University of Birmingham Degree in SIM Singapore: what you need to know before diving in

Most of the time, with product reviews, you’d compare your experience with two competing options, looking at things like design, features, specifications, user experience. It’s easy to put them side by side, manipulate them the same way, rate them on different measures. With education however, its often much more difficult given that most people wouldn’t actually do more than one bachelor’s degree in their lifetime. Sure, people could compare their experiences, but the key thing is that two people may have very different accounts of the same experience. We could compare objective measures of the same degree programmes published in rating sites, but some of the most important considerations in a university experience – the faculty and teaching quality, the content and their mode of delivery, the learnings from each module – are difficult to adequately compare between different courses.

I’d say that I’ve had a really solid university experience doing a University of Birmingham (UOB) degree in Singapore. I was exposed to opportunities during my university life that later landed me a job offer before I graduated, with a higher than average salary despite unfavourable market conditions. In this article, I’ll be sharing some of the pros and cons which led me to this favourable view, and in the process hopefully share something to help prospective students see if the UOB degree is something suited to their needs.
clocktower-in-the-university-of-birmingham-campus

Old Joe – The iconic clocktower in the University of Birmingham Campus – which I unfortunately have never been to ;_;

First off, a bit of background.

Back in 2012, having done terribly for my A-levels, I was looking for options to get better educated, and hopefully land myself a decent job. SIM was the default next choice after the 3 public universities, and I narrowed my choices down to two. Either the University of London BSc (Hons) Business or the University of Birmingham BSc (Hons) Business Management degree. The pivotal factor for me was the fact that the UOB degree was going to be assessed in a mixture of exams, assignments, and projects. If there was one thing I learnt from A-levels is that I don’t do great in one-exam-decides-all settings, hence UOL was out. There was one major issue however… Birmingham only accepted students coming in with a diploma as they only ran years 2 and 3 in Singapore, meaning I had to do a diploma to get in.

I took the leap and went for the 15-month SIM Diploma in Management Studies which, thankfully, was also assessed in a mix of exams and assignments, a story for another day. Suffice to say I did great (really great in fact… 3.83/4 J) and got into the UOB degree programme.

With a small enrolment of just over 200 students in its 5th Intake in 2013, it’s not surprising that few have heard of the University of Birmingham (UoB) suite of business degrees offered in Singapore at the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM). As compared to the more popular University of London (UOL) and Royal Melbourne Insitute of Technology (RMIT) suite of programmes which have a combined student population of over 20,000, the UoB business degree cohort is tiny.

Essential info

Duration: 2 years full-time, split into 2 semesters each year

Semester 1: Jul – Oct ->Semester 2: Nov – Feb -> Break: Mar – Jul

As at the time of writing, there are 4 bachelor’s degree courses offered by the University of Birmingham in Singapore.

  • BSc (Hons) Business Management (I took this, mods shown below)
  • BSc (Hons) Business Management with Communications
    • Has a different selection of mods, although with a considerable overlap
    • Mandatory communications-related internship
  • BSc (Hons) Business Management with Industrial Placement
    • Same mods as Business Management
    • Mandatory internship in an industry of your choice
  • BSc (Hons) International Business
    • Same mods as Business Management
    • Two semesters overseas with a choice of mods based on the host university’s schedule

Module Listing for the Business Management Programme: Note that some of these modules have been dropped from the current syllabus and replaced with others. To give you a feel of the course, these are the ones I took. These mods were non-negotiable.

YearModule (in no particular order)Assessment Mode
2Change ManagementExam
International MarketingExam
Markets, Competition and RegulationAssignment + Exam
Market ResearchAssignment
Business AccountingExam
Managerial FinanceExam
Research SkillsAssignment
Services MarketingExam
Event ManagementPresentation + Assignment
Operations ManagementPresentation + Assignment
3Globalisation, Transnationals, and Economic PolicyAssignment + Exam
e-MarketingPresentation + Assignment
EntrepreneurshipAssignment + Exam
Strategic ManagementAssignment + Presentation + Exam
DissertationAssignment (Duh)
Brand MarketingPresentation + Assignment
Employee RelationsExam
Social Marketing and Societal IssuesExam

 

1) I’ll start with the most important aspect of the programme: Faculty and teaching quality.

I believe that this is where UOB really scores top marks. Faculty members are all flown in to teach in Singapore by the University for each module. They spend 2-4 weeks in Singapore in a decent hotel and during that time, you’ll get one lecture from them each weekday they are here, sometimes but very rarely on Saturdays too (once or twice in each academic year, if at all). Depending on the prof, they may include tutorials. The most important bit here is that they are the same people who run the same mods back in the UK, and they set the exam papers for each class.

