With the setting up of new universities, NTU and NUS are no longer the de facto choices of universities for talented students. SUSS was originally UniSIM, Singapore’s only private university. Today, it is Singapore’s 6th local university. That makes it a local university that is one of a kind. Let’s look deeper into this special university.
SUSS was originally UniSIM, which was under the SIM group (confusing right). UniSIM started in 2005 and was granted the status of a national university in 2012 when it began offering its own degrees. In the beginning, it only provided part-time courses catering to working adults, but in 2014, full-time degree programs became a reality as part of the government’s plan to allow 40% of each cohort to attend local universities.
In 2016, UniSIM accepted the offer from Singapore’s government to become the sixth autonomous university. The rest, as they say, is history.
SUSS currently offers 8 full-time degree programs—in the areas of Accountancy, Finance, Marketing, Human Resource Management, Early Childhood Management, Social Work, Business Analytics and Supply Chain Management respectively.
Accountancy is offered as a single major degree whereas finance, marketing and HR degrees come with minors in over 30 fields: accountancy, analytics, communication, human resource, IT, psychology, sociology or supply chain management being just a few of them. Their Human resource management degree is the only one found in Singapore unlike in NTU, SMU or NUS in which finance, HR and marketing are specializations within a business degree.
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As mentioned above, SUSS offers degrees in finance, HR and marketing respectively. This is ideal for individuals who have decided on their interests earlier on in life. You lock on to it from day 1 of university and spend a longer amount of time delving deeper into your subject matter. Bearing in mind that finance is usually the most oversubscribed major in NTU, SMU and NUS, locking on to your course is something very valuable.
In recent years, SUSS has had a number of interesting tie-ups with various organisations and institutions, such as Alibaba, IAL, and NYP, to offer programmes like the ALIBABA CLOUD-SUSS Certificate/Minor in Entrepreneurship and the NYP–SUSS Work and Learn Programme for Social Work. As the university matures, there will surely be more exciting opportunities to come.
Just a note: undergraduate modules are typically taught over a 6-week term, with weekly 3-hour seminars. This is one notable difference the school has over the other autonomous universities.
One thing that is distinct about SUSS’s program is the requirement for service learning. It is basically doing voluntary work, but with a professional twist. Instead of just sweeping the floor at the old folk’s home, you get to embark on a project for a non-profit organization applying the skills you learn in school. This mandatory component is consistent with SUSS’s mission of nurturing professionals with conscience and love for the society.
It may remind you of SMU’s compulsory 80 hours of community service work that students have to undertake, the difference being that SMU harps on the number of hours whereas SUSS is adamant that you have to hone your soft skills through a project. This move makes perfect sense, even from a career perspective, given that there is a portion in your resume that you can fill in your voluntary experience.
There seems to be a large emphasis on personal development outside the classroom in SUSS as students are also mandated to take an OBS leadership course alongside other life skills workshop. Companies are increasingly looking for holistic individuals and that’s where you, as a potential SUSS student, can stand out.
Work Attachment and Overseas Exposure
Work attachment wise, SUSS has similar offerings as its 5th brother in the local university family, SIT: a 24 weeks-long work attachment. Not surprisingly, both pride themselves as practice-oriented universities that produce graduates ready for the workforce, instead of the academic world. SUSS goes one step further to say that their work attachment is structured to help you reach specific learning goals, unlike traditional internships (where you might get exploited).
Overseas experience is mandatory in SUSS, which has to be good news for you! Because that is one of the joys of studying in a university. Fret not, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be away from your home for a good few months, as they have a variety of overseas programs in the form of working, volunteering or studying overseas with different durations. You can definitely find one suitable for you.
SUSS adopts the same GPA system as NTU. GPA of 4.5 and above upon graduation gives you a first class honour, 4.0 and above a 2nd upper class and so on.
All their degrees are also direct honours in nature which means that your grade at the end of your university stint determines your honours classification. This is in contrast to NUS business course’s system, where you have to study an additional year to qualify for honours.
Another unique aspect of SUSS’s course structure is its flexibility. Originally catering to working adults with a hectic work schedule, SUSS retains its flexibility for full-time students in planning their course schedule. Students can complete their program in 4 to 6 years. They can even take more classes in the evening and graduate in lesser than 4 years.
