Institute of Technology or University of Technology is a designation employed for a wide range of learning institutions awarding different types of degrees and operating often at variable levels of the educational system. It may be an institution of higher education and advanced engineering and scientific research or professional vocational education, specializing in science, engineering, and technology or different sorts of technical subjects. It may also refer to a secondary education school focused in vocational training. The term institute of technology is often abbreviated IT and is not to be confused with information technology.
The English term polytechnic appeared in the early 19th century, from the French École Polytechnique, engineering school founded in 1794 in Paris. The French term comes from the Greek πολύ (polú or polý) meaning "many" and τεχνικός (tekhnikós) meaning "arts".
While the terms institute of technology and polytechnic are synonymous, the preference concerning which one is the preferred term varies from country to country.
Singapore retains a system similar but not the same as in the United Kingdom from 1970–1992, distinguishing between polytechnics and universities, but also including a third component, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Unlike the British Polytechnic (United Kingdom) system Singapore Polytechnics do not offer bachelors, masters or PhD degrees. Under this system, most Singaporean students sit for their O-Level examinations after a four or five years of education in secondary school, and apply for a place at either ITE, a polytechnic or a pre-university centre (a junior college or the Millennia Institute, a centralized institute). Polytechnic graduates may be granted transfer credits when they apply to local and overseas universities, depending on the overall performance in their grades, as well as the university's policies on transfer credits. A few secondary schools are now offering six-year program which leads directly to university entrance.
Polytechnics offer three-year diploma courses in fields such as information technology, engineering subjects and other vocational fields, like psychology and nursing. There are 5 polytechnics in Singapore. They are namely:
- Singapore Polytechnic
- Ngee Ann Polytechnic
- Temasek Polytechnic
- Nanyang Polytechnic
- Republic Polytechnic
ITE offers shorter programmes up to 2-year certificates in a wide variety of fields, ranging from beauty therapy to nursing, electronics, business and information technology. There are currently three colleges within ITE. One of them is a recently opened large campus while the other two are each composed of five smaller campuses which will be replaced in the coming years by a large campus for each college. The three colleges are:
Nanyang Technological University (public research university) offers up PhD degree level engineering education. Another comprehensive university known as National University of Singapore (public research university) also provides up to PhD level engineering education.
A new public university (Singapore Institute of Technology) for polytechnic diploma holders, was announced in 2009. It was scheduled to be opened in 2011, but had its first student intake in August 2010.
Another new public university Singapore University of Technology and Design opened in 2012.
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