Jun 12, 2007

Should Citizens Get Priority for University Admission?

I have not been following this matter closely. But my understanding is that this year, many Singaporeans haven't been able to secure a place in our local universities. This is despite scoring A-level grades which, in previous years, would have enabled them to do so quite easily.

The question then arises - should Singaporean citizens get priority for university admission? After all, a high proportion of university places now go to foreign students.

I was rather surprised by these two bloggers' opinions on the matter -
Bart JP and Aaron Ng. They didn't seem to think that citizens should get priority for university admission.

But of course citizens should get priority.

Let's take it one simple step at a time.

Should a country and its government provide education opportunities for its people? Certainly.

That's a big reason why citizens pay taxes. So that the government can build kindergartens, primary schools, secondary schools, universities etc.

After all, we want our citizens to be well-educated, don't we? Our economy needs a skilled workforce, doesn't it? (Duh. That was so self-evident that it's absurd I even have to point it out).

Next question. When is a Singaporean citizen good enough to deserve a place in our local universities?

Well, if you had access to the relevant data, you could simply check the "market rates" from previous years. They would be a good indicator.

For example, if you looked at data from the past five years, you could say: "To get a place in NTU Engineering, you should score at least ____. To get a place in SMU Business, you should score around _________. To get a place in NUS Law, you must usually score _________." Etc.


Check with your junior college principal. JC principals usually keep track of such things. The "market rates" may vary a little from year to year, but typically they wouldn't fluctuate that much.

But apparently, this year the "market rates" did jump wildly. Like the Shanghai stock market, the market basically went mad. Previous years' rates no longer apply. Everything went haywire. University places are sharply short; and at least part of the reason is that local universities are absorbing an ever-increasing number of foreigners.

The basic point still remains. It is the responsibility of the government to provide adequate education opportunities for its citizens.

And right now, it seems that the education opportunities are simply not enough.

So it looks like we just might be beginning to revert back to the 1970s, when Singapore was a 3rd world country and many citizens didn't have a chance for higher education.

So much for progress.

Anyway, how did this rather surprising turn of events come about - that students scoring quite decent grades are simply not able to get a place in our universities?

Heh. Actually there's nothing surprising about it. Look at our property market. Look at our residential rental rates. Look at the crowds on our MRT trains and in our food courts. Look at the endless jam on the CTE.

And then look at our university situation.

See the pattern? Due to a massive intake of foreigners in recent years, our resident population has exploded. We've become the 2nd most crowded country in the world. And our current infrastructure just can't cope.

To their credit, both the
URA and the LTA already saw this coming and they've been scrambling to make the necessary changes.

But the Education Ministry didn't see it coming. Neither did the local universities.

And that, simply, is that.

Ask not what your country will do for you. Because in Singapore, the answer is - not much.

224 comments:

1 – 200 of 224   Newer›   Newest»
Aaron said...

Mr Wang,

I think you misread me. I am just not for the idea of lowering standards or wasting unnecessary resources for something a problem that the people created themselves. My concluding paragraph is reproduced here:

Generally, I agree that Singaporeans should be treated better than other people, but it should not come at the expense of lowering standards or wasting resources. Take a look across the causeway for a good case study.

Besides, you should go get the figures from all 3 universities on the number of foreign students in local universities. It's not as like the universities are selling out local students. The bulk of students are indeed local students.

I do not disagree with what you write. Your opinions are part of my basic beliefs towards education. However, I think we have to be mindful of compromising standards and wasting resources. The Dragon Year cohort issue is a man-made problem and it should not be conflated with the issue of providing adequate education. And, trust me, recruiting PhDs or training them are not like secondary school teachers. It's not easy to get good PhD holders. Would you be willing to accept substandard teachers just so everyone can get a degree? I don't think so, right?

Anyhow, I think you should read my post more carefully. I think Singaporeans already have priority. It seems to me that you are asking for Singaporeans to be given exclusivity, which I think smacks of what is happening across the causeway, i.e. bumiputra-ism. While our current system have some problems, I rather have these problems than to have the kind of system across the casueway.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Would you like to elaborate on the meaning of "wasting resources"?

If the public transport system is too congested and we build more roads or MRT lines, is that "wasting resources"?

If the healthcare system is overloaded by our rapidly growing population and we build more hospitals, is that "wasting resources"?

If in 2007 we give university places to Singaporeans who, in any previous year, WOULD have been able to qualify for NUS, NTU or SMU, is that "wasting resources"?

As I see it, "wasting resources" is when quite bright Singaporeans are forced to go overseas to get a university education -

if their parents are not well-off, this merely compounds the problem, for they may have to fork out $100,000 or $150,000 or $200,000.

How serious such a problem will be, will be clearer and clearer as these Singaporeans grow old and approach retirement ...

... and suddenly find that their savings are inadequate to support themselves.

That is another serious issue that worries the Singapore government. Is tha not so?

