Amid a challenging global environment, educational institutions, including Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP), have a key part to play in preparing students for an increasingly uncertain world constantly disrupted by technology. Accordingly, NP took strides this financial year to position our students and staff to be future-ready. We enhanced our curriculum and pedagogy, worked with industry partners on new programmes and restructured our organisation to better meet new challenges.
To stay on top of industry trends and ensure students attain relevant knowledge and skills, we introduced new diplomas and refreshed some of our course offerings.
We embarked on a strategic direction to identify key learning approaches that engage and enable our students to act and think like professionals in their field of study. Termed as Signature Pedagogies in the Professions, this will enhance the profession-specific skills development of our courses.
Beyond this, our School of InfoComm Technology revamped the curricula for several diplomas. Students taking the Diploma in Information Technology are able to tailor their course to their interests by choosing electives from seven different areas, thus giving them greater autonomy in what they learn. The Diploma in Financial Informatics will deepen students’ IT foundation and coding skills to prepare them to meet the growing needs of the FinTech ecosystem. Students from the Diploma in Multimedia & Animation will be better equipped with design, technical and conceptual skills to meet new industry demands in immersive technologies such as augmented and virtual reality.
In collaboration with Business China, we launched a new Certificate in China Readiness elective programme, a first-of-its-kind in a polytechnic, to give students an edge in engaging with the global powerhouse. We also launched a customised Diploma in Business Studies that offers student-athletes from the Singapore Sports School an “athlete-friendly” curriculum that enables them to pursue both academic and sporting excellence. To cater to the need for more Tamil language teachers in pre- and primary schools, a new diploma – Tamil Studies with Early Education – was announced in June 2016, with the inaugural intake starting in April 2017.
Building upon the SkillsFuture-related programmes launched last year, we continued to deepen ties and foster collaborations with industry partners. We launched several SkillsFuture Earn and Learn Programmes (ELPs). These structured work-study programmes are designed to give fresh polytechnic graduates a career head start related to their field of study. The ELPs include: the Advanced Diploma in Accountancy, and Specialist Diplomas in Electrical Design and Operation, Marine Design, Veterinary Clinical Practice, and Sustainable Facilities Management. More Skills-Based Modular Courses (SBMCs) were also made available this year. These are modular and bite-sized learning options that take into consideration the demands of working adults. Over 100 SBMCs were offered; we are on track to attain 100% modularisation for all part-time diploma courses by 2020.
To grow the entrepreneurial ecosystem by supporting budding entrepreneurs as well as those seeking to venture beyond Singapore, our CET Academy inaugurated a Travel and Learn Programme. In the first run, participants gained valuable exposure to business markets in Myanmar and established networks there, which will give them an edge in expanding their business ventures.
To ensure that students get relevant industry exposure while staff stay updated on industry knowledge and trends, NP continued its relentless efforts to secure collaborations with key players in various industries.
In 2016, we led the signing of pan-polytechnic Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with Monetary Authority of Singapore and Singapore FinTech Association, to better equip students for jobs in the FinTech sector. We also kick-started PolyFinTech 100, an initiative that successfully got 100 companies on board to provide internship or mentorship for students, in this fast-evolving arena.
MOUs were also inked with leading organisations in the infocomm technology and aerospace sectors, with the likes of Microsoft, Infocomm Media Development Authority and Bombardier, to name a few.
We sought myriad opportunities for staff and students to effectively utilise and further deepen their knowledge and skills whilst also benefitting the community. For example, our School of Engineering (SoE) piloted five technological innovations with Pearl’s Hill Care Home, resulting in more efficient healthcare for its elderly residents and boosting staff productivity. SoE also developed five NP RoboCoaches, robotic fitness instructors that help encourage the elderly to exercise, for deployment at three voluntary welfare organisations. At our School of Design & Environment, students designed a motorised cleaning tricycle that is easier to manoeuvre and more ergonomically friendly for elderly estate cleaners.
