Engineering Education Scenario in Singapore Universities with Reference to India

Last Updated: 18 Mar 2021
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The number of engineering colleges in the current year 2012-13 will soon rise to 3500 and more. The mushrooming of Institutes is in very small p of time and also geographically unbalanced. Now when we compare the technical education scenario in India with the world the situation is alarming. At present the number of engineering graduates passing out from these institutes is approximately 14 lack but the survey conducted by various agencies like NASSCOM indicates a deep concern regarding the quality of graduates in terms of their employability, research abilities, conceptual clarity and practical exposure of graduates.

There are many challenges our Engineering Institutes are facing and this need to be attended to. With this objective in mind a study of three Universities in Singapore is presented namely National university of Singapore ,Nanyang Techlogical University & Nanyang Polytechnic which the author recently visited.  Engineering Education in USA, Singapore and India When we compare the Engineering Education (EE) in three countries in terms of numbers, engineering graduates passing out are highest in India, followed by USA (almost 1/8th) and then Singapore.

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The focus of EE in USA and Singapore is on interaction with Industries, Industry based live projects, Industry Chair, research centre in collaboration with Industry, Incubation Centers etc. Curriculum is focused on hands on learning with Mini projects from first year onwards for developing innovative and creative mindset in students. There is provision for field training, giving global exposure to students with credits weight-age(the students actually spend 3 months in a different country and carry out some relevant study based project). Entrepreneurship is given special one subject weight age in curriculum.

We could see proper blend of Humanities based subjects in the curriculum with an objective of creating engineers sensitive to the needs of society. Other common features are Faculty development centers and English language learning centers for both Faculty and Students. We could also see open study spaces for students to promote self and group learning. 1. 2Current Scenario, Quality issues Indian Engineers have earned a name for themselves all over the world. We could meet a large number of Indian professors in US universities as well as in Singapore Universities.

Professors are highly respected as research flows from university to industry, highly paid jobs, special status for research professors to carry out research, in some places scientists are appointed to lead special research projects. PG level students are involved in the projects wherein they get an opportunity to learn on real life 1 applications. We now need to rethink about the EE in India in the global context with the sudden expansion of EE and the related issues of Quality of education imparted in these new institutes.

There is National Board of Accreditation (NBA) , norms of AICTE etc. But merely adhering to the norms will not ensure quality of graduate engineers. The Institutes need to work beyond norms to inculcate academic ambience in terms of academics, research, industry institute interaction etc. India is also thinking of signing Washington accord so that our graduates are accepted all over the world. But what about complying with the conditions of Washington accord? Challenges in India The challenges which we are facing today are the Leadership and governance to be provided in the Institute.

There is sudden shortage of academic leaders because of this abrupt unexpected expansion of technical education. There is also shortage of teaching faculty cadre-wise from professors to associate professors and assistant professors. Inadequate number of faculty with required qualifications are not available. Post graduates and PhDs passing out give first preference to industry jobs because of the glamour and the higher salaries attached to it. In India teaching jobs are not rated the highest and status wise also not as exceedingly respected as in USA or Singapore.

Quality of Students Few premier Institutions like IIT, NITs, Government College and certain private universities attract the talent. Rest other institutions the Aptitude & attitude to learning engineering is low, hence the quality of input to such other institutes is not as per the expectations. As per the government policies students with minimum 45% marks and for reserved category students the eligibility criteria is 40% marks in Physics, chemistry and mathematics. Thus sometimes these students have very poor fundamentals and are not basically hard working type.

Engineering education necessitate that the students should have very good analytical skills, fundamentals of basic sciences, good logical, verbal and non verbal abilities along with application oriented mindset, sincerity, hard work and ability to think and apply knowledge. Although the 12th standard marks may not directly reflect all these abilities of students but the results of the almost all the newly started Engineering Institutes indicate that a large number of students are struggling with their first year results and the passing percentage is as low as 10% in certain institutes. Research culture:

It is a great challenge to develop research culture in engineering institutes. The faculty needs to have the aptitude and attitude to do research and get a satisfaction and enjoyment in carrying out research through various projects. Generally it is seen that there is fear of taking up research work because of:

Basic mindset developed in school as well at home not to try anything new as failure in any project is not accepted

Innovation and creativity are not encouraged at school, college, university level through our curriculum No free hand given in terms of funding to try and experiment new things Open and free access to equipments to try and play around with equipments in laboratory so that it becomes enjoyable.

Government should give projects from their thrust areas along with funding to the engineering institutes along with proper mentoring and guidance so that it reaches students and gradually research aptitude and interest is developed instead of a fear of research. Industry - Institute Interaction Graduates passing out from these institutes mainly take up jobs in Industries and a very small percentage opt for PG or research jobs.