As for "lowering standards" -

China and India have more than 2,000,000,000 billion citizens. If you hand out enough scholarships to foreign students using taxpayers money, you probably can get 200,000 very bright Chinese & Indian students to come and totally occupy our local universities and polytechnics (and then some).

And all these 200,000 foreign students could well be smarter than 200,000 young Singaporean citizens seeking university education that year.

But what does that leave you with?
200,000 Singaporean citizens without a university education.

They won't even find it easy to emigrate, because they lack a degree.

Is that a desirable consequence? Do you see my point?

Will you now think a little further about your argument of "lowering standards"?

Anonymous said...

Aaron, you wrote: "Since many Singaporeans, especially Chinese Singaporeans like to have babies in the Dragon year, they should know full well what they are setting themselves up for in 18 years time... If you make the decision, bear with the consequences. Don’t start wailing for others to bail you out of the muck you willingly got yourself into."

1. A capable govt (that is worth its "salt" or pay) should have foreseen the problem 18 years ago, and made necessary adjustments. Why should the citizens be blamed?

2. If the problem is due to overpopulation only for this year, there is no need to lower the standard. Just keep to the same standard as the past years (in terms of certain numbers of As, Bs, etc). If you keep to the same percentage quota as in previous years, you are in fact raising the standard.

Pls read your own post carefully again.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang, you did not cover a crucial point: Are universities expanding their intake for foreigners while reducing the intake of locals?

Mr Wang Says So said...

When places are scarce (as they are this year), the universities should be reducing their intake for foreigners, and giving those places to locals.

If Singapore had unlimited resources, I wouldn't care if we built 500 new kindergartens and took in bright young starving kids from Ethiopia, Mozambique and Afghanistan.

In fact that would be a good thing.

boon said...

Aaron's arguments sound like something out of PAP's mouth.

Yet another example of how Singaporeans are treated as second-class citizens in their own country.

So please earn more, spend less, and protect yourself against such scenarios. This is one reason I enjoy Wang's personal finance articles.

Anonymous said...

Aaron,
I think your opinion can be torn apart quite easily, because it is not objective. It is very judgemental. You don't have to use Malaysia as your whipping boy to distract attention.
The issue is resource is not enough to go around Singaporeans.

And when you say 'And, trust me, recruiting PhDs or training them are not like secondary school teachers', I really don't trust you, because they are already many substandard teachers floating around in the local unis.

It is obvious that shortage of resource is a consequence of the foreign immigrants/trash policy, and of course the party concerned will just ask you to donate more $$$ to help the foreign students lah...so please donate more when you become nus alumni,Ok? I think they will give you a trophy every reunion.

Anonymous said...

i dunno laa wang. i think generally the ctry's going to hell on a speedboat.

on the one hand we're locking pple up b4 they've done anything at all.... you say terrorism, i say fine... but produce the fellas in court and adduce evidence bcos this denial of due process is the slippery slope to tyranny and makes a mockery of the rule of law. also the non-transparent nature of it all is what leads to the abuse of authority that we saw in alfian sa'at's case.

and then on the other hand they allow convicted felons to flee the jurisdiction. meanwhile they are playing fast and loose with tax payer money with no accountability - i am referring of course to most recently the edb audit and unsw but there's also micropolis and who knows wat else besides?

let this be an abject lesson: there's only one kind of democracy and dat's the checks and balances kind. it's high time we started behaving like a republic.

BL said...

To all,

The issue about the intakes for both foreigners and locals has been discussed in detail in this post.

Blogter said...

But what Wang's article did bring out which I also agree with is that Singapore is way too crowded. I cringe at the thought of our population increasing some more. It's getting difficult to find some peace and quiet anywhere in this country

I already as good as gave up hope of ever sending my children to Uni no matter how bright they are. I suspect Uni fees will just keep increasing until only the upper income can afford to get in.

Certainly seems questionable whether the interests of existing citizens are the priority in policy decisions.

Anonymous said...

Aaron, you wrote "trust me, recruiting PhDs or training them are not like secondary school teachers'".

I see that you are going to embark on a Master programme soon. You must be incredibly bright to have such profound understanding of not only the phd holders, but their recruiters as well. :)

Anonymous said...

Well, I love your parting statement A LOT. Yet, it is so true, it is scary.

Anonymous said...

These educational policies can be understood from the perverse pay incentives of the PAP ministers.

When your pay depends only on the top 4 or top 6 earners of Singapore residents (the sneaky term "Singapore residents" actually includes Singapore PRs), then you will no longer want to maximize the welfare of Singapore citizens alone.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"You don't have to use Malaysia as your whipping boy to distract attention."

Indeed, the Malaysian point is a complete red herring.

The bumiputra policy is already a bad one - favouring one class of citizens over another class of citizens.

Singapore is no less absurd - favouring one class of non-citizens over one class of citizens.

