SINGAPORE: Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs), including local universities and polytechnics, will suspend all overseas placements in light of new border restrictions announced by Singapore on Sunday (Mar 15).
The Ministry of Education (MOE), together with the IHLs, have decided to suspend all official overseas placements, including internships and exchange programmes, until the end of July, MOE said in a press release.
Students who are currently on such overseas placements will be recalled “as soon as is practicable”, and the IHLs will support them with alternative learning arrangements, it added.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Singapore Management University (SMU) on Mar 4 suspended all student exchanges to Italy.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Sunday announced that people who enter Singapore with recent travel history to ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland or the United Kingdom will be issued with a 14-day stay-home notice.
This will take effect from 11.59pm on Monday and applies to all travellers, including Singapore residents, long-term pass holders and short-term visitors, said MOH.
An exception will be made for Singaporeans and Malaysians coming to the country through Singapore’s sea and land crossings with Malaysia, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said. Separate arrangements are currently being worked out by a bilateral joint working group with Malaysia.
NO DELAY IN STUDENTS’ GRADUATION: MOE
MOE noted that various countries have announced similar border restrictions, and universities worldwide have moved to full online learning and even closed their campuses, including campus housing.
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“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,” said the education ministry.
“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,” said MOE.
“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.”
MOE said the alternative arrangements should not impose any additional financial cost to students, and that all additional modules or local internships will not add to the current school fees.