Most of the profs I had were passionate about teaching their subject, and taught their subject well. Being faculty members, they do their own research and publish their own papers in their specific areas of research as well, which they’d be delighted to share more about when asked. If you are looking for an overseas teaching style, this is a prime choice. You’ll get an actual UK University faculty to deliver the same lectures in the same style as they would in the UK right here in Singapore.

2) Content and Learning Style

If there’s one thing that struck me, it’s how many of my classmates were surprised at the lack of “answer keys”. In social sciences, there is no such thing as a ‘correct’ answer. There is only your stand and how you justify it with published research, examples, ideas, or models. So unless you’re doing a mod in finance or accounting, there is no such thing as a ‘correct’ answer. Even in those supposedly quantitative subjects, up to half of the exams can be essays asking you, for example, to explain the benefit of one accounting model as opposed to another.

This learning style is something that most of us would not be exposed to much in our school lives, particularly in Singapore. Before university, there are usually ‘correct’ answers to everything, even in subjects like General Paper. Yet, this sort of learning style is precisely what is differentiating about the Birmingham Business School experience. It’s not like what you’d experience in a Singapore school taught by Singaporean teachers, where disagreeing with the teacher with loses you marks.

I’d caution that while I really liked this learning style, I’m by no means saying that it isnecessarily superior. Many of my classmates would have preferred a learning style where they are encouraged to adopt a specific school of thought instead of having to make that decision themselves. At times, the teaching style may leave you feeling vulnerable like as if you didn’t learn anything simply because the prof is exposing you to different perspectives instead of encouraging you to adopt theirs. In the first semester, some of my classmates dropped out because they felt the teaching style was difficult for them to follow. It is up to you to decide if you learn best with this approach.

3) Lecture Schedule

As mentioned earlier, each module is delivered within two to four weeks. I enrolled in the BSc Business Management course, which is 240 credits. For 10 credits, you get an average of 10 lectures. Some modules are 10 credits, some are 20 credits. You’d get more contact time by opting for the BSc International Business programme, which is 360 credits and gives you two semesters overseas; one onsite at the University of Birmingham, and one more with a global partner of UOB. I was indeed jealous of those awesome photos that some of my International Business friends got studying in places like Copenhagen, Boston, Munich, and Seoul. That said, I was busy doing my banking internship which ultimately landed me a job, which in retrospect may have been preferable depending on your preferences.

This lecture schedule is a 50-50. Some may thrive in this format where you can focus only on one module for a few weeks, really getting into the thick of it. Others would have liked the modules to be spread throughout the semester instead. Bearing in mind that any exams that we’d have to take would be at the end of each semester, it may be difficult to refocus on content that was delivered at the start of the semester. Personally, I liked the structure, and didn’t really have a problem going through my learning material from early in the semester before the exams. I felt that being able to focus on just a single module at a time allowed me to immerse myself in the research and the various views within a particular field of study. This led to better understanding and aided me in forging my own views in each specific topic area.

ang-mohs

My Degree Congregation Ceremony – The ang mohs pictured are the real faculty members from the UK!

4) Degree Certificate Recognition

This is probably a question that weighs heavily on the minds of most prospective students. In case you’re wondering what these two years of study gets you, rest assured to know that the degrees you are given are identical to those that would be awarded in the UK. There is absolutely no sign on the degree cert that you studied in Singapore. Personally, I wouldn’t try to hide the fact that I took the degree in Singapore at SIM, I do not see how it makes me an inferior graduate.

Though some employers may look down on private degrees earned in Singapore, most private sector employers no longer discriminate solely on that basis. I secured an internship at a major US bank after year 2, which landed me a job offer even before my final exams. It’s incredible to walk into the exam halls with no worries about employment, particularly in a year where graduate employment rates are dropping.And no, it was not gotten through connections or friends, I got it through attending a recruitment event and applying online.

On the whole, I enjoyed my experience doing a Birmingham degree in Singapore. While I would have liked to go to the UK to do it, I have to face the fact that I was broke and didn’t want to spend more money going overseas. What I got in Singapore turned out to be a wonderful experience nonetheless. On that note, I sincerely hope that this article helped you make a more informed decision on your bachelor’s degree. I’d be happy to answer any questions in the comments below!