Try imagining this perverse situation:

Mr Wang, a Singaporean citizen, going to Malaysia and being treated like a bumi, and getting all the bumi privileges, getting a place in the Malaysian university, when non-bumi Malaysian citizens cannot.

THEN you will understand a little better how strange life is in Singapore.

Aaron said...

Mr Wang,

The original letter writer said the government should have built a new university to cater to the Dragon cohort. Do you honestly think that this is efficient use of resources? I think it's a waste to do that. Your example of public transport line is faulty. If it is something that people will use frequently, the investment is justified. However, building a new university, hiring qualified lecturers and coming up with courses for a once every 12 years phenomenon is obviously hard to justify.

I hope that Mr Wang will also consider my argument seriously. The Malaysian case I brought up is not a red herring. You go there and check out the situation yourself. The Malaysian government tried to give as many of their citizens degrees as possible. The end result was simply that even the truly unqualified got a paper, and basically, degrees in Malaysia are worthless, except for the few more established ones. The very same thing can happen in Singapore if we are not careful.

And, if everyone in the world is going to adopt a protectionist policy, we would never have progressed. How many of our society's leaders went to top universities overseas to learn under capable professors. If every country is going to be protectionist, then only the rich will get richer.

You are entitled to your opinion, and for most part, I agree with them. However, I disagree with an overzealous protectionist policy. Go check out Hui-Chieh's article on Singapore Angle. It is proof that Singaporeans haven't been short-changed. The absolute numbers of foreign students might have increased, but the percentage hasn't. And, I firmly believe that international students add value to our education system. They, coming from another different socio-political climate, often give perspectives in class that are very different from what we think. Even if I don't have the money to go overseas, at least these international students help give me a fresh perspective.

Anonymous said...

Lowering NUS's standards to accommodate lower-scoring Singaporeans would reduce the university's reputation abroad. American schools don't lower their standards, and their citizens compete with the whole world for places in their universities.

What is missing in Singapore is a second-tier university to accomodate these locals. Rather than asking the top schools to water down their standards, it would seem to be better to have some alternate choices. Let NUS and NTU compete with other world-class universities.

Anonymous said...

FYI, foreign students receive government grants too,70% of the entire course fee. In quantum, it is the same as what citizens enjoy.

only binding criterion: To work 3 years in Singapore.

If I were a foreigner from say, China or India (countries with a weaker currency against SGD) and I could get 70% subsidy for my undergrad course and be bonded to work here after that, I really don't mind coming to study here.

http://www.ntu.edu.sg/admissions/tuitionfee/ay2006-07.htm

https://team.nus.edu.sg/registrar/info/ug/UGTuition2006-7.pdf

http://www.smu.edu.sg/financial/fees/index.asp

Anonymous said...

Erm... but. Isn't NUS and NTU already second tiered Universities?

Aaron said...

It's perhaps a good idea to have a "second-tier" university, but people will also complain later that their degrees are not worth money. It's really between a rock and a hard place.

Anonymous said...

Aaron Ng! Why do you still insist (or imply) that accepting more Dragon-cohort students this year will lower the standards? For god sake, there are a lot more of them this year!

All Mr Wang is saying is that we keep the same standard as in the previous year (say, if everyone with grades BBC can get admitted into Arts faculty last year, then we should admit all applicants with BBC into Arts faculty again this year).

The people who should "lose out" due to this huge cohort of Singapore Dragon-kids should be the foreign students! We should just reduce the number of foreign students we accept for this year!

Do you understand now, Mr Aaron Ng?

Anonymous said...

If I were in the same shoe as Aaron Ng (who is already a student in NUS), I will also insist that Singapore govt limit the intake of Singapore citizens this year (so as to "raise the standard"). Hence, the value of my degree will become more valuable.

Of course, that is at the expense of my fellow Singaporeans! But why should I (or Aaron) care about them!

Shae said...

Mr Wang, you state that in comparison to other years, the rates fluctuated more. Can you provide some facts to back this up?

So far, I have read 2 forum letters: one from a parent lameting the fact that his kid, who scored 4As did not get into the faculty of his choice, another from a parent lameting that his daughter with A, C, D, E, failed to get into NUS.

My memory as to the 2nd letter is a little faulty though, but my impression was that the grades were very mediocre and there was a very imminent danger that those grades would not be enough for the kid to gain admission into NUS. I don't see a problem with this. A, C, D, E are very very mediocre borderline grades and in my opinion, the kid would have been lucky to have been accepted.

In respect of the first letter, was the faculty of choice even identified by the parent? If it had been either medicine or law, it should not be a surprise that even a student with straight As was rejected. It is trite that these 2 faculties reject such students with perfect scores all the time.

I just don't see how the Dragon Year Cohort in NUS is a cohort whereby all the students scored straight As and anyone who did less well was refused entry.

I do agree with Aaron is saying - that standards have to be maintained. It is unfortunate that for this year, due to the unprecedented number of applicants, there will invariably be more people who will be rejected.