Those opting for entrepreneurship generally do job for 4-5 years to understand the business and related systems. Thus giving exposure to industry working is important. It is important that Industry based electives are introduced in curriculum, real life projects are given to final year students and field training made mandatory during the four year of engineering education. Industry academia interaction should lead to the development of curriculum with industry representatives, industry visits, laboratories set up with industry collaboration to bring the latest technology to institutes and develop as centre of excellence etc.

This industry interaction will bridge the gap between the two and our graduates will be accepted by industry in a better way. It is observed that when we correlate the theoretical concepts with real life situation the students find it more interesting and easy to understand. Infrastructure Infrastructure and laboratories create the ambience for teaching learning in the institute. Lab work is the pulse of engineering program. It helps students to visualize what they learn in theory and verify the laws, phenomenon, parametric studies etc.

Learning by doing is one of the basic methods of developing thought process and acquiring various skills. It is significant to learn what other universities around the world are doing to achieve the desired quality in engineering education. Tie up with reputed global Universities to learn and understand their best practices and accordingly try to implement it can help to develop quality processes. Our plan to visit Singapore University Their meticulous planning was seen right from our first email requesting them to give us appointment to visit their university.

Appointment and Schedule of our delegation , objectives of our visit, what particularly and specifically we would like to see, how many people will be there in delegation along with their position , who will lead it etc. all the details were finalized through email communication. We were received as per schedule, shown around the campus as per our objectives and then finally meeting with the President and other higher officials of the university was arranged to give us the details of university through presentation along with deliberations on areas of collaboration for mutual interest. They were truly professional in their approach.

Students from all over the world could be seen making it truly an international level university, all the universities have excellent residential facilities for more than 10000 students, residential facility provided such that there is good mix up of students.  About placements - International employment in companies, 2 in 3 graduates are hired before graduation - the motto of universities is take the students to the world and bring students from the world to the university Faculty appraisal & tenure system followed in each university. Variable salary given to faculty based on experience and performance. Any newly inducted faculty has a tenure period of minimum 6 years which can be extended up to 9yrs. If the faculty is not confirmed in 9 years then the faculty is discontinued:

  • Rigorous Curriculum in association with Industry, Industry attachment programs, faculty deputed to industry for industry exposure and capacity development
  • Government supported Universities in the form of funding for research, student fees etc. Classrooms are designed with state of art technology with different type of sitting arrangements in furniture, White LCD screens on each wall of class room connected to laptop on each table so that the students can view from any side.
  • CR specially designed in such a way to promote interactive two way teaching process. Not the traditional way of all the students facing the teacher and teacher restricted to dais during teaching. Circular or hexagonal tables provided with 4-5 students per table.
  • Student entry and attendance allowed in the Class room with the use of RFID reader and card which is carried by student Teaching Methodology and pedagogy given lot of importance with class rooms specially designed as per requirements
  • Faculty appointment done for following purpose: for teaching only, for research only and few for both teaching and research
  • Governance Structure with Board of trustees ,Senate, Academic Council, Board of Studies, President, Provost, Deans
  • Entrepreneurship education - special courses and programs offered for experiential entrepreneurship, special lectures arranged by entrepreneurs and founders, courses offered in partner university Patents, publications and citations considered for appraisal of faculty

Though technological university it had proper blend of all other streams like Arts, humanities, sciences, medicine, MBA, Institute of Education, Environment and life sciences, media, Journalism, Information and communication etc. Theory lectures conducted for large number of students from 120 to 400, up to 600 in some cases, Lecture theaters & halls well furnished, with proper lighting and automatic audio and video recording facility. Lectures also put on the intranet for he students to refer to whenever required. One to one focus on students learning in tutorial sessions. More emphasis on open & self learning. Separate Rooms provided for students with Internet and various software along with Laptops and Desktops etc in a separate building named as education resource centre wherein: Facilities to do self study, general practice assignments/ presentations, etc. Lot of closed open spaces made available to student for purpose of study. Curriculum has focus on developing knowledge based presentation skills/ organizing thoughts.

The National University of Singapore (NUS) is Singapore's global university with distinctive strengths in education and research and an entrepreneurial dimension. NUS offers comprehensive curricula in the Faculties of Arts & Social Sciences, Business, Computing, Dentistry, Design & Environment, Engineering, Law, Medicine and Science. As a research-intensive institution, the University continues to build on its core areas of research excellence and to make an impact with revolutionary discoveries. Reflecting strong research output a total of 2,146 papers are published in internationally refereed journals.

NUS is actively involved in international academic and research networks such as the Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) and International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU). This global networking further enhances its international presence. NUS produce research of international quality and impact in a broad range of fields. To maintain its competitive edge, the university seeks to reinforce its core research infrastructure, faculty and programs. This is achieved by identifying and developing rapidly-emerging areas and promoting multi-disciplinary research.

