Local universities announce initiatives for financial aid, jobs for graduating students

Local universities announce initiatives for financial aid, jobs for graduating students

SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore (NUS) announced on Friday (Apr 24) an initiative to offer full-time salaried positions and paid traineeships for graduating students, in light of the weakened job market during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students from the graduating class of 2020 can apply for 200 full-time positions within the university, spanning roles in central administration and across the 17 faculties and schools, 29 research institutes and the National University Health System, said the university in a press release.

They may also apply for 800 traineeships in four tracks - education, research, entrepreneurship and executive and professional, said NUS. These positions are launched in partnership with the SG United Traineeships Programme also announced on Friday.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) announced later on Friday that it plans to create “several hundred” paid traineeships to support the programme, and they will be open to the undergraduate class of 2020 from all disciplines.

These traineeships will be available across NTU’s colleges, schools, research centres and institutes, as well as corporate and joint laboratories with “strong industry engagement”, said NTU in a media release. 

The Government will set aside S$100 million to fund the traineeship scheme, said the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and Workforce Singapore (WSG) on Friday. From Jun 1, recent graduates of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE), polytechnics, universities and other institutions will be able to tap on the programme.

READ: Government to set aside S$100 million for traineeship programme amid COVID-19

Traineeships will last up to 12 months and trainees will get a monthly training allowance, based on the scope and skills required for the traineeship.

The Government will fund 80 per cent of the allowance and the trainee’s host company will fund the remainder.

According to WSG and MOM, this monthly training allowance is pegged to 50 to 70 per cent of median starting salaries. Host companies will not have to make CPF contributions for the trainees as “there is no employer-employee relationship” under the programme.

To qualify for the programme, trainees must be a Singapore citizen or permanent resident. They must also have graduated – or be graduating – in the calendar year of 2019 or 2020, or have graduated earlier and completed National Service in 2019 or 2020.

TRAINEESHIPS, COURSE SUBSIDIES

More than 280 organisations across the private and public sectors and institutes of higher learning have offered more than 4,000 traineeships under the programme. The aim is to have up to 8,000 traineeships this year in fields such as life sciences, engineering and the arts.

“Graduating students are concerned that they cannot land good jobs. The idea of the R&G Initiative is to provide them with opportunities that have strong development potential and which will give them an edge in a competitive market,“ said Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS senior deputy president and provost.

All trainees will have access to all of the university’s Continuing Education and Training (CET) courses and certificates for free, said Prof Ho.

Singaporean graduates who receive financial aid will be given priority in receiving these paid traineeships, he added.

READ: Retrenchments and withdrawn job offers: Singapore's labour market shows signs of COVID-19 strain

All fresh graduates in NTU’s class of 2020 will receive an additional S$1,600 in alumni credits that can be used to offset fees at the university's CET courses. This is on top of the existing S$1,600 available to all alumni, said NTU. 

The Ministry of Education also announced on Friday that all 16,000 Singaporean and PR graduates from the class of 2020 across the six autonomous universities will enjoy four complimentary CET modules offered by their universities. 

The joint effort by the Education Ministry, SkillsFuture Singapore and the autonomous universities is “in recognition that with the uncertain economic outlook, some fresh graduates may want to continue their learning and pick up additional skills”. 

SkillsFuture Singapore will provide a subsidy of 70 per cent of course fees for Singaporean and PR graduates, with the universities subsidising the remainder. 

FINANCIAL AID

NTU announced on Wednesday a relief package to provide financial support for students affected by the pandemic. Additional initiatives to help graduating undergraduates find employment will be unveiled next week, said the university in a press release.

Under the relief package, NTU has established a S$2 million OneNTU Fund to support Singapore citizen and PR students “who need immediate assistance due to the COVID-19 outbreak”.

Eligible students may get an interest-free advance of up to S$1,500, which they will reimburse to NTU within two years after graduation, said the university.

READ: ‘Circuit breaker’ rules to incur more pain for Singapore economy, job market - Experts

NTU will also establish the NTU Priorities Fund, driven by private philanthropy. This fund will address “urgent needs” identified by the university and will be used to offer financial assistance to the neediest NTU students affected by COVID-19 “who have no other recourse for help".

“Recipients of support from the fund will pledge to ‘pay it forward’ within two years after graduation and return the interest-free cash assistance to the university,” said the university in the press release.

“COVID-19 has already caused profound social and economic disruptions across the globe, and these effects have hit close to home too. We have students grappling with sudden loss of family income or find that they no longer have part-time jobs and are worried about their daily lives should the situation continue,” said NTU president Subra Suresh.

DEFERRED FEES FOR MASTER’S STUDENTS 

Graduating students who enrol in any Master’s degree programmes at NUS may also defer the payment of course fees for up to three years from the date of enrolment at no interest, said the university.

For NTU final-year PhD and Master’s students who “face difficulties” completing research work within this semester “due to the disruptions caused by the closure of their labs due to COVID-19”, the university will extend their candidature with a full waiver of tuition fees for up to one semester.

This includes PhD and Master’s students on their final year of NTU scholarship, and all other research students in their final year of candidature.

“We will continue to monitor and evaluate these dynamic circumstances and take appropriate measures as the situation evolves,” said Professor Suresh.

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Source: CNA

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