Aaron said...

It's hard to refer to anons, but I think the anon I'm responding to will know that it's him/her.

To maintain standards as previous years goes against our policy of meritocracy (and perhaps, by extension, free market). As much as I agree that the practice meritocracy is somewhat flawed (some people have more "merit" than others), I don't think we should further the flaws with protectionist policies.

If this year we say keep the same standard as last year, next year's applicants with the same grade but didn't get in will also pander for the same. So what happens in the end? Standards freeze. Therefore, it is always better to let the free market operate. Of course, the free market is merciless to those at the borderline, but unless we are going to be contented with being stagnant, we don't have a choice.

I'm not being hard-hearted here. Being rejected from something that one truly desires is painful, and I've experienced that myself. However, I firmly believe that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and there are sufficient alternatives in Singapore for one to make their mark. And, like I said in my entry, the door is not closed forever. You can always try again. It's not a death sentence. But people are acting as if it is, and I think that's worrying. How can we compete with the brightest of other countries if a single rejection to university makes one so dejected?

Anonymous said...

Actually, Mr. Wang, you are right, but then you may already know this. Singaporeans of whatever race do tend to be treated better than locals who are not Bumiputera... as they are being courted for business and investments.

rse said...

The whole local/foreign student issue confuses me sometimes. What is the aim of having so many foreign students, actually?

Money? Most of them are subsidized. It's not even a scholarship but the same subsidy locals receive. For opting in, they get a 3 year bond to work anywhere in Singapore.

Standards? Except for the few that came in through JC, they aren't even compared to locals on entry. Also, strange is the idea that these foreign students are necessarily better than local students once they are in.

I come from a course with far more than 50% foreigners. The foreign students are fall on all parts of the curve, just like the locals. They are, overall, pretty much the same as the locals. Some even drop out.

I can conclude that if the idea that foreign students are indeed superior, I must conclude either the locals in my course are really great (The typical local in my course probably has slightly better grades than those in the ST letter) or that the foreigners in my course are substandard. I doubt either, so I believe the first assumption is false.

As an aside, I really prefer the label 'international students' to 'foreign students'.

Who knows what the real reasons are?

Aaron,
I know it is fashionable to claim bumi-ism is killing Malaysia and all that and Malaysians too, love to complain about it but...

Bumiputra-ism isn't even remotely comparable. For one, the cap there is not on international students. For another, the presence of a cap is at best, incidental. Most US universities have a cap on international students and some universities have a cap on students from out of state too! If I claimed NUS would magically become like MIT if we suddenly put a 5% cap on international students, like them, you'd be right if you think it's silly. I don't see how it's different from NUS magically turning into what you imagine the other MIT (Mara Institute of Technology) to be like with a cap.

Secondly, I'm not even sure if you can honestly say that the likes of UM/UKM/UPM/USM are indeed far worse than NUS/NTU, or that UTAR is worse than SMU. Even if they were, could you honestly say that they would be become better without the bumi policy?

If it is about rankings, assuming you take stock in such a thing-- SMU isn't even on the THES list, unlike some of the universities I mentioned.

boon said...

Aaron,

Imagine that you got accepted into a local uni, but decided to defer 1 year to travel. When you re-applied the next year, you realised to your horror that you have been squeezed out by foreign students.

No place for you. How would you feel? Would you still sing the "lowering standards" tune?

Mr Wang Says So said...

"To maintain standards as previous years goes against our policy of meritocracy"

It's a funny thing that happens in Singapore. Key words and catchphrases get bandied around so much that people eventually forget what they mean and why these key words were adopted in the first place.

Why is "meritocracy" a precious principle in Singapore? What was the history behind that? Why did our society develop that way?

To remind yourself, you may want to reread this passage from Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meritocracy

"Among modern nation-states, the Republic of Singapore claims to be a pure meritocracy, placing a great emphasis on identifying and grooming bright young citizens for positions of leadership. The Singaporean interpretation places overwhelming emphasis on academic credentials as objective measures of merit.

Meritocracy is a central political concept in Singapore, due in part to the circumstances surrounding the city-state's rise to independence. Singapore was expelled from neighboring Malaysia in 1965 as a result of the unwillingness of the majority of its population, mostly ethnic Chinese, to accept a "special position" for the self-proclaimed bumiputera (Malay for "inheritors of the earth") Malays. The federal Malaysian government had argued for a system which would give special privileges to the Malays as part of their "birthright" as an "indigenous" people. Political leaders in Singapore vehemently protested against this system, arguing instead for the equality of all citizens of Malaysia, with places in universities, government contracts, political appointments, etc., going to the most deserving candidate, rather than to one chosen on the basis of connections or ethnic background. The ensuing animosity between State and Federal governments eventually proved irreconcilable. Singapore was expelled, and became an independent city-state. To this day, Singapore continues to hold up meritocracy as one of its official guiding principles for domestic public policy formulation."