Students pay tuition fees by the number of modules they take, so there are no worries of incurring hefty fees should you decide to graduate later. Students can even switch from full time to part time studies if they found a job. E-learning capability that allows you to attend your lesson anywhere, anytime, also plays a part in creating more flexibility for their students.
In fact, SUSS has also launched an E-textbook initiative to promote portability and environmental friendliness. Adopted by many modules, those that issue E-textbooks will not issue physical textbooks; the former can be downloaded and kept for up to 8 years, and up to a year for courses that you are not enrolled in. Like physical texts, students can make highlights and take notes, and are also able to create bookmarks and even virtual flashcards for revision if necessary.
Speaking of attending lessons in the evening, there are certain modules that are conducted only in the evening which you have to attend. Before you start lamenting, think again. This gives you a chance to meet the part-time students who are working adults! Given that SUSS’s part-time courses only admits working adults with at least 2 years of working experience, this presents valuable networking opportunities with experienced people in your industry! Trust us, it is easier to get a job by knowing a senior within the company than by sending your resume over which gets stacked up with hundreds and thousands of other resumes.
As mentioned earlier, SUSS has a unique pay-as-you-study scheme to inject flexibility into its curriculum. This is, again, different from other local universities in which you pay by the number of years/semesters you are in school. Check out more here.
Also, being the 6th local university in Singapore, students in SUSS can enjoy the tuition grant by the government as well as various other financial aids such as CPF education, bursary, study loans and so on. Click here to learn more about financial aids.
SUSS’s Admission Requirements
If you come from poly and have a GPA of 3 and above, you are quite safe. There is no guarantee as many other factors come into play here. For example, if you are applying to a course which is related to what you have studied before. i.e. Diploma in accountancy or you scored well in maths for A levels, you gain a higher chance. Non-academic achievements are also scrutinized. There is no IGP released yet.
SUSS is stating up front that they are looking for all-rounded individuals and are asking for essentially everything that proves that about you: testimonials, certificates, working experiences etc. Read how to increase your chance of getting into a local university.
Also, bear in mind that SUSS’s unique positioning is that they are a college with a heart. Of course, they want students with a heart who could fit into their culture. You have to demonstrate that. It’s not too late to go and do some voluntary work now.
Note that all shortlisted applicants will be called upon to attend admission selections at SUSS.
They will send a video and research topic to applicants to view & research (at least 1 week in advance).
On the actual day, you will be required to write an essay (30 min). Materials prepared 1 week ago will be useful and relevant to the essay question however, you are not allowed to make any references.
Then, you will take an online cognitive test (12 min). Thereafter, you will be involved in a Group Discussion and lastly a 1-on-1 interview. Entire process outlined below will take about 3 hours.
If you are having cold sweat just reading this portion, fret not. Don’t be deterred by their extensive selection process, because everyone feels intimidated just like you. The best advice we can give is to apply anyway!
Life after graduation
For SUSS students, learning doesn’t stop after graduation. All SUSS alumni receive SGD 500 in lifelong learning credit, which they can use to pay for any course or workshop (T&Cs apply) organised by SUSS’s Centre for Continuing and Professional Education. Apart from this, alumni also get to take up to 2 “free” modular courses within 2 years of graduation under the ACE+ scheme.
Interestingly, SUSS grads are given an edge through enhanced transcripts and an e-portfolio. The former comprises module grades that reflect 18 generic skills and competencies, while the latter consists of the students’ reflections on the courses they have taken—not forgetting skills gained from overseas experiences, community service projects and internships. These help students and employers identify strengths, evaluate performances, and career map.
SUSS’s pioneer batch of full-time graduates graduated in 2018, and they do not lose out to the other autonomous universities in employment rates. In the 2018 GES, SUSS reported that 95.5% gained employment within six months, with the median salary of those who found full-time employment being $3000.
Your Time is Now
So, you see, there’s really a silver lining behind every dark cloud. If you were worried about where to go for your university studies, because maybe you didn’t make the cut for the University of your liking, there are other better universities meant for you. You just need to be more open to the options available.
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