SINGAPORE: About 2,300 students in the Autonomous Universities and polytechnics have been asked to return from their official overseas placements “as soon as practicable”, said the Ministry of Education (MOE). 

Responding to questions from CNA, a spokesperson for the education ministry said it was working closely with institutions and Singapore’s overseas missions “to provide the necessary assistance and support for these students”. 

“This includes providing advice and/or financial support to students who may need help with the cost of returning earlier than expected to Singapore,” said the ministry. 

“Alternative learning arrangements will also be made available to these students so that they are able to meet their academic requirements, at no additional cost to them.”

MOE and the Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) announced on Mar 15 that all overseas placements, including internships and exchange programmes would be suspended until the end of July. 

READ: Universities, polytechnics suspend overseas placements as Singapore widens border restrictions

In its earlier announcement, the education ministry noted that various countries had announced border restrictions, and universities worldwide have moved to full online learning and even closed their campuses, including campus housing.

“The decision to suspend overseas placements was reached after careful consideration of the uncertainties ahead, the fact that the students would be able to access similarly meaningful learning opportunities locally, as well as the well-being of our students and their academic progression,” the education ministry had said.

“MOE will continue to monitor the global situation and work closely with the IHLs to take appropriate measures to ensure the safety and well-being of our students.”

The ministry also sought to allay concerns about the loss of credits earned during students’ overseas placements or exchanges.

“First, there will be no delay in students’ graduation. IHLs will support the affected students by providing alternative learning arrangements. This would include credit-bearing modules during the summer semester or local internship placements,” MOE had said in the press release.

“As most of the affected students are second or third-year students, they also have the option to take additional credits in subsequent years.

“In the coming weeks, the IHLs will work with each affected student to finalise these alternative arrangements.”

On top of the stay-home notice requirements, the IHLs have issued a 14-day leave of absence to all students and staff who returned from overseas from Mar 14, if they did not already receive a stay-home notice, said the education ministry. 

On Mar 18, the multi-ministry task force announced that anyone entering the country, including citizens and residents, will be issued a 14-day stay-home notice. 

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