Sunday, July 3, 2016

Singapore - More Singaporeans expected to choose Australia for higher education

SINGAPORE: More Singaporean students are expected to head to Australian universities to pursue higher education.

This comes after Singapore agreed to recognise more Australian degrees in the fields of law, medicine and allied health, as part of the Singapore-Australia Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.

Details of the agreement were announced last week and it is expected to help address Singapore's manpower needs in those sectors, as well as add diversity to the workforce.

A total of 8,165 Singaporean students were enrolled in Australian institutions in 2015.

IDP Education facilitates the entry of about 1,500 to 2,000 Singaporeans to Australian universities each year, and it is expecting the number to increase.

It said there has been growing interest in the areas of allied health such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy. As such, the move to recognise a range of 15 undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in these areas from institutions such as La Trobe University, Curtin University, University of South Australia and University of Queensland will open up more options for Singaporean students.

Currently, Singaporeans who wish to pursue physiotherapy, for example, can only get a degree locally under a tie-up between the Singapore Institute of Technology and Trinity College Dublin.

"These courses have always been popular, in demand from Singapore (students). We are (facing) an ageing population, so we do get a lot of students who want to practise in all these areas,” said Mr Daryl Fong, country director of IDP Education.

“It would be very good for students to be enrolled in these programmes and also come back to practise these programmes. The numbers will increase because I think not many of them are aware about it and they have probably missed this year's enrolment and application, so probably in the next couple of years, (there will be an increase of) at least 5 to 10 percent per year (in these courses)," Mr Fong added.

Under the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, Singapore will also recognise postgraduate medical degrees from the Australian National University and University of Queensland.

These graduates are expected to help meet the demand for healthcare professionals in Singapore as the Health Ministry steps up recruitment efforts.

The healthcare workforce has already expanded from 46,000 in 2011 to 57,000 in 2015, just 55 per cent of the projected increase in professionals needed between 2011 and 2020.

Those who want to pursue a postgraduate course in law after getting a bachelor's degree in another discipline will have more options as well.

Singapore will be recognising the Juris Doctor degrees awarded by 10 Australian universities, such as the Universities of Sydney and Western Australia. The move is expected to bring greater diversity to the profession.

Mr Amolat Singh, a lawyer at Amolat Singh & Partners, said: "It would mean that we will get people who are more specialised and already trained in fields like finance, engineering, accountancy who then come on to do law; that provides for a richer profession, because these days, the legal profession cannot (stand) solely on its own.

"It needs other kinds of expertise as economies become more complex, so in the longer term, it can only mean better and much more diversely trained ... lawyers.”

Factors such as the favourable exchange rate and proximity are also expected to boost Singaporeans' interest in pursuing studies in Australia.


Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid

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