Also noteworthy are the achievements of our Environmental & Water Technology Centre of Innovation who worked with industry partners to commercialise two of its successful pilot projects: a new electrospinning system, NF-StarTM, which can produce flat sheet nanofibers on a larger scale and at a lower cost; and X Cool, an anti-solar fireproof paint that keeps buildings cooler.
NP strongly believes in nurturing an innovation and enterprise culture. The pilot batch of our Global Entrepreneurial Internship Programme (GEIP) students, who interned with startups at Silicon Valley, returned in October 2016. Following the successful pilot run, our second batch of GEIP students headed to Silicon Valley, Jakarta, Shanghai, and Finland, and completed their six-month stint in February 2017. All our GEIP students received glowing feedback from their employers, and about two-thirds were even offered extensions.
We started Campus Ecosystem, a programme that aims to have 100 start-ups and innovative companies running pilots, prototypes and trials using our campus as a testbed. Through this programme, we aim to transform the way students learn and the way we work, focusing on four areas of innovation – Student Life, Teaching & Learning, Work Culture, and Work Processes. To date, some 12 start-ups have come on board.
A new Enterprise-in-Residence scheme was also launched to enable NP to better integrate with industry by allowing selected companies to set up their base on campus. Such integration facilitates and accelerates transfer of expertise, allowing staff and students to more conveniently gain deeper insights into industry standards and functions as well as fill knowledge gaps.
We are gratified that beyond academic pursuits, our students have made their mark in various fields, both locally and abroad. For example, our Business & Social Enterprise students won second place in the Asia Pacific Co-operative Youth Summit for their business idea on setting up a co-operative that will look into reducing exploitation of and promoting fair income for migrant workers in Singapore. A total of 18 engineering and health science students participated in the World Skills Singapore competition, sweeping five medals in all. Our Environmental & Water Technology student Jeremia Christy Suriadi recovered from a serious accident to win second place in the 2016 ITU Asian Cup Triathlon in Subic Bay, Philippines.
In our aim to be a big-hearted community, NP ComServe, an initiative to promote volunteerism, organised NP Bailout, a campaign to encourage students and staff to set aside their time towards charitable causes. For the year under review, NP ComServe clocked up more than 6,000 man-hours of service. Our annual Walk for Rice saw higher participation numbers with over 55,300 bowls of rice being donated to the needy in Singapore, marking a 50% increase compared to 2015. More than $81,000 was also raised for the NP Student Aid Fund via activities like the NP Arts Fiesta and Run for Fund.
On the organisation’s front, we revamped our organisational structure to better position NP in meeting new challenges and imperatives. Under the reorganisation, effective from 1 October, four key pillars of focus were identified. Schools and departments were regrouped under these four pillars: Schools; Academic & Student Life; Technology, Partnerships & Planning; and Corporate. The Schools and Academic & Student Life pillars focus on academic excellence and holistic student development. The Technology, Partnerships & Planning pillar looks into preparing NP for the future whilst the Corporate pillar drives organisational excellence.
Several enhancements were made to NP’s physical environment. More purpose-built facilities in the form of research laboratories, lecture theatres, and study areas were added this year and buildings like our School of Business & Accountancy were given facelifts.
We are also very excited about our plan to transform NP into a smart campus. Kicking off the smart campus blueprint is the setting up of our School of InfoComm Technology’s Smart Learning Spaces, to be ready in the second half of 2017. These digital learning spaces will include features and technologies to enhance collaborative and applied learning and prepare our students for the future of digital disruptions.
The future economy presents us both challenges and opportunities, including a fundamental shift in the way we work, learn and teach. As a well-regarded institution of higher learning, NP is committed to playing a bigger role in developing a pipeline of talent for the various industries, reinventing ourselves to support the national agenda of lifelong learning, and harnessing our capabilities to exploit new opportunities in the evolving economy. While keeping our pulse on future trends, we will stay true to our vision, mission and values, and continue to build NP from strength to strength. NP’s achievements would not have been possible without the hard work and dedication of our staff. We are most thankful to our staff as well as our Council members, Advisory Committees, industry and academic partners, donors, parents, and all other stakeholders. We look forward to your unwavering support in 2017 and beyond.