SINGAPORE: Two universities are allowing students to take more modules on an ungraded basis to ease concerns about their education during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to emails issued on Wednesday (Mar 25).
The satisfactory/unsatisfactory (S/U) option allows students to take modules on an ungraded basis so that they do not affect their grade point average. This is aimed at encouraging students to explore fields beyond their discipline of study.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) will allow students to exercise the S/U option for up to 10 modular credits for any module taken during the current semester.
This is in addition to the 12 S/U modular credits that students can carry forward from the grade-free year or semester scheme.
The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will allow students to exercise the option for all undergraduate courses taken during the current semester. Students can take up to 20 academic units per semester.
The S/U quota for an NTU student undergoing a four-year programme is typically 12 academic units.
These changes were laid out in emails, seen by CNA, which were sent to students on Wednesday.
"The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Singapore and the NUS community," its provost Professor Ho Teck Hua wrote. "We understand the additional stress this has caused you over the course of the semester."
NTU's provost Prof Ling San said he acknowledged the "concerns and anxieties you are feeling about your education and learning at NTU due to the uncertainties posed by the COVID-19 situation".
On Mar 15, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that students on official overseas placements, including internships and exchange programmes, would be asked to return to Singapore as soon as possible in order to reduce the number of imported cases here.
MOE had said then that the universities would address students' concerns about the loss of credits earned during their exchange or internship programmes. These credits are usually ungraded.
Some university students and faculty members have also contracted COVID-19, shifting some classes and exams online.
NUS' Prof Ho said the changes apply to all modules except final-year projects, honours theses and equivalent modules, "where S/U would not serve you well".
Beyond the S/U adjustment, NTU's Prof Ling announced that deadlines for projects, reports, essays and assignments could be spread out and extended, while continual assessments will only test content taught up to Week 10.
He said students will also be seated 2m apart during examinations and in alternate seats and rows during in-class continual assessments like tests and quizzes.
Prof Ho said he hopes the changes will help students get more out of their learning experiences during this difficult time.
Added Prof Ling: "My colleagues and I will do our best to allay your concerns and at the same time uphold the quality of your learning and education at NTU."
CNA has contacted both universities for comment.