SINGAPORE: Students who join the Singapore Management University (SMU) from August this year will have to participate in at least one overseas programme in order to graduate, the school announced on Thursday (Mar 22).
In a media release, the school said that undergraduates stand to gain a "strong competitive edge" from global exposure.
In view of this, the university will "ramp up opportunities and support for its students, and ensure that every single one of them enters the workforce with overseas experience", it said.
This will involve augmenting its existing opportunities, introducing new forms of global exposure activities and enhancing its support to make sure no student will miss out on global exposure opportunities due to financial difficulties, it added.
The school said it currently has a range of university-funded and donor-supported financial assistance schemes at SMU that needy students can tap on for their overseas activities and programmes. It also offers a loan for overseas student programmes, with no income criterion.
SMU's global exposure programmes include international exchange programmes, overseas internships, study mission modules that include overseas trips, participating in international competitions or performances for co-curricular activities as well as overseas community service projects.
SMU Vice-Provost (Undergraduate Matters) Lim Kian Guan said that having global exposure from the vantage of a university education is "invaluable" for international networking and also open doors to bigger opportunities.
"When students approach their global exposure opportunities with an enthusiastic and open mind, the benefits are immense. Academically, gaining a first-hand, real-world perspective of issues learnt in the classroom serves to deepen students’ learning and knowledge application. More importantly, the journey builds independence, empathy, open-mindedness, not to mention soft-skills like communication and teamwork."
Professor Lim said that close to 90 per cent of the university's graduates are already using at least one of SMU’s opportunities to experience the world.
"Many are often so enriched that they opt to go on a second type of global exposure activity or programme. Going forward, we want to make sure no SMU student graduates without this precious global experience,” he added.
According to SMU, 87 per cent of the schools' graduates last year participated in at least one global exposure activity during their university education, with 55 per cent having participated in at least two.
About 64 per cent participated in an international exchange programme, 55 per cent went abroad for overseas community service projects, 24 per cent went on study missions, 14 per cent represented the university in international competitions or performances and 6 per cent were involved in overseas internships.
The university said its efforts to augment its programmes include establishing new university partnerships for exchange programmes, intensifying talks with companies for overseas internships and organising cultural exchange and immersion programmes.
It is also looking to increase the number of study missions, especially to Asia, it said.
"With Singapore’s ASEAN Chairmanship this year, it is especially important that our young undergraduates are given more opportunities to gain a good grasp and understanding of ASEAN, learn about the opportunities and challenges, as well as network and engage with their counterparts and with organisations in the region,” Prof Lim said.
OVERSEAS EXPOSURE ALSO A KEY COMPONENT OF CURRICULUM AT OTHER UNIVERSITIES
Students at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) also have opportunities for overseas exposure, both universities told Channel NewsAsia.
At NTU, 8 in 10 undergraduates have at least one overseas exposure during the course of their studies, NTU’s deputy provost (education) Kam Chan Hin said. This includes student exchanges, summer programmes, internships and attachments, field studies, humanitarian work and international competitions.
There are also “signature programmes” where overseas exposure is a “hallmark”, Prof Kam added. For example students from the Renaissance Engineering Programme will spend a year abroad doing internships and studying at a partner university.
Students from the CN Yang Scholars Programme can also spend eight months overseas to work on their final-year project, and students in the programme also go on overseas educational trips to universities or research institutes in their first year, said NTU.
Even though overseas stints are not a graduation requirement at NUS, the university said a “majority” of its students have chosen and benefitted from them. “During their time with NUS, students can participate in a wide range of programmes, such as student exchange, internships and study trips,” said NUS.
For example, in the NUS Overseas Colleges programme, students can intern for up to a year with start-ups, and also study at partner universities in places like Silicon Valley and New York. About 2,000 students have had this opportunity to date, said NUS.
It added that it will expand its NUS Overseas Colleges programme in the new academic year, to include new internship opportunities in Southeast Asia and Toronto.