38 COMMENTS

  1. Hello, I will be finishing SIM DMS in a few months and I’m still confused whether to take UOB or RMIT for a business management degree. I’ve heard from many people that UOB is harder than RMIT, I also don’t like to have a stressful uni experience. Here’s my dilemma at the moment

    Choosing RMIT
    Pros: Less stress (many people told me its easier than UOB, don’t really know for sure)
    Cons: I’m worried that it will be harder for me to look for a job since RMIT doesn’t have honours like UOB and RMIT’s rankings are also lower

    Choosing UOB
    Pros: Many people say its more prestigious (but will it help better when looking for a job? I don’t know)
    Cons: Many say its harder so I’m worried that I will be stressed out compared to going to RMIT

    And also, do employers in Singapore care on where the applicants do their uni? For example in my case, will the employers care if I graduate from UOB or RMIT? and if so, how big is the difference.

    Thank you very much!

    • Dear Robert,

      Learning to deal with stress is one of the most important skills you’ll learn in life. I believe that if you are afraid of being stressed, university is probably the best time to learn to deal with it. You certainly will be at a disadvantage if you only learn to deal with stress on your first job. I strongly suggest you do not make life decisions based on whether something might stress you out.

      I can’t comment on whether RMIT is easier to complete, or whether its easier to get a job after – to be honest there are no sources with evidence on graduate employment that compare these two partner universities in SIM. I am obviously biased towards my own course.

      That said, I can comment on the typical student profile in UOB. The majority of UOB students in Singapore tend to be from the polys and tend to have above average GPAs because there is an GPA or grade cutoff you need to meet for the local polys as well as the DMS. In my year, people were generally quite motivated and as a result, we do generally quite well both in terms of grades and in terms of our first jobs. People have gotten roles in the major banks, audit firms, and consulting firms just to name a few, and with decent graduate salaries.

      That’s not to say that graduates from RMIT can’t get the same jobs – they can. Ultimately, you should not focus so much on the actual degree cert. There’s a smaller difference between the two degree certs than the individual differentiating factors you can work on personally. Instead, the bigger determinant of where you’ll end up after you graduate is going to be how you make yourself stand out beyond from your degree.

      Focus on improving your cv and getting meaningful experience that will help you land your first job. Picking up soft skills such as communicating with people, negotiating, learning to learn and unlearning, building work relationships, and managing your own tasks are all probably skills that you wouldn’t otherwise learn in class, which will help you succeed in your first job and beyond. Work on these and you’ll end up in a much better place than your peers in either degree programme.

      All the best in your final semester!

  2. Hello! I am a fellow A-level student here too and am intending to take the same route as you did. Do you think the diploma programme will be slightly more manageable for A-Level students given that the curriculum they were exposed too in jc was more in-depth and demanding? Thank you! :)

    • Hi Tricia,

      It really depends on whether you think business and management topics are more interesting to you than the subjects you took for A-levels. I personallly found them easier to manage because I was more interested in these topics than the H2 subjects I took; Physics, Chem, and Maths. But your experience may differ if you find financial accounting or economics boring. I took H1 econs at A-level and found that the topics and depth of learning was not too different from what was covered in A-levels, and on top of that curriculum time is greatly compressed in the diploma programme. Don’t forget that you’re doing a full diploma in one-third of the usual time and you will definitely feel like the pace is quickened.

      Bottomline, if you think that you are willing to put in effort and be consistent this time around, then the DMS is a solid choice to quickly get you on track for a degree programme. Specifically, you must attain a minimum grade B in all your diploma mods to qualify for the UOB programme.

      All the best!

  3. Hi, I am interested in the business management course that you’ve taken in UOB but can’t decide if I should choose UOL or UOB to do it. Given the modules, is UOB’s 2 year course very demanding and packed? How are the assignments / projects and exams like? Would appreciate your reply, thanks.

    • Hi Rachel,

      I suppose by “demanding and packed” you mean to ask whether the modules require alot of time spent to study and complete assignments. In this course, you are roughly expected to spend 60 hours completing a 10-credit module, and 120 hours on a 20-credit module. Of this, about half the time will be spent in lectures, and the other half on completing tutorials, assignments, and self-study. Given that our professors fly in from the UK (at least before COVID restrictions), you will be doing a 10-credit module over 2 weeks. This works out to being in school 5 days a week for 3 hours a day in lectures, and (an expected) 3 hours a day on assignments and self-study.

