MATHANGI SHANMUGAM writes to us from National University of Singapore.
I am a graduate student in Electronics and Computer Engineering at the National University of Singapore, one of the premier universities in the world for technical education. The university admits students for the terms that start in January and August every year, exceptions being specialized courses that are offered only once a year in August. A consistently high performance in school and college is necessary for admission, while relevant work experience improves one’s chances. Due consideration is also given to extra-curricular achievements. A number of scholarships are available for students with financial constraints. A partial fee waiver is provided to MS students who commit to work in Singapore for a minimum period of three years after graduation.
Students can pursue their course at their own pace. It could be completed in a minimum of one year and a maximum of two years, though most students choose to complete in three terms. Students can either get a generic degree in their field of study or specialise by taking up the required modules. For the research bent, the university offers state-of-the-art laboratories and helpful professors to guide. The professors are highly qualified and almost all of them are pioneers in their field. Credits from projects can be substituted for regular course work.
The university attracts students of diverse backgrounds from all over the world. The group assignments and projects have given me a lot of opportunities to interact with them and learn their different cultures.
The university follows a relative grading system. Competition is heavy among the students, and one needs to be diligent, smart working and efficient in managing time in order to score high.
Classes for graduate modules take place in the evenings. This gives the students the option of working during the day. However, visa restrictions cap the maximum allowed work hours at 16 a week during the term.
The city has a well-connected public transportation system. Prepaid smartcards can be used in buses, trains and taxis. The signboards in the four official languages (English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil) make it easy to find one’s way around the city. The local population is a mix of all cultures.
Students from cooler parts of the world might find the tropical weather difficult to adjust. However, almost the entire city is air-conditioned. It rains almost every other day here but the surprise is when you find no trace of rain just an hour later thanks to the efficient drainage system. Cleanliness here is maintained with high regard. Obviously, one is fined heavily for littering.
Disobeying traffic rules could result in a few thousands of dollars fine. Expensive housing and travel makes the cost of living high. Safety and security is given utmost importance here. For foodies, there are a variety of cuisines to treat their taste buds. It is also economical to plan a trip to neighbouring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia.
Graduating from NUS would be a life-changing experience. Welcome aboard!