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More Than Half of Former ITE Students Upgraded to Higher Qualifications within 5 to 10 Years of Completing Their ITE Course

Jointly released by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM)

A survey conducted by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) in 2007 found that more than half of the former students of the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) surveyed had upgraded or were upgrading to higher qualifications within 5 to 10 years of completing their ITE course, with almost two-thirds attaining Diploma qualifications.

2.   The survey was conducted to understand the educational upgrading trends amongst former ITE students who have completed their studies1. They were surveyed on their educational upgrading histories and plans, employment details and achievements from upgrading.

Key Survey Findings

3.   The survey results indicate that over half (53%) of former ITE students upgraded2 within 5 to 10 years of graduation. On average, almost two-thirds of them upgraded to a Diploma. The majority (82%) of former ITE Science & Technology (S&T) students who upgraded continued pursuing S&T courses.

4.   ITE upgraders indicated that upgrading has helped them enhance their career progression and prospects, as well as improve their skills, productivity and salaries. Nitec and Higher Nitec upgraders enjoyed wage premiums of 11.6% and 12.8% respectively from upgrading relative to their peers who did not upgrade.

5.   Overall, upgraders based their decision to upgrade on their desire to fulfill career and personal aspirations. Amongst those who upgraded to a Higher Nitec or Diploma qualification, the main reason for upgrading was to secure a better paying job. At higher qualification levels (e.g. Advanced/Specialist Diplomas and Degree), the proportion who upgraded in order to qualify for promotion to the next level was higher than that at lower qualification levels. The proportion who upgraded to fulfill personal aspirations remained consistent at about 30% across all levels.

6.   As a result of the various upgrading pathways available to Diploma holders and ITE graduates (including full-time study at our local universities and polytechnics, distance-learning, part-time and overseas study), the proportion of degree-holders in each cohort is 43%. Correspondingly, the proportion of those with only ITE qualifications is reduced to 12% and those with Diploma qualifications, 21%.


7.   The upgrading of former ITE and polytechnic students has resulted in a significant improvement in the educational profile of a typical Primary 1 cohort, based on the results from this survey on ITE graduates and the findings from a similar study on polytechnic upgrading conducted in 2006. Overall, the supply and share of degree-holders in each cohort is substantially increased. ITE upgraders also enjoy positive returns from their upgrading efforts in the form of improved wages, skills and career prospects.


19,340 students who had graduated from ITE between 1997 and 2001 responded to the survey.

2Upgrading is measured relative to the first certificate that the respondent graduate from ITE with. E.g. Nitec graduates who went on to pursue a Higher Nitec certificate would be classified as upgraders.