      Time spent in lectures is somewhat non-negotiable, but the amount of time spent on assignments and self-study is entirely up to you. It will vary between students of different aptitude based on the subject, as well as how well you want to score in the module and your degree overall. In some modules, I found that I can do well by just focusing during the lectures, taking notes, and doing some revision before exams. In others, I found that I had to spend a lot of time on self-study and practice because I did not grasp the concepts easily. There are no mandatory practice assignments or “homework” that is graded by the lecturer, unlike in Poly or JC where your lecturer/teacher will grade your regular assignments and homework. Instead, you usually at most get 1 assignment per module, which is graded once and counts towards your score for the module. 10-credit modules usually only either have just one assignment, or just one exam, while 20-credit modules may have both.

      To be honest, I was initially aiming for a first class honours, but decided to settle for a second upper and instead get an internship, work part time, involve myself in CCA, and have a life in general. I found these experiences to be far more enriching than just scoring the top grade, and a second upper is a very respectable grade for most people. You will need to adjust your goal based on what you hope to get out of this degree, and tune your effort accordingly. In general, I think aiming for a second upper strikes the right balance of showing academic aptitude while creating time for other fruitful activities and pursuits.

      On top of school, I also found time to work part-time, be active in CCA and campus activities, and keep a girlfriend happy, so I think its fairly manageable :)

      Understand its been a few months, but hope this helps!

  4. Hi. I have done my diploma in SIM and having some uncertainty about choosing UOL or UOB to study Accounting and Finance degree programmes. Because I’m worried about the 100% exam base of UOL but I’m not sure if the UOB is suitable for me or not. In addition, English is not my first language as UOB are UK lecturers. UOB is easy to pass or not? Do you have any recommendations? Thanks.

    • Hi Khai Qi,

      I wouldn’t say UOB is easy to pass, especially since you said that English is not your first language. Being a business degree, there are lots of essays to write, and you might find the added difficulty of expressing yourself in English on top of the subject matter. You will soon find that your finance paper has more essays to write than you would expect.

      Having said that, I am a firm believer that people can learn anything they set their mind to. 13 years ago, I FAILED math at A-Levels, and believed that I am not a numbers person. I wanted to do something related to the arts and humanities, like Political Science or Communications. Today, I have made a career out of data analytics, a topic that requires you to be numerate and scientific, and am sitting on a job offer to be the head of data analytics at a well funded tech startup. I can’t say it was easy to get past my initial fears and insecurities about failing A-Level maths, but with some perserverance and discipline, you can accomplish almost anything.

      I believe that you go to university not to just get a piece of paper, and not to just immerse yourself in things that you are already good at. I believe that in university, you should be learning how to overcome your shortcomings and become good at subjects where you need improvement. After all, why pay tens of thousands of dollars just to reinforce things you already know? You can use this opportunity to sharpen your command of English, and immerse yourself in an environment where you are forced to use it on a daily basis. You will come out all the better!

      Hope this helps!

  5. Hello! Thank you so much for sharing your experience about your university life! Do you mind helping me by recommending or advising me? I have just graduated from poly (business course) and I’m not sure which course to take at SIM. I’m actually stuck between Business Analytics and Data Science (UOL) and Business Management with Communications (UOB). I have more interest regarding the Mathematical side but I’ve heard the UOL is 100% exam based which I’m not so confident in scoring in terms of exams. Whereas, UOB consists of both projects and exams. I’m hoping to apply to a University that can suit my learning style better. THANK YOU!

    • Hi Miyu, most welcome and glad that you’ve found the article and comments useful!

      Its cool that you’re keen on business analytics and data science, though I’d say that’s a vastly different course from Business Management with Communications. As someone whose worked as a data analyst since I graduated, I’d encourage you to apply for that degree program over a business degree if you are certain that you want to pursue a career as a data analyst or data scientist. I can’t really comment on the mode of assessment for the Business Analytics and Data Science programme for UOL though I’d be surprised if there aren’t at least some practical sessions programming in R, Python, or SQL. Regardless of assessment mode, as an entrant into the world of analytics, it helps immensely to have a place to display your work such as a github or Kaggle profile, or a Tableau Public page.

      Regarding the Business Management with Comms course – if you’re not seeking work in the comms industry (i.e. in media, publishing, journalism, PR agency, advertising) or if you’re not looking to work in a comms related role (e.g. corp comms, inhouse PR, marketing), then the comms specialization wouldn’t really add much value and I’d opt for a generalist business degree. I’m saying this especially given the fact that you said you’re more mathematically inclined, though I must stress that this is by no means a prerequisite to doing data analytics (I’m definitely NOT a math type of person myself).

