​NTU rolls out qualitative admissions process and new programmes to assess and develop students holistically

Published on : 15-Feb-2019

More students to undergo admissions interviews for holistic assessment
New leadership programme for all undergraduates 
50 weeks of internship under a new Co-operative Education track to deepen industry exposure

Ahead of this year’s admissions, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has announced several initiatives that go beyond quantitative measurements in its admissions process, and to develop students more holistically. 

Admissions interviews to add depth, enhance student quality

Beginning with the admissions process, NTU will conduct interviews for all shortlisted applicants for a third of its degree programmes.  

This year, for 40 of NTU’s 111 undergraduate programmes, shortlisted applicants will undergo a qualitative assessment that is more robust, inclusive and goes beyond grades, employing a broader set of criteria through interviews, aptitude tests or portfolios. 

For the remaining 71 programmes, interviews will also be conducted for high potential candidates who may fall slightly short of the entry score for a degree course, or for those considered based on their talent in fields such as the arts and sports, under Discretionary Admissions. A prospective student who shows passion and enthusiasm for a chosen programme, and potential to succeed may have an edge over a more academically qualified applicant vying for the same course.

This holistic approach has been expanded following its successful pilot last year involving 17 programmes, which included highly competitive, premier programmes such as Medicine and the Renaissance Engineering Programme. 

The 40 programmes adopting this new approach this year include those in Humanities and Social Sciences, such as Chinese, Education, Economics History, Philosophy and Linguistic & Multilingual Studies; and Engineering and Science programmes such as Applied Physics, Biological Sciences, Chemistry & Biological Chemistry, Environmental Earth Systems Science, Mathematical Sciences, Materials Engineering, and Mathematical & Computer Sciences. (See Annex A for the full list of programmes that will conduct interviews for all shortlisted applicants).

Professor Ling San, NTU Provost, said, “NTU’s new holistic approach means that our professors are investing more time, resources and manpower to interview and assess individual students. For a large university like NTU, that requires a huge investment of resources. But we are willing to do so, to better match students’ aspirations and passion for the subject, as long as they can show us that they can cope with the rigours of their chosen degree course.

“Holistic admissions often involve more care – not less work. But for the right applicant, the advantages can be tremendous. For example, we have admitted students who may have totally missed out on a place in a university if they had not been assessed holistically, and they are now excelling in their programmes.”   

Applying to university at age 28 with a 2.4 cumulative grade point average (GPA), Samuel Fong would not have been able to enrol at many universities. Struggling to complete his polytechnic course over eight years, he used to play truant, miss exams or fail his modules, which caused him to be expelled from poly thrice. 

But had NTU not looked at his other polytechnic grades – he scored a perfect 4.0 GPA for his second and third years – and the impression he made on the professors during his admissions interview, Samuel would not have made it to university. Now a Mechanical Engineering student, he has performed exceptionally well in his first semester, with a CGPA of more than 4.5 out of a maximum of 5.0.

Another student who was admitted under the qualitative admissions process last year is Bryan Lim Yuqiang, whose leadership experience and entrepreneurial drive were key factors that earned him a place in NTU’s Nanyang Business School (NBS). The enterprising student had led Millennia Institute’s Entrepreneurship Club, where he organised school-wide activities and introduced new events such as Night Study Sales and MI Social Bazaar that were well-received. 

Bryan said, “Being appointed president of the entrepreneurship club had a great impact on my life’s direction. The most valuable lesson that I gained was being a leader and an entrepreneur. Beyond learning that responsibility, unity and having a sense of direction were important to the club’s overall success, I also realised that as leaders, we should make active contributions to the community around us. Leadership and entrepreneurship strongly complement each another, and I am determined to become an entrepreneur who can make a difference in our world. The quality and dedication of my professors at NBS have convinced me that I have made the right choice.”

Leadership development for undergraduates

To further the success of students such as Samuel and Bryan, NTU will introduce a new leadership programme that will be open to all undergraduates starting this August. The programme will offer multiple levels of training to enable students to discover and develop their leadership skills and potential according to their interest. 

All students will begin with self-assessment modules, and students who desire to further develop their leadership potential will be given the opportunity to undergo increasingly more intensive training and exposure to leadership opportunities within and outside the campus. 

Students who have demonstrated high leadership potential will be invited to undergo leadership training over an entire academic year. This will enable them to apply and hone their leadership skills that will guide them through an experiential learning process, enhanced by coaching and mentorship by alumni, faculty and corporate leaders. 

All participants’ individual leadership development journeys will be captured at each stage, together with the leadership skills that they have developed and acquired. Upon completion of their undergraduate studies, this will be reflected in the graduation transcript, giving them an edge when they apply for jobs.