The whole idea of meritocracy in Singapore was to make sure that the most deserving citizens got the most opportunities. We wanted all citizens to be treated fairly, viz-a-vis other citizens.

Just in case you forgot, Aaron.

Bart JP said...

Hi Mr Wang,

Allow me to share some of my views on this. Of course the state has the responsibility to provide basic education to citizens. It is in the interest of public that a vast majority of citizens are educated.

But we are talking about university places here, not basic education. In the past two decades, university entry has already expanded a lot. Our generation has a greater proportion than graduates than ever before. I think Singaporeans are already well catered for as far as university places are concerned.

Protectionism or affirmative actions often begins with good intentions, ie to help some groups in society. Very soon, interest groups become entrenched. The privileges are almost impossible to remove. Universities that have these policies will not do its students justice. There will be a suspicion that degrees are earned due to affirmative actions, rather than merit.

If we agree to quantity controls, it will lead to further pressure for yet more places to be reserved. It is really a slippery slope to go down.

Regards
Bart.

Mr Wang Says So said...

The Malaysian government tried to give as many of their citizens degrees as possible. The end result was simply that even the truly unqualified got a paper, and basically, degrees in Malaysia are worthless, except for the few more established ones. The very same thing can happen in Singapore if we are not careful.

Oh, even more stupid things can happen in Singapore in Singapore if we are not careful.

For example, instead of giving degrees to as many of our citizens as possible, we can give degrees to as many foreigners as possible.

The end result was simply that even the truly unqualified foreigners get a degree, which is not worth that much

while many Singaporeans simply get no university education at all.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"I think Singaporeans are already well catered for as far as university places are concerned."

Frankly I wouldn't give two hoots, if NUS were a private university.

Right now, it's subsidised by taxpayers money, which means I paying for the education of a big bunch of kids from India, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Bart JP said...

Then it becomes an issue whether our taxpayers money is wasted on these overseas students. It is a different issue from saying places should be reserved for Singaporeans.

Mr Wang Says So said...

No. Every university place taken by a foreigner can be taken by a Singaporean citizen.

As a Singaporean tazpayer, I do not object to my taxes being used to subsidise the educatin of Singapore citizens.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"American schools don't lower their standards, and their citizens compete with the whole world for places in their universities."

American schools also do not use American citizens' taxpayers money to give free education to Singaporeans or other foreigners.

Bart JP said...

Mr Wang,

This citizens criteria is also slippery. If a child from China comes to Singapore and takes up citizenship, are you ok with subsidising him? Is he Singaporean or not by definition? What about Singaporean PRs? What about Singaporeans citizens who get subsidised education and then want to emigrate? Make them cough out their subsidies before we hand the passport back to them?

This subsidies for Singaporeans only is completely reactionary.

Anonymous said...

Aaron, consider the following scenario.

Suppose your parents have a $200K savings and can afford to send only one kid overseas.

Suppose my A-level results is better than yours.

My question is: Should your parents practise your so-called "meritocracy" and send me (and I have no relations whatsoever to your family) overseas for my education instead of you?

My point is simple. We, as fellow Singaporeans, have an obligation to help our own fellow citizens before helping others.

ben said...

I think the whole crux of the problem lies with the difference between absolute and proportion.

If you look at the data, true enough, all 3 universities are accepting increasing number of local students.

However, if I were to cite NUS entry data, 20% of places are "reserved" for foreigners according to a policy advocated by the Minister of Education a few years back.

I'm not too sure whether foreign and local students receive consideration for their university place separately, and most probably they do, since to maintain the "quota", it must not be such a coincidence that every year 20% of foreign students get accepted due to higher grades than local students.

Therefore, the question now must be is 20% too high to reserve our "premier" university for foreigners. In my opinion, it is indeed a bit too high. No locals should be denied an education if he/she wants it. This is basically the principle that "pro-freedom" countries in Europe and USA advocates. In the USA, every state has a university such that all students who qualify for a university education and wants to attend are able to do so. In Europe, for example in Scandinavian countries, students are given free education up to PhD level if they are willing and able to, and on top of that, are given an allowance every month (around 400 euros every month at university level) regardless of where you're studying. Therefore, I'm not advocating a welfare state here, but the point I'm trying to drive across is that education is the basic good that should be made available to everyone who are willing and able to receive one. With the "quota" policy, it will mean that more peasants, i mean people, must fork out more money to go overseas to study or study at SIM, which given that they are peasants, can't simply afford to do so.

Bart JP said...

Look at the problem the other way anon. If only 20 per cent goes to foreigners, it means the foreigners are faced with the quota, not Singaporeans! Foreigners are restricted to 20 per cent only. That might explain why their grades so so good.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

Fully agree with you for castigating Bart JP and Aaron.

Personally, I found found Bart, supposedly PhD candidate quality in Economics, when it comes to making sound arguments not very commensurate with his current status.