      Many may feel like a plain vanilla business degree is just too general, though I’d argue that being a jack of all trades isn’t a bad thing at all. In fact, knowing a little about how each function works is a great strength when it comes to working with internal stakeholders from other teams. As a data analyst, my business background certainly helps me understand each function’s priorities and helps me to design highly relevant dashboards and share actionable and data-driven insights, rather than just being an order-taker like many data analysts or data scientists are. If anything, this has helped me outshine many of my peers who may have completed their degree in a more technical field.

      Hope this helps!

  6. Hello Ali,Thank you for sharing.I am a junior Chinese undergraduate. I want to study for a master’s degree in sim-uob in 2022. I have some questions and I hope you can give me some suggestions. Because it is usually a three-year schooling system to study for a master’s degree in China, I want to improve my degree quickly. My undergraduate university is not very good, so it is difficult for me to apply to the public university in Singapore. Sim-uob may be a better choice for me at present. According to my situation, do you think my choice is reasonable?
    How is SIM-UOB master’s degree recognized locally or internationally? Can the study in Singapore improve my English (because I may prefer to engage in some foreign trade work when I return to China, of course, it is also good to stay in Singapore for internship or work for a period of time)?
    Besides, I don’t know much about Singapore. Will English become an extremely important part of my life or work in Singapore?Is it difficult to graduate from this course?Can I go back to my own country and say I graduated from Birmingham?LOL~
    I really look forward to your reply.

    • Hi Lukis, happy to share.

      Degree Recognition
      Though the programme is delivered entirely in Singapore, the degree you receive from the SIM-UOB programme is exactly the same as the degree you’d receive if you did the programme in Birmingham, and I would say that is the case as well in terms of the academic rigour of the programme. Do not expect that the programme will be an easy pass, especially not at the masters level. As a result, I don’t usually hide the fact that I did the programme in Singapore.

      English Language Requirements
      To start off, there are definitely English language requirements to do this programme. I do know people who did not take English as their main language medium at high school who were able to graduate, but I really wouldn’t take a degree just to improve a language. As the programme requires you to read a fair bit and write plenty of essays, you would undoubtedly improve, but consider the reasons for taking a degree in the first place; you’re trying to learn more about the topic, not the language.

      Life in Singapore
      English is the main language of business in Singapore. You could probably survive just knowing mandarin but most companies are fairly international here and you should expect to speak English to colleagues who do not know Chinese. One thing to note however, is that SIM foreign students are not legally allowed to work in Singapore, unlike foreign students at the public universities. Hence, if you’re looking for work, you would need to find a company that is willing to help you apply for an employment pass.

    • Hi Maha,

      I don’t have any personal experience taking masters programmes with UOB. If you can be more specific about what information you’re looking for that might help you make a decision, perhaps I can answer based on the knowledge I have. I heard that some of the professors have taught in both the masters programme and the bachelors programme so there may be overlap there.

  7. Hello , I’m about to graduate from SIM diploma in a month and i still cannot figure out whether UOL or UOB suits me more. Most of my friends are going to UOL despite that it needs strong fundamental on economic which i am not really good at during my diploma classes. It is complicated for me to choose as i am not someone who is good at group work and only
    perform well due to the members while i can do better exam wise , i feel like taking risk to do UOL format which defines your score based on one exam.

    • Hello Xiuxiu,

      Not getting good grades at something in school does not mean that you cannot get good at it later on. Similarly, not being good at group work and group assignments does not mean that you cannot learn to be better at it.

      School is the absolute BEST time for you to work on your greatest challenges and weaknesses.

      Let me repeat that: THE BEST TIME TO GET LEARN SOMETHING IS WHILE YOU’RE IN SCHOOL!!!

      Work on both your understanding of economics as well as your ability to work in groups and teams because you will likely require both when you go out and find a job! Okay, depending on which industry you work in, perhaps your knowledge of economics may not be so important but DEFINITELY your ability to work with colleagues and bosses. For this reason alone I would strongly suggest you go for the UOB course, so that you can get yourself out of your comfort zone and learn to do group work.

      You need to go into your university degree with the mindset that you are here to learn things that you don’t know, including soft skills and communication skills. Make friends in class and tell them that you are keen to work together, study together, do group projects together. Acknowledge when you make mistakes and learn from them rather than sweeping them under the carpet.

      Also while I’m on this topic, join a CCA! They’re great fun and you will learn even more if you volunteer to be an exco member! I can assure you that they look great on the resume, and that you are more likely to land a better paying job with a 2nd upper honours degree with active CCA involvement and achievements, than a no-lifer first class honours degree with no CCAs. Employers today are looking for people who can adapt, learn on the job, resolve conflicts in the office, and communicate effectively with everyone from the most junior employees to senior executives.

