SINGAPORE – The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and the five polytechnics will conduct selections for the Early Admissions Exercise (EAE) largely online for most courses to ensure the safety of applicants and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Graduating N- and O-level students can apply for early admission to ITE Nitec and Higher Nitec courses respectively from May 27 to June 3.

As for early admission into courses at the polytechnics, final-year ITE students can apply from June 11 to 17, while graduating O-level students can apply from June 25 to July 1.

Implemented in 2016, the EAE provides a pathway for graduating ITE, N-level and O-level students to apply for and receive conditional offers for admission to ITE and the polytechnics.

They can do so before receiving their final grades.

Students are admitted based on their aptitudes and interests instead of just academic grades. They may be required to submit portfolios, undergo interviews and take aptitude tests as part of the selection process.

They will have to meet various minimum entry requirements before their conditional offers are confirmed.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Monday (May 18) that it is proceeding with the exercise amid the Covid-19 pandemic as the EAE is an important admissions route that takes into account students’ demonstrated aptitudes and interests, beyond academic grades.

“It has been a key route of admissions for many students who aspire to pursue specific courses in the polytechnics or ITE in line with their passions and interests,” it added.

The institutions will try to use electronic means such as online interviews or portfolio submissions over e-mail, but on-campus selection will be needed for some courses where the selection process “cannot be meaningfully replicated in a remote manner”.

Examples include ITE’s Nitec in nursing and Higher Nitec in performance production, as well as Nanyang Polytechnic’s diploma in oral health therapy.

MOE added: “In all instances where applicants need to come onto campus, the polytechnics and ITE will ensure that appropriate safe management measures are put in place.”

This includes staggering assessment slots and designating waiting areas to avoid the mingling of applicants.

Ngee Ann Polytechnic will be using an artificial intelligence (AI) platform to help with its EAE assessment and selection process.

It started with three schools – business and accountancy, film and media studies and health sciences – last year. This year, two more schools have been included – infocomm technology, and life sciences and chemical technology.

The AI platform can read application write-ups submitted by students and interact with them through an online chat to gauge their aptitude and competencies.

MOE noted that the polytechnics and ITE will give additional support to applicants who face difficulties with the online selection process, such as students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Students can also approach their own schools for help, MOE added. For example, the online interviews and assessments may be conducted in students’ schools instead of at home, with IT equipment loaned from the school.

Working adults can also apply to polytechnics via the EAE from June 8 to July 5. This will be the second year that the scheme is opened to them.

Applicants should be Singaporeans or permanent residents, with at least two years of relevant work experience, and they should submit employment records and employer recommendations.

The polytechnics will holistically assess applicants’ work experience to determine the relevance of the competencies and skills gained from their work to their course of interest.

Those who are found suitable, but whose past academic grades do not meet the minimum entry requirements, can show they have the specified skill sets for their chosen courses via supplementary assessments.