SIM University (UniSIM) will be setting up an internship office as it rolls out its full-time degree courses over the next few years.

The office will prepare students for work attachments and source opportunities for them.

But, unlike internship programmes in other universities, it will not match the students with work opportunities.

"The students will have to compete for them, the way they compete for jobs in the real world," said UniSIM president Cheong Hee Kiat yesterday, as he gave more details of the university's proposed work-study programme that will be part of its full-time degree courses.

"We will put up the list of positions available and they will have to apply for them and go for interviews," he added.

In August, it was announced that UniSIM, along with the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT), will expand programmes to offer more places for degree hopefuls in Singapore.

The courses at UniSIM and SIT will be more practice-oriented and closely linked to industry.

The schools will also offer programmes that combine work and study, called cooperative education in the United States.

Professor Cheong did not say when UniSIM would start offering the full-time degrees, but speaking after a graduation ceremony for the Class of 2012 yesterday, he said university officials had visited three universities - Drexel and Northeastern in the US, and Waterloo in Canada - to study how cooperative education programmes are run.

He said cooperative education is not the same as job internships that students undertake now. At Drexel, for example, work attachment experiences for students are carefully selected to ensure they build on what is taught in class.

He said some of the best practices they have seen overseas will be combined to produce a "distinctive" cooperative education programme at UniSIM.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, who officiated at UniSIM's graduation ceremony in the morning, said the university's strong industry links and orientation will enable it to provide its own brand of full- time degrees. Addressing some 450 graduands and their families, he praised UniSIM's plans to adopt "open admissions" criteria that will take into account work experience and talent.

It will also encourage its students to acquire specialist knowledge in more than one discipline.

For example, a student taking a logistics degree can also take courses in fields such as organisational psychology. "This will help students to expand and deepen their skill sets and prepare them for a workplace where there is a growing premium for versatility," said Mr Tharman.

Acting Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Chan Chun Sing, who officiated at the afternoon session, stressed the need for lifelong learning.

UniSIM offers 55 academic programmes and admits about 4,000 students a year, with a total student population of about 12,000. This year's convocation will witness the graduation of its seventh cohort of over 1,800 students.