      • ***Minor Typo: Let me repeat that: THE BEST TIME TO LEARN SOMETHING IS WHILE YOU’RE IN SCHOOL!!!

        Dishing out life and career advice at 12 midnight isn’t easy guys. But I’ll do it if it means I can help just one more lost soul out there :D

  8. Hi Ali, thanks for the article. I have a few concerns that would influence my future choices.

    Firstly, between UOB’s business management and communications with year in industry and UOB’s International business course, which would you recommend? Both courses have highly similar modules, with one focusing more on communications and the other providing overseas exposure. The communications degree seem to focus more on comms rather than business, and also requires students to film and edit videos, which is a good skill. Between the two, which would be more competitive in the job market, offer a higher salary/equip students with better skills? How are your peers doing after choosing these courses? I need some convincing to choose between either and why! When I graduate, I hope to work in a bank or a start-up.

    Secondly, how often do UOB students proceed to further their studies after graduation? I know of several local uni graduates (NTU, NUS, SMU, SUTD, SIT), who proceed to do their masters before working. I’m looking to do the same, but I had a talk with UOB’s professors at SIM and they are unaware of the statistics. Do you think SIM-UOB graduates are disadvantaged when applying for masters programmes locally or overseas even when graduating with good honours? (Note: I do NOT want to take a masters programme in a private university in Singapore.)

    Lastly, since the degree course is only two years, it seems like students will not have the opportunity to take up internships, which is crucial when applying for jobs after graduation in today’s economy. Any tips on how UOB students can make themselves more competitive in the job market after graduation? (like yourself who have managed to secure a starting pay of 3.2k+). How should students maximize their two years?

    Many thanks for taking the time to read and reply to my concerns, Ali! Hope to connect with you someday perhaps in school if you come back to visit!

  9. Hi Ali, thanks for the insights. I have a few questions that would influence my future choices.

    Beween the business communications w a year in industry and UOB’s international business degree, which would you recommend? Both have highly similar modules with one focusing more on communications. One has internship and skills such as editing and filming, while the other offers overseas experience. Based on your experience at SIM-UOB, which would be a better choice in terms of employability/salary/etc? Kinda in a dilemma between the two. Pls help to convince me! I heard some people saying that intl business isnt worth the additional cost, but the biz management w communications seem to focus more on comms rather than business. Haha.

    Also, im hoping to further studies overseas or at NUS/NTU for a masters/MBA after SIM-UOB. How recognized is SIM-UOB degrees and are we at a disadvantage when applying for these programmes compared to local unis even if both score well (good honours) in the degree programme? Do you have peers who have done this? Haha instead of going to work they pursue an MBA/masters, but NOT at SIM.

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read and address these concerns!

    • Hey Bobby,

      You’re most welcome! I’m glad that you’ve found my article helpful and hope that you’ve also found the earlier answers to be informative.

      Regarding your choice of programme: Making a comparison between the BSc (Hons) International Business and the BSc (Hons) Business Management with Communications purely on employability and salary isn’t quite the right way to think about it. Both degrees offer excellent career prospects in different focus areas; the International Business degree being more geared towards large companies with an international presence, and the with-Comms programme being geared towards media, communications, and PR. Still, despite the different focus areas, do keep in mind that both are still what I consider to be generalist degrees albeit with a slant towards one field. This means that either degree will not really exclude you from the other’s field; You may very well take the International Business programme and end up working in digital advertising, or take the with-Comms programme and work in the regional team of a large MNC. The programme you end up choosing doesn’t matter as much as you might think. If you want the most flexibility in being the Jack of all Trades and Master of None, then go with plain and simple Business Management like I did.

      More important than thinking about your starting salary, you should ask yourself what you want to do for a living. Getting a higher starting salary in a field you don’t end up liking is going to hurt your career more in the long run when you burn out, lose interest, and want to quit, even though you’re well paid. In stark contrast, a job which may not pay as highly at the start, but which you have genuine interest in is much more likely to keep you motivated in the long run and drive you towards a better career outcome and financial success.

      Regarding the next question on pursuing a masters: Yes you definitely can qualify for masters programmes provided you meet the other admissions requirements of the specific programme you’re keen to go for, and I have had classmates go for this route before entering the workforce. MBAs however are a different story – They usually require a minimum of 2 years work experience and the average MBA candidate likely has anywhere from 4-8 years work experience. There are even EMBA programmes which require >8 years work experience targeted at mid to senior level professionals.

