There are many collaboration programmes in our local universities where students attend overseas attachments with partner universities. These include voluntary student exchange programmes and overseas work attachments. Typically, overseas programmes are compulsory for joint degree, dual masters and integrated degree and masters programmes where students are awarded jointly-validated qualifications from a local and foreign university.

Our universities have the autonomy to work with overseas partners on the structure and content of overseas programmes. These overseas components generally complement, rather than duplicate, the content covered locally, tapping on the relative strengths and niche areas of both our universities and foreign partners. For example, National University of Singapore (NUS) offers a joint degree programme in a Bachelor of Science in Life Sciences in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH). Students in this programme have the opportunity to complement their learning of life sciences in NUS with a liberal arts education at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-CH).

There will be instances where the academic content covered in overseas programmes could conceivably have been covered locally. For instance, the Renaissance Engineering Programme (REP) offered in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is a dual-degree programme which awards students a Bachelor of Engineering Science coupled with a Master of Science in Technology Management. As part of the programme, students are given the opportunity to attend a one-year immersion in their third year at the University of California, Berkeley or Imperial College of London, to pursue an engineering specialisation and courses on technology-related entrepreneurship. While some of the academic content in that third year could possibly be covered locally, the overseas component allows students to learn in a different environment.

The educational value of overseas programmes is more than just about their academic content. Overseas stints help develop cross-cultural awareness, independence and other soft skills in our students. Many students return with a stronger appreciation for and sense of responsibility to our society.