More Singaporeans choose to study tech over law in university
Computer science courses are proving more popular among Singapore's youth. Source: Shutterstoc/ZoranOrcik

Interest in law is dwindling among Singaporean school-leavers as two of the nation’s top universities report a decline in the number of students stating law as their first degree choice, The Straits Times reports.

Where the love for law has gone cold, computing courses are hot. University heads say this trend is due to the job prospects offered by each field, with computer science offering better salaries and more jobs than law.

National University of Singapore (NUS) vice-provost (undergraduate education and student life) Bernard Tan said the government’s warning on the oversupply of law graduates in the nation could have influenced applicants.

“When the Law Minister says there is an oversupply of law graduates, people take notice,” Tan said.

Law Minister K. Shanmugam three years ago warned there may not be enough training contracts and jobs at the city state’s law firms to keep up with the oversupply of law graduates.

The caution seems to have scared the country’s youth away from a legal career, judging by the number of applicants applying for law as their first choice this year. The NUS saw a 17 percent drop in the number of applications this year, compared with last year, while Singapore Management University (SMU) reported a 22 percent decrease.

For NUS law dean Simon Chesterman, this marked shift in interest could be a silver lining for students in the long-term, in the sense only those who are really passionate about law will be driven to apply.

“Anecdotally, one of the consequences of the market shift is that students think more carefully about whether they are applying to do law because they have a passion for it, or simply because they are getting good grades,” Chesterman said.

Law students at Robert Gordon University. Source: Robert Gordon University

Chesterman says this marked shift in interest could be good in the long term since only those who are really passionate about law will be driven to apply. Source: Robert Gordon University

“This is a good thing because those who get the most out of a law degree – and who contribute the most to the profession – are those driven not just by grades or salary, but by a love of learning and a commitment to justice.”

For now, the trend seems to show applicants are more interested in the higher salaries and brighter job prospects they believe will come with a computer science degree. Computer science courses saw a jump of 35 percent in the number of applications listing it as their first choice.

Tan points to the youth’s interest in mobile technologies as another drive behind the explosion in interest in this field.

“Big data is now part of every industry – from finance to telcos to health care,” Tan said.

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