      My personal take is that you should get your feet wet with some actual work experience or an internship. You may be surprised what you find out about yourself, much like how I, whose weakest A-Level subject was Mathematics, have discovered a passion for Data Analytics and have made a career out of it in some of the leading companies in the field.

  10. Hi, as a Junior College graduate who also did not do well for A-Levels, I am also considering this path. As I was not able to find much information regarding the SIM diploma online, may I ask you what your experience in the programme was like and how it was getting used to the change in education style from the JC style and the challenges involved? Thank you!

    • Hi Xinyi,

      That’s a great question! I’ll admit that it was definitely a tough decision to make having my poor A-Level results, and that it was definitely a stressful time for me. I could go on for days about the emotional rollercoaster but I’ll probably cut to the chase and tell you more about the SIM Diploma in Management Studies (DMS). Its a topic that probably deserves its own article, but I’ll try to do my best here and you can ask me any follow up questions if you’d like.

      A stark contrast to JC life, the DMS is an action packed 15-month course that will see you taking 15 modules over 5 semesters. I can’t confirm if they changed this structure but there are still 15 modules last I checked, though I heard at some point they revised it to 3 semesters instead of 5 (you can contact SIM to ask about this). Unlike JC, there are no tutorials, so everything is done in lectures. There were lectures 6 days a week (Mon-Sat), for just 3 hours a day, but don’t take this as a license to go out and have fun after your 3 hour lecture! You should take another 2-3 hours to review what you have learned in the lecture, attempt sample questions, and ask questions the next day.

      Every module also has an individual or group assignment component which usually counts for 50% of your final grade. Depending on your lecturer, you may be able to pick your groupmates or you may be assigned by your lecturer. Please turn up for orientation to make friends and find trustworthy groupmates, because that will save you alot of stress as the semesters go by. It’s also nice to have friends to study together with, and you’ll find that groups who stick around and study together will progress successfully through the diploma together.

      The other 50% of your grade is determined by an end-of-semester exam. When I did the DMS, one semester was technically 3 months, but realistically the academic teaching time is only 2 months and there is a 1 month break in between. The exams are at the end of the 2-month period so there is no extra time to study in-between your final revision lectures and your exam!

      The group of people taking the course will be quite diverse, with people like myself who went through A-Levels and completed NS, people who are fresh out of O-Levels, people like yourself who have completed A-Levels, and even some people with work experience of a few years. The international mix is definitely there too, and I have some close buddies from countries like Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam and more that I keep in touch with to this day. I think this is a great part of the DMS which is definitely understated, but in making friends with foreigners, you will learn to communicate and work with a very international crowd. This skill will help you in the workplace for sure.

      The DMS is not an easy course to complete and there were many students who dropped out in between the semesters. However, in my opinion, if you are consistent and motivated, you will have no problem scoring top marks. The modules taught, in my opinion, were alot more interesting than what I studied at A-Levels (H2 Physics, H2 Chemistry, H2 Maths, and H1 Econs). I did eventually complete the Diploma and received a Certificate of Commendation for being a top scorer too.

      Note that this Diploma should be seen as a pathway to another SIM GE programme as I don’t think it is widely recognized by local or overseas universities.

      I’m happy to answer any further questions you might have!

  11. Hi Ali! I’m currently enrolled in the International Business program and because of the covid situation, I’m in a dilemma if i should switch over to Business Management instead. What are your thoughts?

    • Hi Yun,

      I can’t say that much without knowing more details about your situation. If your concern is safety, its a perfectly valid reason to want to stay in Singapore and avoid traveling. If your concern is that the University is cancelling the overseas semesters, then it sounds like you don’t have much say in that either.

      However, I’d guess that the University would have put adequate measures in place to allow you to continue your overseas study or work experience, albeit with some restrictions. If they did, you still stand to benefit from having this experience abroad. I think one of the unique propositions of the International Business program is that the overseas experience teaches you to respond to drastic changes in an increasingly internationalized world. Its a great story to tell if you were able to carry on your overseas experience despite COVID-19. Businesses today are doing their best to try to cope with this situation and having the opportunity to do have an international experience like this despite the situation is going to provide extraordinary learning opportunities and a great advantage for you. All this provided you can get through it safely.

      If you can make it work, I’d favour the opportunity to proceed with the International business program!

  12. Hi
    just wondering, would uob international business or business management be more applicable in the working society in singapore? Which would be better based on ur recommendation ? Would want to work public service in future.

    Thanks

    • Hi Jermaine,

      Which public service division are you looking to work in? I know a classmate from my year who is a civil servant but I think you need to figure out what role you’re looking for.