As for Aaron, well I supposed he is a young and naive. Let's digest his arguments. First, this is what he says:

"First up, local students do get priority. While there are many foreign students in local universities, if I am not mistaken, local students make up around two-thirds to three-quarters of the student population. Is that not giving priority to local students? Besides, foreign students usually come in through scholarships, meaning that they are, at least most of them, have really good grades. Singaporean students get a much lowered bar in comparison. I’ve seen people with B average or lower for A levels get into local universities. So what’s the basis for the claim that Singaporeans do not get priority?"

Aaron's argument that because the ratio of university is overwhelmingly Singaporean it vindicates his argument. He then went on to point out spurious number of lower grade Singaporean getting entry.

Yet, it seemed the point he seemed to be or is deliberately missing is that Singaporean with qualifying grade are not getting in. So the question, which Aaron, seemed not want to ask is why don't university lower the ratio for non-Singaporean?

After all, if priority is given to Singaporean, then a similarly qualified Singaporean and overseas one applied, the Singaporean one should be chosen. That should have been the argument. And if it means eating into the ratios even to the point of university are completely Singapore so be it.

Here is Aaron's second argument.

And, to ask MOE to set up another university to cater to the Dragon year cohort is seriously ridiculous. Does Ong even know how much it cost to set up a university, make sure it has good curriculum and to ensure that good lecturers are hired?

Now has Aaron forgot about all the buzz about Singapore wanting to be educational hub?

If so why is the cost of building another University an issue?

Here is Aaron's third argument, which he made in his rebuttal to you:

"I am just not for the idea of lowering standards or wasting unnecessary resources for something a problem that the people created themselves."

Here again another simplistic argument. Increase more access standard drops. Now here you see one of those selfish attitude: "I get to go to University now I want to kick the ladder to deprive others of opportunity". This simply to maintain some hypothetical argument about "standards".

Has it not occur to him that if the number of people qualifying to university meets criteria, why should he/she be deprived of a place. Just to meet some "man-made" notion of standards? How hypocritical of someone who had the benefit of a university education to then deprive others, who are probably more deserving, intellectually, then him.

surya said...

Reading this debate I feel a twinge of guilt.

I am one of the foreign students in Singapore. I came on an ASEAN scholarship in secondary school (RI) and studied all the way in Singapore until university. I study in NUS, and Aaron is my cohort. We worked together in the Student's Union.

I remember I applied for NUS Student's Fund Chairpersonship because I was very grateful for the education that Singapore has given me so I wanted to help Singaporeans to cope with the expensive cost of NUS which I had not have to pay. But I did not get the position, and a Singaporean got it. Perhaps because I was already the Chairperson of another body under the Union, which is the environmental society (SAVE).

And this is kind of tangential to the issue, but why were so few Singaporean students interested in environmental activities. I remembered trying my hardest in my three years in the organization to attract Singaporeans to almost no avail.

I would like to add another element to the 'protectionist' component in this debate. I think the old social contract is broken, if we look at human's adverse and irreversible impact to the environment. The nation/state concept needs an overhaul so that we can create a more equitable society.

To the main questions: should citizens get priority for university admission? I would like to answer that only in Singapore is this a very major issue which is not dealt with very well by the powers-that-be. If I ask the same question for my country of origin, Indonesia, I would answer yes. But Singapore is very unique in many aspects, and there is no easy answe r for the question. Mr Wang's answer seems right to me, but Aaron is not wrong too. Perhaps a compromise?

yee sian said...

"If this year we say keep the same standard as last year, next year's applicants with the same grade but didn't get in will also pander for the same. So what happens in the end? Standards freeze. Therefore, it is always better to let the free market operate. Of course, the free market is merciless to those at the borderline, but unless we are going to be contented with being stagnant, we don't have a choice."

There isn't really a freezing of standards. You're allowing more local students who have demonstrated the ability to enter university, by past years standards to be able to do so.

The stagnancy won't be permanent. If the ratio of locals in the universities increase, you'll eventually reach a stage where there's no more international students, and there'll be pressure from local students for local students to perform even better to get a place. You're still allowing free market forces to operate.

"The original letter writer said the government should have built a new university to cater to the Dragon cohort. Do you honestly think that this is efficient use of resources? I think it's a waste to do that. Your example of public transport line is faulty. If it is something that people will use frequently, the investment is justified. However, building a new university, hiring qualified lecturers and coming up with courses for a once every 12 years phenomenon is obviously hard to justify."

This scenario is only occurring because we're unwilling to reduce the number of international students in our local universities. If you're unwilling to reduce the number of international students to accommodate the increase in the number of local students, you should build this additional university to do so.

After all, it is also in the spirit of meritocracy that students who demonstrate the ability to study be given the opportunity to do so. As the writer himself puts it, the extra places offered by the new university can be offered to more foreign students in subsequent years.

