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Old 03-29-2013, 01:16 PM   #1
savethewow
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Default Straits Times - More top scorers drawn to arts, social sciences

Pearl Lee | The Straits Times | Tue Mar 19 2013

SINGAPORE - It was once nicknamed the "Faculty of Last Resort" because students could get in with grades as low as Cs.

These days, however, top A-level scorers are increasingly drawn to the arts and social sciences division at the National University of Singapore (NUS).

In the last five years, the number of those majoring there has more than doubled.

About 16 per cent of the faculty's intake last year were students who had a university admission score of 85 points and above, said Associate Professor Paulin Straughan, vice-dean of the faculty.

This is up from just 6 per cent in the 2008 intake. Half the students in last year's intake had a score of 80 and above.

These admission scores are computed from a student's A-level grades, with 90 being the maximum score.

"It is quite clear that the students we are getting are not those who come in because they cannot get in anywhere else," said Professor Brenda Yeoh, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences.

"They come in because they have a particular passion for humanities or social sciences."

She added that the faculty's rising popularity is due to people realising the merits of a broad-based education.

"The world... is increasingly interconnected," she said. "To meet the challenges... an integrated, broad perspective is very important." This was what drew student Chua Pheng Hui to major in economics and actuarial studies, a joint degree offered by the NUS and Australian National University.

The 25-year-old, who scored three distinctions in his A levels, was considering other degree options such as business and accountancy.

"I chose economics because rather than specialising in just one field, I can do more stuff," said Mr Chua.

"Some people think arts and social sciences are very soft subjects, but you get to learn a lot of skills. It is a way of thinking."

Ms Tan Sock Keng, who scored four distinctions in her A levels, chose to read history at the faculty despite receiving offers from overseas.

"A history student may not have specialised skills like banking, but you learn critical thinking, and you are able to adapt quickly to environments," said the 22-year-old.

The faculty takes in about 1,500 students a year, who choose majors ranging from economics to Japanese studies. It will offer a new major in global studies in June.

http://www.edvantage.com.sg/edvantag..._sciences.html
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