Trinity College Dublin to Provide Singapore’s First Degrees in Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy

Trinity’s New Groundbreaking International Collaboration with Singapore Institute of Technology

TCD Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast, Prof Tan Chin Tiong, President, SIT. Mr Chan Lee Mun, Principal/CEO, NYP, Minister for Health in Singapore, Mr Gan Kim Yong and Irish Ambassador to Singapore Joe HayesTCD Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast, Prof Tan Chin Tiong, President, SIT. Mr Chan Lee Mun, Principal/CEO, NYP, Minister for Health in Singapore, Mr Gan Kim Yong and Irish Ambassador to Singapore Joe Hayes 

In the first international collaboration of its kind for Trinity College Dublin, it will provide degrees in occupational therapy and physiotherapy to students in Singapore. Trinity College Dublin and the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) signed a partnership this week, offering the degrees that are designed, taught and awarded by Trinity College Dublin. The signing of the agreement was witnessed by the Minister for Health in Singapore, Mr Gan Kim Yong, Singapore.

The degrees will be Singapore’s first full-time degrees in occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

Classes for the pioneer cohort have started and are currently being conducted at Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP), forming part of the SIT distributed campus. All students already have diplomas in occupational therapy and physiotherapy and the new Bachelor in Science programmes in occupational therapy and physiotherapy provided by Trinity will now confer them with an honours degree on graduating after one year.

SIT, established in 2009, isan initiative of the Singapore Ministry of Education offering undergraduate degree programmes for polytechnic graduates. In partnership with various leading overseas universities, including Trinity College Dublin, SIT has brought to Singapore some of the world’s top industry-focused degree programmes targeted at growth sectors of the economy.

Singapore and Ireland share many similarities in their healthcare environment and population demographics. Singapore is a small country with an increasing ageing population and an increased focus of healthcare delivery has been on managing chronic disease. In the last number of years in Ireland there has been a considerable shift of resources and activity to the primary health care sector and this has led to opportunities for physiotherapists and occupational therapists to develop and lead on a number of new initiatives in triage, rehabilitation and extended care.

As Singapore continues to evaluate the impact of an ageing population and changing demographics, there is an increasing demand for more allied health professionals and rising expectations for medical services. SIT recognises the need for a skilled workforce of allied health professionals who will provide health care for the people of Singapore.

Commenting on the significance of the partnership, President of SIT, Professor Tan Chin Tiong, said: “The need for more qualified professionals in the health sciences field in Singapore is apparent. Our partnership with Trinity College Dublin is a great opportunity for existing diploma-holder practitioners to upgrade themselves locally. Previously, the only avenue to further one’s studies in occupational therapy and physiotherapy was to go abroad. This requires large sacrifices in terms of investing time and cost, as well as being away from home and loved ones. With SIT’s degree offerings, students can obtain an affordable world-class education without the emotional burden of being away from family. The Bachelor of Science degree programmes ensure that SIT students will learn the latest developments in healthcare and graduate with industry-relevant skills and knowledge to cope with the needs and challenges of the future health system in Singapore.”

TCD Provost, Dr Patrick Prendergast continued: “I welcome this collaboration between our University and the Singapore Institute of Technology. The programmes in physiotherapy and occupational therapy have attracted an excellent cohort of students and on graduating I expect they will make a meaningful difference in their future professions. The success of the programmes will be seen by the people of Singapore through enhanced healthcare service provision. We look forward to working closely with SIT over the coming years and expanding the current student intake as well as the programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, providing access to an education of the highest international standards.”

“The strengths in education and health have long been recognised in Singapore and it is acknowledged as an educational hub and a centre of excellence in Asia. There is a long history of students from Singapore coming to Trinity to study medicine. We are delighted to be now in a position that we will have graduates in other health science areas.”

Dr Juliette Hussey, Head of Physiotherapy in Trinity’s School of Medicine has been appointed the Singapore Institute of Technology TCD Academic Director.

The Bachelor of Science (Occupational Therapy) degree programme aims to facilitate the development of occupational therapy graduates through enquiry and problem-based learning, which trains them to reflect, critically evaluate their practice and provide client-centred occupation-focused interventions. Students will have four modules throughout the one year programme which are focused on the practice of Primary Care, Mental Health, Older Adults and Cognitive Rehabilitation. During the Overseas Immersion Programme (OIP) in Dublin, the students will have the opportunity to observe Occupational Therapy Practice in a number of clinical settings.

Similarly, the objectives of the Bachelor of Science (Physiotherapy) degree programme are targeted at developing the students’ analytical skills, providing an in depth understanding of global health issues and how physiotherapy can address the challenges in healthcare delivery. A particular emphasis of the programme is the management of chronic disease through exercise interventions. There are a total of five modules in this degree programme, of which ‘Advanced Physiotherapy Practice’ will be completed during the six-week OIP in Dublin. Graduates of this programme will be equipped with an understanding of management, leadership and wider issues such as health policy, health service delivery and implementation strategies for change and development, which will enable them to initiate, drive and evaluate the services required for the future health system in Singapore. Students will complete a clinical placement in Dublin during the OIP which will allow them to gain experience of clinical practice in Ireland.

The inaugural intake comprises a total of 83 students, of which an estimated 20 percent have been awarded scholarships by public and private hospitals and will have a job upon graduation.

Graduates of both programmes will be equipped with skills in critical analysis, service planning, leadership and global health all of which are important in driving both professions forward and meeting the healthcare needs of the people of Singapore and particularly the management of those with chronic disease.