Mohd Sidek, 21, a first-year student in Temasek Polytechnic’s diploma course in retail management, said: “While I wasn’t demoralised upon hearing about the closure of the diploma course, it does make me feel sad to think about other students who may have been wanting to apply for this diploma and may not get the chance to pursue it.”
Nurul Aisyqin Abdul Rahim, 20, a second-year Higher National Institute of Technical Education Certificate student of human resource management at ITE College East, has accepted an offer from Republic Polytechnic to pursue a Diploma in Customer Experience Management with Business next year.
Recalling her initial preparation to enter a Diploma course in Retail Management at Temasek Polytechnic, which will be merged into another course, she told TODAY Online: “I was so determined to get myself into that course (and) I even got my write-up prepared for the exercise. Unfortunately, it wasn’t meant to be.”
Several lecturers from the five polytechnics anonymously, in speaking to TODAY Online, simply stated that there will be re-deployment of teaching staff whose courses had been affected by the streamlining move by MOE.