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More students to qualify for Honours Programme: NUS

The National University of Singapore on Thursday announced that it will lower the qualifying requirement for its Honours Programme for three faculties - Arts and Social Sciences, Science and Business.

SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) on Thursday (July 24) announced more students in three faculties - Arts and Social Sciences, Science and Business - will qualify for its Honours Programme from the academic year starting August.

NUS says it is expanding the Honours Programme because it has seen an increase in the quality of students entering the university each year. The change means that between 400 and 500 more students in these three faculties will qualify for Honours each year. The university will also be adopting the US system for its Honours Degree classification, in what it says will be a more accurate reflection of students' accomplishments. 

Every year, some 3,600 students enrol in the faculties of Arts and Social Science, Science as well as the School of Business. At the end of three years, students would traditionally need to maintain a Cumulative Average Point (CAP) of 3.50 - a B-grade average in their modules - in order to qualify for Honours. But from the academic year starting August, new cohorts now need to maintain a CAP of 3.20 to qualify.

The changes will also be extended to two existing cohorts that have yet to graduate - these are students who enrolled in the academic years of 2012/2013 and 2013/2014. The changes will also affect some 100 nursing students under the medical school. 

What this means is that those who qualify for the Honours Programme will increase from 60 per cent of the cohort to between 70 and 75 per cent each year. Ten years ago, NUS says only about half of each cohort qualified.

“Initially, students would not consider doing their honours when they are at a border or 3.5,” said Chen Wei Wei, at third-year student at the science faculty. “But right now dropping to a 3.2 allows them to start thinking, 'Hey maybe I should do an honours degree instead.’"

NUS says the extra year in university will benefit students who will need to be trained to adapt to a rapidly changing job environment, as they will be able to dabble in a range of subjects. But NUS has refrained from introducing a direct four-year programme, unlike other tertiary institutions like the Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore University of Technology and Design.

“We think that the current system of allowing students to exit after three years is a much more efficient system,” Prof Tan Eng Chye, NUS Deputy President, Academic Affairs. “We'd prefer students to stay longer in university for them to have a broader experience, but I guess for some students, giving them the flexibility to exit after three years is a better option for them."

Traditionally, NUS has followed the UK in the naming of its degree programmes. For the Honours Programme, students can graduate with a first class Honours, a second upper, second lower or third class Honours. But over the years, feedback has been that graduating with a second lower or third class honours carries a negative connotation. That is why NUS will now adopt a classification used by US universities.
 

ADOPTING US SYSTEM FOR HONOURS DEGREE CLASSIFICATION

The university will adopt the US system for its Honours degree classification for all faculties, except Law, Medicine, Dentistry and Yale-NUS College. 

The naming changes are:

  • First Class Honours - renamed to Honours (Highest Distinction)
  • Second Class (Upper) Honours - renamed to Honours (Distinction)
  • Second Class (Lower) Honours - renamed to Honours (Merit)
  • Third Class Honours - renamed to Honours

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