| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
IMPLEMENTATION OF 10-YEAR ITE COLLEGE MASTER PLAN
Stage 1 – Research & Conceptualisation (2000 – 2003)
A total review of ITE’s Education and Pedagogic Model was done, following study visits to overseas institutions on learning design and pedagogy ideas. A College Development Plan proposing the consolidation of 10 small campuses into three regional Colleges was proposed, taking into consideration the required land size, key design features, students’ needs and desired outcomes, implementation timeline and budget needed, was submitted to MOE. In line with the development of the three Colleges, a review of ITE’s Governance was initiated, leading to the implementation of ‘One ITE, Three Colleges’ Governance Model. At the same time, a rebranding exercise was conducted, with ‘Colleges’ replacing the former ‘Training Institutes’.
Stage 2 – Development of ‘Colleges of the Future’
2003 – 2004 : Developing ITE College East
2008 – 2010 : Developing ITE College West
2011 – 2012 : Developing ITE College Central
After ascertaining the key requirements for the Colleges, Tenders for the design and development of the new campuses were called and evaluated. Construction kicked off in accordance with the development timeline. At this point, a Campus Planning Development Committee (CPDC) also identified the design spaces and specifications required for all the learning facilities, based on the new courses to be offered, planned enrolment, and the desired learning philosophy and outcomes. Following this, training equipment and furniture needed to support the learning facilities were proposed and sourced.
Unlike the First and Third Colleges which were developed under the conventional Government-funded approach, for our Second College, a different development model – Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Approach – was adopted for experimentation. ITE College West is the first social infrastructure to be developed under PPP Model in Singapore. It entailed working with a private sector partner to design, build and operate its assets and deliver the services required by the College. Under a 27-year lease contract, ITE pays annual rental to the private partner, and focuses on the delivery of quality VTE. Although developed and maintained by the private partner, there is no compromise on the learning needs of students, as ITE has priority and full access to all facilities at all times.
Stage 3 – Transition Planning
To manage ITE’s transition, a comprehensive Campus Transition Plan to move courses, furniture & equipment, and students from the old institutes to the new campuses, and engage stakeholders and the community, was implemented. Similar transition plans were done for all three Colleges.
Stage 4 – After Action Review
The Development Planning Steering Committee did a review of the learning points after the completion of each College. For example, when College East (CE) was completed, it was found that more could be done to design the facilities around the behaviours of staff and students and to employ more modular design for flexibility and scalability of programmes. College West (CW) under PPP, on the hand, presented some challenges in terms of flexibility by the private partner to respond to any required changes to the building.
However, a good learning experience from CW was the introduction of the concept of commercial enterprises on campus, which gave ITE the impetus to implement better commercial concepts in College Central (CC), where all commercial outlets congregate in a centralised commercial zone – the Zentrum – which is easily accessible by the public, too. The new CC also circumvented some of the challenges in previous campuses by creating a spacious fun and varied Student Activity Centre, which has successfully retained students in the campus even after classes, and provided valuable opportunity for lecturers to engage them meaningfully. All in, the three Colleges were completed on time, within specifications and budget.
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The Development Planning Steering Committee (DPSC) chaired by Director & CEO/ITE, and overseen by ADC (reports to the ITE Board), conceptualised and steered the development of the three Colleges. Extensive consultation with important players in the VTE eco-system, viz, Ministry of Education (MOE), current and prospective students, parents, alumni, faculty, employers, industry partners, community organisations and secondary schools was carried out. There was close coupling with key national agencies, like the Ministry of Manpower and Economic Development Board, to identify critical manpower needs, projected demands for future skills and industry sectors.
Working closely with Architects, Project Consultants and Contractors, and supported by our Campus Development and Estates (CDE) Team and College Planning & Development Committee (CPDC), the DPSC ensured that the development was on schedule and on budget, to meet the desired learning outcomes. Staff and students were consulted through multiple Focus Groups. Before the award of tender, staff were also invited to view and give their inputs on the various Design Models. Industry partners were actively engaged during the design stage of the planning of workshops and learning spaces. Throughout this process, the MOE and the ITE Board provided strong support in the form of policy direction and mobilisation of key resources.
