Singapore

Fewer students list law as top uni choice

Computer science courses proving to be popular first choice for students

School leavers eyeing a place in university this year appeared to lose some interest in law, but were eager to study anything related to computers.

Figures provided by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Singapore Management University (SMU) show a drop in the number of students listing law as their first-choice course.

Law is one of the most popular courses at NUS, just after medicine and dentistry.

But this year, 17 per cent fewer applicants listed law as their first choice compared with last year. SMU saw a similar drop, of 22 per cent this year, compared with last year.

Still, both universities are maintaining their intake - NUS at 250 students and SMU at 180 - and applicants still need top grades to get into law.

NUS law dean Simon Chesterman said: "Even with the drop in application numbers, four students put law as their first choice for each place we have available... It certainly hasn't made it any easier for students to get a place at NUS Law."

NUS vice-provost (undergraduate education) Bernard Tan said warnings on the glut of law graduates, driven by overseas graduates, probably influenced students.

OVERSUPPLY

"When the Law Minister says there is an oversupply of law graduates, people take notice," he said.

Three years back, Law Minister K. Shanmugam had warned that while the number of law graduates is expected to grow by nearly a third by this year, the training contracts and jobs at law firms might not grow at the same rate.

Law graduates have to undergo six months' training before being admitted to the Singapore Bar. Most of these contracts go to local law graduates, leaving their foreign-educated peers to compete for the rest.

But if the interest in law is waning, interest in computing is heating up.

Dr Tan said there was a 35 per cent increase in the number of students listing computer science courses in NUS as their first choice.

The NUS School of Computing is offering 520 places this year, up from 370 places last year.

Higher demand has pushed up cut-off scores for the course. Previously A-level students could enter it with three Bs. Now they need at least two As.

SMU, which offers several specialist tracks in the field, including business analytics and cyber security, said the number of applicants who selected information systems as their first choice increased by 12 per cent from the previous year.

The university is offering 300 places this year in the course, 30 more than last year.

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