With the new year starting, the National University of Singapore (NUS), has just announced that it is rolling out ‘grade-free’ system for its freshmen. The reason cited by NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan is to help reduce the obsession with grades among students.
According to Straits Times, how its freshmen perform in exams may no longer count in their final mark. The system is already in place at NUS’ medical school, and will be rolled out in phases to other faculties such as law and engineering. Over the next few years, once the system is adopted by all the NUS faculties, first year students will no longer graded from A to F, but instead, they will just be given a distinction, pass, or fail in their modules.
There will still be tests and exams, though, but the grades from the first year will not be taken into consideration when students calculate their Cumulative Average Point, the points which determines the quality of the degree awarded at the end of their course.
The claim that students are obsessed with grades is not unfounded: NUS have always attracted competitive students, as many perceived the University to produce “better quality” education certificates.
While this might be unrelated, there were several cases of suicides over the past few years in NUS. Last year, a year one student from the National University of Singapore (NUS) University Scholars’ Programme (USP) was found dead in the varsity’s UTown campus. The cause of the suicide has yet to be confirmed by any media outlet.
A few years back too, a third-year bioengineering major from the National University of Singapore died on Mar 26. The victim was believed to have committed suicide due to unfulfilled expectations in school.
Maybe it’s a good idea for the new grade-free system to be in place, to help students cope with the increasing level of stress induced by peer competition.