Greater emphasis on work-study opportunities deepen industry exposure 

With the nature of jobs changing in tandem with the fourth industrial revolution, practical work experience in addition to good grades becomes paramount to help students stay ahead of the curve. 

Under NTU’s new Co-operative Education track for its Bachelor programmes in Mathematical Sciences, Chemistry & Biological Chemistry, and Physics/Applied Physics, students will complete three mandatory internships – 50 weeks in total – within their four years of undergraduate studies.

This combination of classroom-based education and practical work experience comes on the heels of the Applied Wealth Management track, launched last year jointly by NTU and DBS Bank. Under the programme, students undergo two internships with DBS Bank to gain a solid understanding of wealth management, first-hand client interactions and immerse in the digital banking environment at DBS. 

These new work-study initiatives add to the 80 degree programmes that currently require students to undergo internships or work attachments, including those in Engineering, Biological Sciences, Accountancy, Business, Accountancy & Business, Business & Computer Science, Business & Computer Engineering, Communication Studies, Art, Design & Media and Sport Science & Management.

Professor Ling San said, “NTU is committed to assessing and developing students in a more holistic way. Hence, we begin by broadening the way we admit students. Within the curriculum, we begin to provide more ‘relevance’ by including the work-study option. Beyond that, the leadership training will further develop the non-academic qualities of students. Both the work-study and leadership initiatives are ultimately aimed at enhancing their success in work life.

“The leadership programme and longer internships complement each other, as they will enable students to apply what they have learnt to real life, and for employers to make a better assessment of students’ strengths. The alternating semesters of work and study are also a good form of preparation for students’ future careers.”

(Please see Annex B for more information on the Co-operative Education track.)

*** END ***

Media contact:

Feisal Abdul Rahman 
Senior Assistant Director 
Corporate Communications Office 
Nanyang Technological University
Email: feisalar(at)ntu.edu.sg

About Nanyang Technological University

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and Graduate colleges. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).

Ranked 12th in the world, NTU has been placed the world’s top young university for the past five years. The University’s main campus is frequently listed among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world and it has 57 Green Mark-certified (equivalent to LEED-certified) building projects comprising more than 230 buildings, of which 95% are certified Green Mark Platinum. Apart from its main campus, NTU also has a campus in Singapore’s healthcare district.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg


Programmes with Holistic Admissions

1. Renaissance Engineering 
2. Medicine
3. Arts (Education)
4. Science (Education)
5. Bioengineering with a Second Major in Food Science and Technology
6. Bioengineering with a Second Major in Pharmaceutical Engineering
7. Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering with a Second Major in Food Science and Technology
8. Civil Engineering with a Second Major in Society and Urban Systems
9. Electrical and Electronic Engineering with a Second Major in Society and Urban Systems
10. Environmental Engineering with a Second Major in Society and Urban Systems
11. Materials Engineering with a Second Major in Medical Biology
12. Materials Engineering with a Second Major in Pharmaceutical Engineering
13. Mechanical Engineering with a Second Major in Society and Urban Systems
14. Art, Design and Media
15. Chinese
16. Economics & Media Analytics
17. Economics & Psychology
18. Economics & Public Policy
19. English
20. English Literature and Art History
21. History
22. Linguistics and Multilingual Studies
23. Philosophy
24. Psychology and Linguistic & Multilingual Studies 
25. Psychology & Media Analytics
26. Biological Sciences with a Second Major in Food Science and Technology
27. Biological Sciences with Second Major in Biomedical Structural Biology
28. Biological Sciences with Second Major in Food Science and Technology
29. Biomedical Sciences and Biobusiness
30. Biomedical Sciences and Chinese Medicine
31. Chemistry and Biological Chemistry with a Second Major in Food Science and Technology
32. Environmental Earth Systems Science
33. Environmental Earth Systems Science and Public Policy and Global Affairs
34. Mathematical Sciences
35. Mathematical Sciences with Minor in Finance
36. Mathematical Sciences and Economics
37. Mathematics and Computer Sciences
38. Physics
39. Applied Physics
40. Physics with Second Major in Mathematical Sciences


Co-operative Education track

The Co-operative Education track, offered by the NTU School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences (SPMS), aims to improve employability of its graduates by marrying classroom-based education and practical work experience.

Students on this track are to complete three internships totalling 50 weeks. The internship periods fall in:
Year 1 Special Semesters I & II (10 weeks),
Year 2 Special Semesters I & II (10 weeks), and 
Year 3 Semester 2 and Special Semesters I & II OR Year 3 Special Semesters I & II and Year 4 Semester 1 (30 weeks).

Students must successfully secure an internship placement with a participating industrial partner to be admitted to the Co-operative Education track.


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