The operationalisation of this initiative was further supported by Sub-Committees, which focused on identifying specific training equipment needs for the different Schools, purchase of furniture and equipment, as well as proposing inspirational names for the various locations and facilities within the Colleges. External authorities, such as the Land Transport Authority of Singapore, public transport operators and the local communities, were also engaged, as the Colleges sought to streamline the human and traffic flow arising from a sudden surge in student population, who need to commute to these Colleges, and to better manage ITE’s integration into the community.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The resources supporting the ITE Master Plan include:
The Singapore Government funded a Total Capital Expenditure of Singapore S$1 billion to build the three Colleges of the Future. Administered as a separate Development Budget, an annual amount was disbursed to ITE in phases by MOE, at different stages of the project development, to support the construction of the Colleges. To ensure value for money and that the approved budget was effectively utilised, each project underwent rigorous procurement process to ensure competitive pricing was achieved.
For the College West Project, which was developed via the PPP Model, although the initial capital expenditure was fully funded by the PPP Consortium (PPP Co), the monthly Unitary Payments, which are more than S$30 million annually, are funded by MOE.
Annual Operating Grant
On top of the Development Cost, MOE allocates an Annual Operating Grant of more than S$340 million to ITE, comprising an enrolment-based grant (based on student enrolment multiplied by an enrolment piece rate), and additional budget for: (1) Furniture & Training Equipment, and (2) IT Equipment, to ensure that training facilities and equipment stay relevant and up-to-date.
Human Capital Development
As the three new Colleges resulted in an expanded range of courses, from 34 in 2004 to 105 in 2013, which are increasingly more advanced, innovative and technology-based, and with enlarged student co-curricular activities and higher public expectations, ITE also strengthened Staff Capability Development, through:
• A budget of S$6.5 million, from MOE, to implement a new Total System Capability (TSC) Initiative (2007-2012). TSC is a holistic approach in human capital development through strengthening the faculty’s domain and cross-domain capabilities in existing and emerging technology areas, through undertaking industry projects and consultancies to level-up their industry relevance and professional know-how.
• A budget of S$124.7 million to implement a new Human Capital Plan (2009-2015), to strengthen academic and professional leadership, and enhance the faculty’s educational, technology and pedagogic capabilities. This initiative increased the pool of degree-level faculty, from only 40% in 2004, to 65% currently and, ultimately, to 70% by 2015.
Besides the Government, sponsorships and support from industry have also been instrumental. From less than 30 industry partners in 2004, ITE now has 100 active industry partnerships from key sectors, including Amada, Marina Bay Sands, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Rolls-Royce, Eurocopter, Bosch Rexroth, Conrad Hotel and Toon Boom Inc. The industry partners not only helped set up Centres of Technology at the Colleges, but also sponsored high-value capital-intensive equipment and technology to help faculty and students remain up-to-date. For example, Rolls Royce Singapore loaned a Trent 900 Engine with a commercial value of US$20 million for the Aerospace course. Amada Asia donated two CNC laser-cutting machines worth $2 million. Keppel FELS helped fabricate part of a ship, free of charge, for Marine and Offshore students. Without the sponsorship from industry partners, it would be difficult for ITE to attain such high levels of realism for quality Applied Learning within campus. Currently, ITE has more than 40 industry-sponsored technology centres.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The three Colleges of the Future resulted in a major breakthrough in career-focused VTE delivery and learning model for kinaesthetic youths, with significant turnaround in public recognition of VTE, as evidenced by:
1) Improved Education Outcomes
• Higher Student Enrolment – from 17,965 in 2000 to 21,796 in 2004 and 26,569 in 2013 (after completion of all three Colleges). This is a marked contrast to the 15,900 enrolment in 1992, when ITE first started with the smaller campuses after being restructured as a post-secondary institution. The margin of change in enrolment, from 1992 to 2000 (13%), and from 2000 to 2013 (49%), demonstrates the high efficacy and success of this Initiative.
• Higher Graduation Rate – from 71% in 2000, to 77% in 2004 and 83% in 2013.
• High Employment Outcomes, with 90% of graduates being employed within 6 months of graduation.
• High Student Satisfaction – In the national Customer Satisfaction Index of Singapore (CSISG) Survey, ITE scored 73.2% in 2013, making it the highest performing public education level, compared to the Polytechnics and Universities. In the first study, in 2010 (before College West and College Central were completed), ITE scored only 58%, indicating an impressive 26% improvement. Additionally, internal surveys show that 96% of students were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with their educational experience at ITE in 2013.
2) Enhanced Public Acceptance, with significant improvements in ITE’s Brand Equity Index, based on the independent Triennial Brand Equity Study – from 34% in the first study in 1997, to 37% in 2000, and a remarkable two-fold jump to 70% in 2013, when all three Colleges were completed. In addition, the following image attributes measured in the Study directly showed the significant impact of the Initiative on students and key stakeholders:
• Institution is well-recognised – from 16% in 2003 to 71% in 2013, a 55% point (344% increase).