If you feel that this additional university is a waste of resources, you should settle for lowering the number of foreign students you take in, to accommodate this occasional surge in the number of local students who are able to enter university.

Talk about pushing the blame onto others - Is it the fault of the people for wanting to give birth during a specific year, or is it the fault of the government for not providing for each and every of these able students a place in a tertiary institution?

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Of course the state has the responsibility to provide basic education to citizens. It is in the interest of public that a vast majority of citizens are educated.

But we are talking about university places here, not basic education."


Sorry, I disagree. We are a 1st world economy and we need a well-educated, highly skilled workforce.

A degree is pretty basic for LOTS of job roles in our economy.

Anonymous said...

bart said "This citizens criteria is also slippery. If a child from China comes to Singapore and takes up citizenship, are you ok with subsidising him? Is he Singaporean or not by definition? What about Singaporean PRs? What about Singaporeans citizens who get subsidised education and then want to emigrate? Make them cough out their subsidies before we hand the passport back to them?"

I think the following analogy answers your question.

Going back my my earlier example, suppose I apply to become your parents' godchild, should I get priority for overseas education funding should my A-level result be better than yours?

What if you parents send you overseas for education and you decided not to take care of them in their old age?

My point is: Singapore govt has cheapen the whole concept of citizenship. They want to take in all the rich working people so that their salary will increase (remember that the formula for their salary is tied *directly* to top earners).

The worst part is that they pretend all these is good for the disadvantaged Singapore citizens.

Aaron said...

I think Bart says it best. Most people here are arguing against how taxpayers' money is being "wasted" on foreign students, which is totally different from the quota issue Mr Wang talks about. If we cannot even differentiate the two issues, there isn't anything else more to talk about.

For the record, I agree that the subsidies part have to be re-looked. I don't think any other country subsidies foreign students as much as Singapore does. However, I disagree that we should have quotas capping the number of foreign students. Why should we stop those who can pay from coming?
Lastly, places have already been increased at all the various local universities for the Dragon year cohort. I believe that an equitable compromise has been struck between quality and quantity. There is no need for a brand new university that might end up being a "second-tier" university in future.

Bart JP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bart JP said...

Mr Wang,

This economy needs more people who are creative, have differentiated skills, and knows how to differentiate themselves to create an economic advantage. When every one rushes in to have a cookie cutter degree, it might not be such a good thing.

Like I mentioned before, if there is any suspicion that degrees are earned through affirmative actions (like Mr Ong suggested) rather than merit, then your point becomes moot. Employers will suspect that even those with degrees are of low quality. Even those with real talent who went to the university will be tainted by association. There is this famous Spencer education signalling model in economics. You should read about it.

Anonymous said...

Surya,

If I were a poor Singaporean and your Indonesian parents decided to fund my education instead of yours, I can promise you that I will also be really grateful to them.

Furthermore, I will also be happy to serve as the Chairperson of your family's Trust Fund, etc.

I mean it.

But unlike you, I will not be surprised if you (or your siblings) are unhappy with your parents' decision.

Prav said...

I think before we go further, it might be a good idea to pause and think about the purpose of a Uni education. And this speech by Andrew Abbott of the University of Chicago pretty much says it all.

It'll be helpful I think, if we stop looking at University education simply as a commodity or a resource that is to be allocated under whatever market principles we subscribe to. To be sure, it is that; but it is also far far more.

https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=4405345292513335071&postID=8972543298095814888

prav said...

sry...here it is

http://magazine.uchicago.edu/0310/features/zen.shtml

Anonymous said...

http://magazine.uchicago.edu/0310/features/zen.shtml

Mr Wang Says So said...

"If a child from China comes to Singapore and takes up citizenship, are you ok with subsidising him? Is he Singaporean or not by definition? What about Singaporean PRs? What about Singaporeans citizens who get subsidised education and then want to emigrate? Make them cough out their subsidies before we hand the passport back to them?"

Your argument reminds of those who say that homosexuality must continue to be criminalised in Singapore, because otherwise gays will get married, adopt kids, cause the population to decline and eventually lead to the extinction of the human race.

ben said...

basically everyone who has left a comment here is arguing for how much trade-off must we allow between equity and a university education for our local students and a market-based outcome where university admission should be based on merit, to those who are willing and able to pay.

This is an ontology problem which can't be resolved, since it involves your own individual opinion and is inherently normative in nature.

However, I would still like to point out certain issues.

Firstly, aaron mentioned "why should we stop those who can pay for coming?". If you believe in the strength of the free market to achieve equilibrium, we should definitely follow aaron's advice. However, what about those people sacrificed under the free market system. People who are poor, and can't go overseas to study or have to take up a HUGE loan to do so, but is sacrificed due to this additional influx of people coming and taking up their place in the university, which they would otherwise have gotten a place in.