      Keep in mind that you’re taking a degree for the specific role that you want to apply for, rather than the employer or company that you want to work for. Try looking for job openings for roles that you’d be interested in and have a look at what qualifications they require. Some roles also don’t require a specific field of study in your degree, in which case you’re fine taking any degree programme.

      Hope this helps!

  13. Hi, I am currently confused whether I should go to RMIT or UOB. I heard that UOB is harder than RMIT which worries me because I don’t want to have a stressful university experience. Is UOB hard/stressful?

    • Hi Robert,

      That entirely depends on what stresses you out. Some people find UOL’s all-exam assessment format stressful, others may find the group work and presentations we need to do in UOB and RMIT stressful. You may be very stressed taking a degree in economics and finance if you are not numerate, or you may be as stressed taking a business management degree if you don’t like writing essays. You may be stressed just because your classmates are all hardworking, or you may be stressed being the most hardworking person in class. Different things cause stress to different people, and nobody can really answer that question for you.

      Was I stressed in UOB? Not particularly. I like the pace and depth of the teaching blocks. I also enjoyed the teaching style and the subject matter. I like the fact that there isn’t usually a ‘correct’ answer, and we are encouraged to form our own opinions and support them with evidence. That said, I know some classmates who were stressed because they cannot understand British accents so well. I also know some classmates who didn’t like forming their own opinions and preferred to have a ‘correct’ answer to memorize. If you want to avoid stress, play to your strengths.

      Having said that, let’s put aside university stress for a moment, and think about what workplace stress might be like. Spoiler alert: its going to be much worse, and I would argue that having an adequately challenging university life would better prepare you for the workplace. Having to work with classmates to complete group assignments pales in comparison to having to deal with colleagues and answer to your boss to keep your job. Stress and challenges are good for you in controlled and healthy amounts, and in life, you’ll find that you often get rewarded for putting yourself up to a challenge, especially when nobody else will.

  14. Hi, i would like to ask, even though most private sector employers no longer discriminate private degrees, is it true in regards to the survey that local graduates have a 3.2k starting pay whereas private degree graduates have a starting pay of around 2.4k? Cos i see in some forums some say yes, some say no. Hope you can provide a clearer view. Thank you!

    • Hi Heidi,

      I’m not sure which survey you’re referring to, and I don’t think I would like to comment on its accuracy. However, if pay is your concern, and you’d like to know whether its possible to earn a competitive salary with this degree programme, I can assure you that myself and many of my classmates earned above 3.2k in our first jobs.

      However, consider that this is just an *average* figure – your first job and first paycheck will depend alot on other factors including what role and industry you’ve landed yourself in, and on top of that, higher paying jobs will inevitably bring more competition. Entry-level technical roles in data analytics or software engineering these days tend to pay more than non-technical roles, for example in HR, service, or even entry-level “management trainee” roles.

      I’ve been at work for 5 years now, and have also changed a few jobs in between. I can assure you also that hiring practices today lean more towards assessing candidates through assessments and interviews rather than judging based on degree certificates. How you perform in tests and interviews, how you dress up your CV, and the skills and willingness to learn that you bring to the table are more likely to help you command a higher salary than your degree cert.

      Even if you don’t get a high-paying first job, don’t be discouraged! There is always opportunity to climb the payscales later on – I know of many people who started off earning less than I was who earn more than me now! Especially in roles that don’t usually have high starting salaries – for example non-technical roles mentioned above – you can work towards a more competitive salary in later years because those roles tend to require industry experience and soft skills to really shine. This is unlike technical roles where a fresh grad can bring value to the company sooner because of their technical skills acquired in school, even if they are more junior in experience and industry knowledge.

      Hope this helps!

    • Hi Hellobello,

      You have a couple of options if you’re looking for a student exchange program.

      1) Enroll in the BSc (Hons) International Business course mentioned above – This degree programme has two mandatory overseas semesters; One semester at Birmingham, and another semester either working or studying abroad at another of the Univeristy of Birmingham’s partner universities. These semesters include assessments which are graded and count towards your final grades and degree classification.

      2) Apply for SIMGE’s study abroad programme – This is a program that runs independent of your degree program, where you can pick a university that has partnered with SIM to spend some time with. These semesters may or may not have assessments, but they will not count towards your grades or degree classification.

      Hope this helps!

    • Hi Kenneth,

      There is a short break (a week if I recall correctly?) between the two semesters each year. This reply probably comes way too late for you, sorry for that. Hope that this reply helps others in future!

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