With a prime location at the heart of University Town (UTown), there is a constant buzz at the Education Resource Centre (ERC) where many of the facilities are accessible 24/7. Open to the NUS community, the ERC attracts students with its array of IT and multimedia facilities, plentiful study clusters and group discussion spaces where students can brainstorm for group projects or work individually on course assignments. Designed to foster collaborative learning, the technology-infused seminar rooms in UTown also encourage professors to introduce new teaching methods, which could eventually be replicated to the wider NUS community.

Such strategic planning demonstrates the University's commitment to enhance the overall educational experience for all NUS students. Separate Centre for English language communication (CELC)-Separate English language development programs for Faculty and students, there is focus on reading, writing, speaking and listening in English, special courses organized for Chinese students before they join regular degree programs. The Student Counselling Centre (SCC) offers a supportive and conducive environment for any student with personal issues or challenges to seek help and guidance from a professional counselor.

A team of registered psychologist, counselors and case coordinator provide help and support for students from diverse religious, cultural, ethnic and sexual background

Salient Features:

  • Leading global university centered in Asia. 37,000 students.
  • Center for English Language communication.
  • 180 partnered Universities. Research-intensive institution with Research Areas as- Ageing, Risk Management, Water and Environment, Biomedical Science mainly focusing on inter-disciplinary research. Variable salary for faculty based on previous experience and achievements

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is an international university in all respects recruiting both undergraduate and graduate students from many countries, not only in S E Asia and in terms of faculty recruitment but have people from well over 40 countries. IntheQS World University Rankings 2011, NTU is ranked 58th in the world - a quantum leap from its 74th placing in the 2010 ranking.

This makes NTU one of the fastest-rising universities in the top 100 of the 2011 QS World University Rankings, as well as the fastest-rising Asian university. It is highly ranked in both World and Asian terms and are currently ranked 14 in Asia and Business School is ranked 24 in the World by the Financial Times in respect to their MBA programme. There has been a renewed impetus given to research, stimulated in part by the recruitment of leading scientists and technologists from across the World. These leading figures will nucleate advanced research groups in forefront area.

The university is fully committed to the development of multidisciplinary research in many areas of research Endeavour. The university has established its own high level international advisory body - the NTUR 'Research Council', all major projects are expected to have high level international advisory panels and Appointments, Promotion and Tenure process for faculty is extremely rigorous. In undergraduate education, NUS has seen a rise in the qualifications of the students admitted to NTU. NTU has five distinct programs that allow students to study, do research and work overseas.

Among these are the Global Immersion Programme, with four different work/study/research options with leading companies and partner-universities in Asia, Europe and North America. Currently, 43% of undergraduates enjoy overseas exposure, which helps them acquire a global mindset. Tech-savvy and adaptable, graduates of the university are sought-after and well-paid, drawing some of the highest starting salaries among local university graduates. NTU has unveiled its five-year strategic plan, NTU 2015, which maps out how it will become a great global university by 2015.

Under this, NTU will build on its current strengths and heritage to make its mark internationally in five areas - sustainability, healthcare, new media, the best of the East and West, and innovation. The areas leverage NTU's diverse strengths, particularly its longstanding expertise in engineering and business, and the interfaces these have with various disciplines such as healthcare, science and the humanities. With almost S$1billion of research funding in the area of sustainability, NTU is already a global leader in this area. 3. 21 Salient features * Currently ranked 14 in Asia * 34,000 students Research funding 80% from Govt. and 20% from Industry. Multidisciplinary research, Research areas - Earth science innovation center, Environment and Life science, Bioengineering, Bacterial Biofilm field Faculty on tenure for 6 years and maximum up to nine years. Alumni associations formed all over the world in countries like China, india and Thailand. Has a strong alumni base of 1,56,000 in 105 countries NTU believe in 4I' s Inspire, inculcate, innovate, incubate Laboratories have equipments made easily available to students. Very impressive Guest book signing ceremony with the guest and the president of NTU . 30 Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) Campus Brief history Established on 1 April 1992. Enrolled its pioneer batch of students for its School of Health Sciences and School of Business Management in July 1992. Set up the School of Engineering and the School of Information Technology in July 1993. The French-Singapore Institute, German-Singapore Institute and the Japan-Singapore Institute were transferred from the Economic Development Board to the Polytechnic in February 1993. Operated from five temporary campuses - Bukit Merah, Jurong, Outram, Tiong Bahru and Yishun - before moving to its permanent home in Ang Mo Kio in April 1998.

Set up the School of Design and School of Chemical & Life Sciences in November 2000. The School of Interactive & Digital Media was established in November 2006. Mr Chan Lee Mun took over as Principal and CEO in August 2007, Mr Lin Cheng Ton went on to head NYP International.

