A Wealth of Choices and Opportunities

Despite being a relatively new academic institution, JCU Singapore has been rapidly expanding since its establishment in 2003, welcoming a whopping 2000 students through its doors in 2010. We speak to two students and find out why JCU Singapore was the next step for them.

By Benjamin Lim

Captain James Cook once said, “Ambition leads me not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.”

Named in honour of the legendary explorer, James Cook University Australia is one of the leading tropical research universities in Australia. In line with its vision of “Providing a Better Life for People in the Tropics”, the Australian university established JCU Singapore, its first full-fledged offshore campus, in 2003.

Despite JCU Singapore’s small campus size and limited facilities as compared to other institutions, it offers students unsurpassed opportunities.

One such student benefiting from this bounty of opportunities is Monica Tan, a Hospitality and Tourism Management graduate from Temasek Polytechnic.

Unsurpassed distinction

After receiving her diploma, Monica was unsure whether she wanted to continue studying or start working immediately. After working at a tour agency for a year, she finally made up her mind to join JCU Singapore.

The 23-year-old enrolled in the business programme at JCU Singapore in March 2010, the first of three intakes. Students can also join in July and October, and this staggered intake system benefits those who are still undecided.

Monica: “I was actually considering a few universities besides JCU Singapore, and first learned of the school through a career fair. Being a direct offshore campus means there will be a direct relationship between the two universities, and the curriculum and modules offered will be the same as those in Australia, albeit taught in an Asian context. Since tuition fees and living expenses are much more expensive overseas, the Singapore campus offers a much more viable alternative.”

Monica was enthusiastic when talking about her course of study.

Monica: “Only JCU Singapore offers a double major for its undergraduate programme, allowing me to attain a general business degree and at the same time, also specialise in Tourism Management. Hence, I am presented with more options and opportunities in my career since I can switch tracks at any time. JCU Singapore is also strong in hospitality and tourism. Half of the world's top researchers in this field belong to our faculty.*”

19-year-old Bronwen Caroline Appel echoes Monica’s sentiments. A former student of the Canadian International School in Bangalore, Bronwen moved to Singapore with her family.

Currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, the 19-year-old's interest in the subject was sparked by her experiences in India.

Bronwen: “I have always been interested in Psychology and after working in an orphanage in Bangalore, I felt the need to work with children. Having a degree would allow me to better understand children’s needs and thinking, thus I can work with them on a deeper level. JCU Singapore offered an internationally recognised qualification locally so it met my requirements.”

On the fast track

Unlike a conventional four-year psychology degree programme, JCU Singapore offers students a fast-track three-year route. This is a fantastic scheme which Bronwen enjoys – the shorter study period keeps her on her toes as opposed to other Australian degrees, and also keeps her motivation up throughout her studies.

For Monica, the benefits of the fast-track programme are even greater.

Monica: “My actual study duration is one and a half years because I transferred some credits from my diploma. As a result, our schedule becomes packed and we have a shorter holiday period as compared to others. However this is actually beneficial to us because in order to maintain our study momentum and rigour for a fast-track programme, we cannot afford to go on a break for too long.”

The global classroom

JCU Singapore also welcomes students from all over the globe, including Europe and other parts of Asia. This creates a vibrant student culture and expands the dimensions of learning.

Monica: “Working on projects with other students is quite different from my past experiences due to differences in personality and character. As we get to know one another better, we have to adapt our working styles accordingly. Some of my project mates come from Asian countries where English is not widely spoken, so in a group we learnt to help one another and overcome these shortcomings together."

While small in size, JCU does not compromise on their students’ learning.

Bronwen: “Besides a well-stocked library and a beautifully decorated Student Lounge providing a relaxed setting for project discussions, JCU Singapore students can also access the parent university’s online portal, a treasure trove of journals and publications. Such e-resources come in handy for essays and projects which require literature reviews, and is one of the added bonuses of the direct relationship between JCU Singapore and its parent university.”

Not just pure memorisation

As part of the ‘initiative learning’ method which the university promotes, students are encouraged to participate actively in class and share their thoughts and ideas with both peers and teachers. This two-way process develops students into more analytical and self-reliant individuals.

Bronwen recalls a lecturer who left a deep impression on her.

: “Dr. Thiru, my sociology lecturer, presented us with countless interesting lectures. I especially enjoyed learning about the differences in cultures and how they play an intricate role in our everyday lives. His lectures were never boring and made learning fun.”

A home away from home

For students who yearn to experience overseas academic life in the Australian campus, they can apply for a transfer and can even choose to complete their studies there.
This makes students feel like they are really part of the James Cook community, despite being based thousands of miles from Australia.

In fact, it is this special relationship between the Australian and Singapore campus that has left a deep impression on Monica.

Monica: “It has been an enjoyable experience interacting with students of different nationalities, and being in an offshore campus makes me feel like I'm overseas while at home still. In other words, it is the best of both worlds!”

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