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First-year NUS students to be allowed to drop poor grades

SINGAPORE — To ease the obsession with grades — at least, for the first semester — the National University of Singapore (NUS) will allow all first-year students drop lacklustre grades so that they do not affect overall academic performance.

SINGAPORE — To ease the obsession with grades — at least, for the first semester — the National University of Singapore (NUS) will allow all first-year students drop lacklustre grades so that they do not affect overall academic performance.

This will begin with the estimated 6,000 students that will enter this August, and NUS plans to eventually to extend the scheme to the whole of the freshman year.

It is also re-introducing industry attachments for all Engineering and Computing students, and revamping General Education (GE) curriculum, as part of efforts to enhance the education experience at NUS.

“One of the key things that drive all these initiatives is our focus to optimise student experience and learning outcomes in NUS,” said Professor Tan Eng Chye, Deputy President of Academic Affairs & Provost. “The working environment has been changing and it is much more challenging for our graduates. The ability of our students and graduates to be able to adapt is going to be critical.”

Under the new scheme, students can drop up to five grades so that it does not affect their overall Cumulative Average Point (CAP). The “dropped” module will be marked “Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” depending on the grade originally awarded, and students will not receive credit for it if they are marked “Unsatisfactory”.

Prof Tan said students would still receive grades to maintain a healthy balance of academic pressure.

“We’re trying to make sure that our students, at least in the very first semester, are free to read what they like to read and we protect the event of having bad grades. If they put in the effort and do well, I think they should be rewarded and they should keep their grade,” he said. “This is quite different from a system where every subject is pass or fail. Then you could have the tendency where everyone will do enough just to pass.”

He added that the scheme will also help full-time National Servicemen (NSmen) ease back into the academic system after two years of military service.

NUS Law School will also roll out grade-free semesters for freshmen starting this year, while Yale-NUS College began with their inaugural intake last year. A pass-fail system has been in place at the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine since 2010, and researchers found that students’ stress level was lowered, even as their performance remained unchanged.

The compulsory third-year industry attachments for Engineering and Computing students will start for those entering NUS this August, and the university plans to extend compulsory attachments to other faculties.

Students can expect more career preparatory programs starting this year as the university overhauls the NUS Career Centre to take on a proactive role in engaging students and through the new Ridge View Residential College (RVRC), which will also run a year-long residential program for its pioneer cohort of 200 freshmen.

Starting from next year, the revamped GE curriculum will require students to take five modules outside their major, instead of three.

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