• Institution encourages creativity and innovation – from 38% in 2003 to 72% in 2013, a 34% point (89% increase).
• Institution has modern facilities – from 43% in 2003 to 81% in 2013, a 38% point (88% increase).
• Among employers, ‘Courses reach Nationally-recognised Standards’ improved from 56% in 2003 to 83% in 2012, a strong 27% point (48% increase).
3) Higher responsiveness to industry and more education choices for students, with ITE now offering 105 full-time courses leading to industry-relevant occupations, covering 11 industry sectors, compared to only 34 courses across nine sectors in 2004.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The 10-year Colleges of the Future Master Plan comprised three extremely fast-track and complex development projects, which required stringent monitoring and tracking, established project management structure, financial discipline and strong collaboration among public- and private-sector stakeholders. It was led by the ADC, which provided regular updates to the ITE Board on the progress milestones, challenges met along the way, usage of funds, as well as other financial implications involved. The progress was also tracked quarterly and reported back to the Ministry, which funded the Initiative.
The ADC was supported by the DPSC, Campus Planning and Development Committee (CPDC) and CDE Team, all of which had clearly defined roles; hence, contributing to the overall success of the development projects.
The DPSC oversaw the progress on development and deployment of new policies to operationalise the transition from the smaller campuses to regional Colleges, and ensured that the needs of various stakeholders had been factored in. The CPDC comprised College end-users, who provided inputs on the physical requirements of the facilities to cater to pedagogic and students’ needs in response to dynamic changes in industry and students’ profiles.
As the in-house Project Management Team, CDE ensured that the execution of the projects was in line with the implementation schedule, approved budget and desired outcomes. This was achieved by clear lines of communication, strong engagement and commitment by the senior management of the consultants and contractors, and close monitoring through regular risk management and site progress meetings.
As one of the major Programmes under the ITE five-year Strategic Roadmaps, the College Master Plan was also tracked by the Strategic Planning Committee chaired by CEO/ITE, together with other programmes under the Roadmaps, through bi-annual reviews.
ITE also assessed the success of this Programme through eight Strategic Performance Indicators, which are tracked at the Board and Ministry level, as part of its annual Corporate Performance Review. The indicators include Brand Equity Index, Student Enrolment, Student Satisfaction, Student Success Rate, Graduate Employment Rate and Employer Satisfaction.
At the course/programme level, ITE used adopted a Feature Analysis Model, which is a multi-factor Course Evaluation Tool to evaluate individual courses for efficiency and effectiveness, based on a matrix of Demand, Cost, Outcome and Employment Indicators. The annual assessment and ranking of courses offered by the Colleges using this Model is presented to all Directors of Schools and Senior Management at an Annual Course Review Forum.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Balancing Needs and Wants
While wanting to forge ahead in VTE, ITE had to be mindful of the profile of its students – kinaesthetic learners who perform poorly in the National Examinations, and largely have lower literacy and numeracy skills. Care had to be taken to ensure that the curriculum designed, while meeting the higher expectations of employers, could be easily understood and learnt by these less-academically-inclined students. More pervasive use of innovative methods and technology like Authentic Learning, Immersive Virtual Teaching and Online Curriculum Delivery were, however, well accepted by such kinaesthetic learners.
Societal Prejudice – When the Master Plan was announced, there was disbelief and even ‘outrage’ among some public members. Many ‘academically-brighter’ students in the schools and universities felt that the lowest rung of non-academically-inclined learners (or ‘non-achievers’) were ‘not deserving’ of such good infrastructure. Some even queried the Government’s high investment in vocational education vis-á-vis academic education. While strong political support, together with integrated communications and engagements with stakeholders and public have re-shaped public opinion, some negative stereotyping of VTE students, and pockets of ‘academic divide’ still exist.
• A small nation with land constraints, the State had to provide space for the three Colleges, of about 10 hectares each, in areas which were accessible.
• The initiative led to a new way of delivering service to customers (VTE students) and stakeholders (parents and employers). This required ITE’s manpower to be reconfigured and redistributed. The consolidation offered economies of scale; yet, the academic and professional leadership team needed to be augmented (from 130 in 2004 to 300 by 2015). A Human Capital Plan was initiated to increase the professional leadership team and the ratio of graduate-level faculty, from only 40% in 2004 to 70% by 2015. This required justification of additional funding from ITE’s parent Ministry.