Salient Features:

  • Strategic plan for five years
  • Works with National Manpower council to work out the manpower needs of industry
  • Industry collaboration learning factory concept. * Teachers with at least 5 years experience in Industry .
  • Being a diploma level institute ,Patents registered.
  • Research driven by faculty & Industry. Polytechnic students take up research projects led by faculty.
  • Work closely with Industry and inject realism in work.
  • Innovation Centre
  • Market-Oriented Planning, Training Systems, Capabilities Development
  • Application and Development Oriented Training

Regional and International Orientation

The Teaching Factory Concept A hallmark concept of Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) - the Teaching Factory Concept - is a concept that facilitates effective learning in the implementation of broad-based curricula in the first two years and specialist studies in the final year.

The students spend 3-6 months in industry for internship to understand business environment and commercial value. It is a concept which adopts a practice and application-oriented training approach that combines the learning and working environment from which realistic and relevant learning experiences arise.


It was seen that all the three Institutes have developed into world class Universities and polytechnic within a p of 15-20 years and this was planned as a strategy and supported by Government.

If India has to be known for such globally reputed universities then it calls for a systematic strategic plan to set up goals and achieve it over a planned period with the support of our government and its policies. With all the resources available in our country and strategic planning we can develop our Engineering Institutes into world class Institutes. 8 There was nothing very different in the working and constitution of NTU and NUS. Both the universities were offering Engineering programs along with all the other programs like sciences, medicine, commerce, journalism, humanities etc.

Proper policies to focus on faculty development & creation of research culture can help to transform our Engineering Institutes. There has been a shortage of qualified faculty with PhDs and post graduates in engineering for a long period now. We need to scale up PhD and PG programs in our universities ensuring the quality standards . We also should have attractive schemes to be able to attract and convince the young generation for higher studies so that there will be a pool of eligible , qualified research minded people available to satisfy the demand of industries and education sector. There is shortage of 1. 5 lakh engineering teachers.

As per NASSCOM News room "as demand for engineers grows, experts say India has only 10 to 30% of qualified Instructors it needs". Government policies are supporting the government aided & funded institutes or Government Institutes - what about private unaided Institutes which comprise almost 90 % of Colleges in India, If in India more number of institutes should be able to provide manpower which is employable & useful to contribute to indigenous Research & Development, Entrepreneurship in Engineering field, then it is must that our Engineering & Technology Institute should start adopting world class best practices.

From all top Institutes almost 1/10th of our graduate engineers wish to take admission in foreign Universities for their post graduate and Ph. D. programmes. We need to reflect on this issue very seriously. How can we develop and improve prevailing engineering education system in India where our own students will give top priority to study. Can Industries, small to medium scale depend on University and Engineering Colleges for their Research & Development?

Can we identify certain Institutes as centres of Research & Development for Industries where they can collaborate? We are not thinking of large scale industries with higher turnover of more than Rs. 1000 crores as these industries can set up their own R & D units. If Industries also come forward with their needs and identify certain Education Institutes in their region to collaborate and work together then it will have dual benefit of getting proper manpower and continuous Training as well as Research & Development support, incubation centre etc.

The students will get real life projects to work on, will be exposed to latest techniques and they will find their engineering education more relevant though experiential learning. Industries should develop faith in Institutes so that both can work together for mutual benefit. We at RIT have developed the following action plan after the visit to transform RIT in to Technological University and also transformation from Under Graduate Teaching Institute to Research Institute.

  1. Strategic planning of the institute for 5 years with the goal of transforming it into University .
  2. Construction of large capacity lecture theater (approx. 600 capacity) with all the facilities to screen and record the lectures.
  3. Small capacity tutorial rooms (approx. 15-20 capacity) with comfortable furniture and recording facility.
  4. Faculty training at NYP of 1-2 weeks/months duration in advanced technology.
  5. Student exchange programs for post- graduate programs at NTU.
  6. Seeking expertise in water science research from NUS, earthquake engineering research and nanotechnology from NTU.
  7. Implementing the concept of teaching factory at undergraduate level. 8. Use of advanced Pedagogical technologies for enhancing learning effectiveness.


  1. Abdul Lathaf Naha , The Hindu, August 16, 2011. Where have Engineering Teachers Gone?
  2. Prof. PP Bahuguna, Professor, Indian School of Mines, Dhanbad, "Faculty Crunch in Technical Institutes in India and Possible Solutions",www. indiaeducationreview. com/article/faculty-crunch
  3. www. nus. edu. sg, www. ntu. edu. sg, www. nyp. edu. sg [pic] Few photographs of visit to NUS, NTU, NYP

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Engineering Education Scenario in Singapore Universities with Reference to India. (2017, Apr 19). Retrieved from

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