Republic Poly admits it could have picked up discrepancies earlier

This article is more than 12 months old

Poly says students asked to leave on first day of school made application errors, but admits it could have spotted this earlier

Educators and experts say that Republic Polytechnic (RP) did the right thing in asking 16 students to leave after it had mistakenly admitted them.

By withdrawing the students' acceptance letters and helping them find alternative places elsewhere, RP had the correct solution, they said, but it was for a problem that could have been avoided had more checks been done before the acceptance letters were sent out.

RP has apologised for the "administrative lapse" and acknowledged that "it could have picked up (on) the discrepancies earlier". The students were asked to leave on the first day of school.

In an earlier report, two students whom The New Paper spoke to said they had keyed in the correct grades while submitting their applications during the recent Direct Admissions Exercise.

On April 16, they were informed by RP that the system registered their grades differently, and that they had not made the minimum cut-off points for their courses.

Their places were rescinded "out of fairness to other unsuccessful applicants", said RP registrar Shanmugasundar W. in a statement to media on Monday.

In response to further queries from TNP yesterday, Mr Shanmugasundar said: "... upon our further checks before the start of school, we found discrepancies between the grades that they had entered in the system and their actual grades as reflected in the scanned copy of the transcripts that they had uploaded."

The students were then contacted for "verification interviews" on April 16.

Mr Shanmugasundar said the students acknowledged the errors they made in their applications. These errors made them ineligible for any of RP's courses because their net aggregate score exceeded 26 points.

He added: "We acknowledge that we could have picked up the discrepancies earlier.

"Going forward, RP will verify applicants' grades before making a course offer. We will adjust our processes in time for the next intake in 2019."

According to Mr Shanmugasundar, the school assisted all affected students in applying for courses at other polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education.

As of yesterday, 11 students had accepted offers, while the rest are "pending acceptance" or plan to re-take their O Levels.

NUS Associate Professor Tan Ern Ser said that allowing the students to stay at RP would have been "unfair to others who did not qualify and were not wrongly informed".

National Institute of Education Associate Professor Jason Tan added: "It's good there is a commitment to trying to find every citizen a post-Secondary education place. The students won't just be left in the cold."

A polytechnic lecturer who declined to be named said students who could not make the cut-off score might find it hard to catch up with their peers if they were admitted.

He said: "The course might be too tough for the students and it's not worth it in the long run. It's not just about liking the subject, they have to be able to handle it."

Mr Liu Muyao, 21, who successfully appealed to get into Singapore Polytechnic's Aeronautical Engineering in 2014 even though his results didn't meet the cut-off, feels the error was "not the students' fault".

"The school should have detected any discrepancies from the start and informed them earlier," he said.

Added Dr Tan Ern Ser: "It is painful for the students, but they should learn to move on. For all they know, the mistake may turn out to be a blessing in disguise."