Juggling full-time work and a part-time degree can be overwhelming.
Yet, two NTUC union members decided to embark on this journey they believed that upgrading would carve a better future for themselves and their families.
What sets them apart from others on this path of self-improvement was they could work and study with a peace of mind with the help of the National Trades Union Congress-Singapore University of Social Sciences (NTUC-SUSS) Sponsorship scheme.
With up to 80 per cent of their course fees covered, these individuals who were at different life stages share how being union members made a difference to them.
Aspiring To Create
After graduating with a diploma, Charmaine Han Huiyi, 25, decided to join the workforce as a veterinary nurse to help support her family.
Given any other option, she would have chosen to pursue a degree to expand her career opportunities.
But she never lost hope of furthering her studies.
When she switched to the biomedical industry to work as a senior quality control associate at GSK, it reignited her drive to pursue a degree in her field of work.
“I have always wanted to create better medical products to serve people, and I felt that understanding the application of engineering techniques in biological sciences and medicine will empower me with more knowledge,” said Charmaine, who is a member of the Chemical Industries Employees Union (CIEU).
In the process of researching towards her degree programme, she found out about the NTUC-SUSS Sponsorship scheme, to which she applied for and was successful.
Today, she is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in biomedical engineering. Charmaine shared that 80 per cent of her $26,000 course fee was covered by the sponsorship and government grants, and she took an education loan to cover the remaining fee.
She said: “The NTUC-SUSS sponsorship has relieved me of financial stress and allowed me to focus more on my studies. As a working adult, managing finances while pursuing higher education can be challenging, but the sponsorship has provided me with a sense of security.
“Additionally, the sponsorship has provided me with access to various resources and support systems, such as academic advising and career services, that have been invaluable in helping me achieve my academic and professional aspirations.”
Additionally, Charmaine also tapped on NTUC Income’s Insurance Savings Plan to help safeguard her finances.
A Family Man Follows His Dreams
After dabbling in the facilities sector for two years, mechanical engineering diploma holder Alan Liu Yusheng felt it was time for him to further pursue his studies.
The 33-year-old technology specialist at the Singapore International Facility Management Association (SIFMA) believed that if he wanted better career prospects, he had to upgrade himself.
“I have been an NTUC member for close to eight years now, and was certainly happy to note that I could be eligible for the NTUC-SUSS sponsorship,” said Alan, who is a member of the Union of Telecoms Employees of Singapore (UTES).
Like Charmaine, Alan also had up to 80 per cent of his $16,000 BSc Facilities Management with Minor degree programme course fee sponsored by the scheme. He paid for the balance using his savings.
“Beyond the financial support, this is a form of motivation for me to continue do well for my studies as the sponsorship requires my grades to be consistently maintained at a certain level.
“It is seriously not easy managing part-time studies while working full-time. There are trying days, but I have to press on. I am thankful that the sponsorship has allowed me to pursue this opportunity to grow,” he said.
Alan shared that his initial draw to become a NTUC union member was the Linkpoints rebate that he and his wife enjoyed when they shopped at FairPrice supermarkets.
Over the years, he got to experience other specially curated perks for members, such as the Union Training Assistance Programme (UTAP).
“As we build up our careers and families as working professionals, it is helpful that being NTUC members gives us some leg up in these ways,” he said.
NTUC-SUSS Sponsorship Scheme
NTUC union members who are interested in the sponsorship scheme can apply for the next intakes here.
Affirming this partnership, SUSS President Tan Tai Yong said NTUC is one of SUSS’ valued partners in its pursuit to upgrade working adults to contribute to various sectors of the economy.
“Our hybrid learning approach enables students to flexibly pursue industry-relevant tertiary education with work and family commitments,” said Professor Tan.