Open University Degree Programme

The Open University Degree Programme (OUDP) was administered by the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) in a five-year tie-up with the British Open University.1 The partnership started in 1992, when SIM was invited by the Ministry of Education to run the Open University Degree Programme.2 SIM launched Singapore’s Open University (OU) in January 1994 with the help of a S$38-million capital grant from the government.3 The objective of having an open university was to enable working adults to pursue degrees through part-time study.4 Three degrees were offered to the first batch of intakes: Bachelor of Science in Mathematics, Bachelor of Science in Computer Science, and Bachelor of Arts in English Language and Literature.

Early years
The OU received an overwhelming response when it opened enrolment for its first year, causing SIM to double its intake quota from 500 to 1,000. Out of the 3,152 applications received, 50 percent was for the Computer Science course. Non-graduate teachers and polytechnic students made up 90 percent of the first batch of students. Thirty-seven lecturers and tutors were hired for the first run.

Applicants to the OUDP were at least 23 years old, had a minimum two years’ work experience (National Service was also considered), and obtained at least two GCE “A” Levels or a recognised diploma qualification. The degrees conferred by the OU were recognised by the Public Service Commission. Non-graduate teachers, upon graduating, were placed on the same pay scale as graduate teachers from other universities.7

Pioneer intakes of the OUDP attended their first classes in 1994 at the Ngee Ann Polytechnic. SIM had leased the venue while waiting for its new building in Clementi, which was ready only in 1999.8 Over 90 percent of students from the pioneer batch passed their first-year examinations, and a total of 334 students graduated in 1998 when the first graduation ceremony was held.

Privately funded university
In 2002, the OUDP was granted accreditation status from the Open University of the United Kingdom. The programme became an autonomous entity of SIM and was re-named SIM Open University Centre (SIM-OUC).10

In 2005, SIM was restructured into two arms. One arm offered degree programmes in partnership with overseas universities, while the other, SIM University, was granted university status by the Ministry of Education.11 Students who were enrolled in SIM-OUC and graduated from 2006 onwards were allowed to choose between a SIM University or Open University of the United Kingdom (OUUK) degree, but once the university developed its own courses the students would graduate from SIM.12

SIM University (or UniSIM) became Singapore’s first privately funded university to award its own degrees that are approved by the Ministry of Education.13 The university officially began its degree courses, targeted at working adults, in January 2006.14

Today, SIM Global Education provides full-time and part-time academic programmes (diplomas, bachelor and postgraduate degrees) from universities in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia and Europe.15

Nor-Afidah Abdul Rahman

1. Anna Teo, “Open U – SIM to Kick Off in 1994 with Three Degree Courses,” Business Times, 10 June 1992, 3; “MOU Signed for Open Univ,” Business Times, 25 July 1992, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Lynn Chen, “50 Years of Pioneering Private Education,” Straits Times, 24 August 2014, 5 (From NewspaperSG); Singapore University of Social Sciences, “SIM Open University Centre Keeps Up the Numbers for Eight Year Running,” press release, 15 July 2005.
3. “Open U Needs Govt Help,” Business Times, 12 June 1992, 8; Sandra Davie, “SIM Takes Up Govt Offer to Run Open U Courses,” Straits Times, 10 June 1992, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Davie, “SIM Takes Up Govt Offer to Run Open U Courses.”
5. Teo, “SIM to Kick Off in 1994 with Three Degree Courses.”
6. Sandra Davie, “Mainly Non-Grad Teachers, Poly Grads in Open U’s First Batch,” Straits Times, 4 November 1993, 22 (From NewspaperSG); Davie, “SIM Takes Up Govt Offer to Run Open U Courses.”
7. Davie, “SIM Takes Up Govt Offer to Run Open U Courses”; “Open University Degree,” Straits Times, 7 March 1996, 7; Davie, “Mainly Non-Grad Teachers.”
8. A. J. Leow, “SIM: Bearing the Standard,” Straits Times, 26 November 2004, 19; Sandra Davie, “For Open U Students, Phone Will Be Learning Aid,” Straits Times, 16 November 1993, 22; “Open University to Get New Campus by End of 1999,” Straits Times, 17 July 1999, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
9. M. Nirmala, “Over 90% Pass Their First-Year Open U Exams,” Straits Times, 11 January 1995, 22 (From NewspaperSG); Singapore University of Social Sciences, “SIM Open University Centre Keeps Up the Numbers.”
10. Leow, “Bearing the Standard”; “SIM Milestones,” Business Times, 10 November 2003, 3 (From NewspaperSG); Singapore University of Social Sciences, “SIM Open University Centre Keeps Up the Numbers.”
11. “University for Working Adults,” New Paper, 15 January 2005, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
12. Singapore University of Social Sciences, “SIM Open University Centre Keeps Up the Numbers”; Sandra Davie, “UniSIM,” Straits Times, 27 April 2005, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
13. Lee U-Wen, “A Uni with a Difference,” Today, 27 April 2005, 6; Jane Ng, “Surge in UniSIM Degree Applicants,” Straits Times, 10 October 2008, 47 (From NewspaperSG); Singapore University of Social Sciences, “SIM Transformed,” press release, 27 April 2005.
14. Sandra Davie, “Applications Open for 1,000 UniSIM Places,” Straits Times, 12 July 2005, 6; Sandra Davie, “President to Be Patron of UniSIM,” Straits Times, 21 September 2006, 8 (From NewspaperSG); Ng, “Surge in UniSIM Degree Applicants.” 
15. “Discover SIM GE,” Singapore Institute of Management Pte Ltd, accessed 28 September 2017.

The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.


Adult education--Singapore