Secondly, bart mentioned that if we adjust the market for more equity, our merit-based system will collapse and the degree will be devalued. There are inherently certain flaws here. A degree will still be based on merit, but merit based on competition between local students(and maybe some foreigners), but not as much as limiting 80% of the places to local students. This involves a simple ontological position that I hold, a position that our local students are competitive enough such that the degree would not be devalued. How often have we argued for more places for poly students in university? If competition is tough locally, why add in more competition while sacrificing the opportunity of some local students?

Mr Wang Says So said...

"This economy needs more people who are creative, have differentiated skills, and knows how to differentiate themselves to create an economic advantage. When every one rushes in to have a cookie cutter degree, it might not be such a good thing."

Oh, marvellous.

Instead of suggesting how Singaporeans can differentiate themselves by pursuing different courses in universities, gain expertise in niche areas etc

you suggest that they differentiate themselves by not going to university.

Bart JP said...

Mr Wang,

Don't create smoke by talking about homosexuality.

Bart JP said...

Indeed, Mr Wang, that is what I said. With affirmative action, degrees earned from the university will be tainted. Particularly if you are a Singaporean, there will be a suspicion that you got a degree only because some places are reserved for you, or the university got to meet a quota to produce. In that case, the truly smart people will siam the university.

yh said...

I think foreign students are attractive to our universities solely for ranking purposes. Think proportion of foreign students is a criteria for the one uni ranking on which we do well. Since we cannot compete on research output and quality of faculty, we have to rely on having a big foreign contingent. totally pointless.

On the other hand, I think providing education for the brightest kids of our less wealthy neighbours is a good idea. An indirect way to help these countries out of poverty; we cannot wish to remain prosperous in a poor and unstable region.

Anonymous said...

I see your point Aaron & Bart JP... as long as foreigners is competitive, they SHOULD have access to taxpayers funded university places. As for the locals, if they can't compete with the talented foreigners, places SHOULD rightly go to the foreigners isn't it. Why not admit only the brightest so that one day NTU or NUS can be MIT / Harvard ? I think that is possible as the brightest China National/Indians can be pretty smart and will edge out most locals anyway. Cheez, I think we make really good PAP candidates.

Anonymous said...

Several obvious points to be raised here:

1. What is the proportion of foreign students here being subsidized by the Singapore government, i.e., the Singaporean taxpayers?

2. How can the standard of the universities drop just because more qualifed citizens with the requisite grades are entering?

3. If more local students are deserving of a place, based on an international exam, why not let them in and take in less foreigners who are using OUR money to study here?

4. "Affirmative" action means that some other citizens are deprived of places because of race. What is happening here is that our own citizens are not getting in, because of a reverse "affirmative" action where they have been reserved for foreigners.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Do you know what is "affirmative action"? Educate yourself.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Affirmative_action

Or are you saying that Singaporean citizens in their own country have already become:

a "historical socio-politicallly non-dominant group"

or

a "socio-politically disadvantaged group"

relative to foreigners?

That Singaporean citizens, in their own country, are like the black people in the US, just after slavery was abolished?

That Singaporean citizens, in their own country, are like the handicapped, physically disabled people in Finland?

That Singapore citizens, in their own country, are like the aboriginals in Canada, after the white settlers came, murdered their women and children, and took over the land?

That the discussion now, is really about whether Singaporeans, like the US ex-slaves, the Finnish disabled, the displaced aboriginals ....

... should be the beneficiaries of affirmative action?

Bart JP said...

Ok Mr Wang, you choose to be pedantic now and try to put words into my mouth. Tell you what. If you are uncomfortable with the word "affirmative action", change it to "positive discrimination" for Singaporeans. Every thing I said will still stand.

Regards

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Positive discrimination for Singaporeans"?!

Where? Where? Are there great quantities of bond-free scholarships being given out to Singaporeans, covering housing allowances, tuition fees, book allowances?

I thought these were only for foreigners?

Mr Wang Says So said...

Oooooh! I see your point. There is positive discrimination in favour of Singaporeans, BECAUSE after they get their university place, they are ALLOWED to defer studies for two years while they serve their NATIONAL SERVICE!

How good we are, to our citizens! Foreigners will never be given such privileges!

Anonymous said...

Bart JP wrote about "Positive discrimination" ? Who are you kidding? Yourself ?

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Ok Mr Wang, you choose to be pedantic now and try to put words into my mouth."

Ooooh! I put your words in your mouth. You used the words "affirmative action" and then you say I put the words in your mouth!

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Employers will suspect that even those with degrees are of low quality. Even those with real talent who went to the university will be tainted by association."

I see! We shall limit our university places, and deprive many Singaporeans of higher education, so that those who DO get it will look BETTER.

Anonymous said...

Bart JP said...
"This economy needs more people who are creative, have differentiated skills, and knows how to differentiate themselves to create an economic advantage. When every one rushes in to have a cookie cutter degree, it might not be such a good thing."

The question I will like to ask : