NUS will be introducing the co-operative education programme from Academic Year 2017/18, which provides opportunities for students to work in a company during their third and fourth years and link what they have studied to real-world issues.
NUS Deputy President (Academic Affairs) and Provost Professor Tan Eng Chye announced that the co-operative education programme will be piloted with 10 to 20 students in each of three emerging areas — Information Security, Business Analytics, and Data Science and Analytics. The University hopes to roll this out to all students majoring in the three subject areas in time to come.
The programme builds on the NUS Overseas Colleges concept, whereby students interleave their studies at NUS with a one-year attachment to a company. The co-operative education programme, however, will lengthen this period to about 18 months, including vacation periods, without delaying graduation. Students will spend their entire third year on an internship while participating in online and blended learning at NUS. They will also spend about 20 per cent of their fourth year attached to the same company.
Internships are currently mandatory for Engineering and Computing students at NUS and close to 70 per cent of all NUS students take up an internship during their course of study. With the co-operative education programme, the University hopes to raise this number.
“I think students these days are very mindful that it is important to have internships,” said Prof Tan. “We want to make sure our students are well entrenched in the key fundamentals, that is why I think a lot of time is focused on their major, but we are also telling faculties and departments to free up time for internships. Of course, everything is dependent on the internships being meaningfully integrated into the curriculum.”
To this extent, Prof Tan shared that NUS would work closely with reputable companies to ensure careful planning and implementation of the internships, with clear and measurable learning outcomes at various stages. Students will also be guided by a respective supervisor from NUS as well as the company.
“This is also very useful for bringing the university closer to the industry because the students can act as a valuable conduit. They go out and face the problems and they can bring it back to the professors who would have the techniques and methodologies to help solve the problem,” added Prof Tan.