New courses, more leeway for NTU freshmen
FRESHMEN entering Nanyang Technological University (NTU) this year can anticipate a more holistic learning experience that stretches beyond their majors.
Students will have to take courses in Ethics and Moral Reasoning, Sustainability, and Enterprise and Innovation - key areas that will develop a more all-rounded student, said Kam Chan Hin, NTU senior associate provost of undergraduate education.
Categorised under the General Core (GER-Core) courses, the new mandatory courses "are designed to nurture the desired attributes of an NTU graduate", said Professor Kam.
This is on top of the existing two GER-Core courses relating to Communication Skills and Singapore Studies.
To better prepare students for the workplace, two new career-related core courses will also be introduced that will equip students with basic skills needed to tackle common situations such as resume-writing, the interview process and networking.
The five new courses will be delivered entirely online and students can learn on their own time and pace during the semester.
No grades will be given for the courses, which will work on a Pass/Fail basis.
From this new academic year, NTU students will also be given more leeway when it comes to the general elective modules.
The passing grade for the Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option will be extended from a minimum C grade to a D grade.
Students can exercise the S/U option for approximately four courses throughout their undergraduate programme and if they fail the course or attain an F grade, they will have to retake the course or take another.
On top of the S/U option, NTU will introduce a new grading system just for freshmen that will ease their transition into university life.
To take the pressure off them in their first year, freshmen who do not pass a course on their first attempt can automatically exclude the fail grade from their Grade Point Average (GPA).
First-year students can have up to six courses exempted from their GPA.
"The new grading system is meant to help the minority of freshmen who may need more time to adjust to the rigours of university education," said Prof Kam.
About 6 per cent of freshmen in the last three years did not pass at least one course on their first attempt, he added.
The new academic change has given freshman Mohamed Zulfadli Bin Mohamed Zainal added assurance that students like him who have just completed national service will be able to ease into university life.
"The option will be good for us. In case we do not do well, we will still get a second chance to retry without (it) affecting our GPA," said the 22-year-old who will be pursuing a degree in material science and engineering.
Two new residential halls - the Pioneer and Crescent halls - have also opened this week and will house another 1,250 students.
At the new halls, the university will pilot new learning experiences beyond the curriculum, in the form of inter-disciplinary dialogues and projects as well as talks given by industry experts.
By 2016, another three halls will be rolled out and three more after that to meet the large demand for a residential campus experience.
Currently, about 9,200 students reside in the 16 existing halls.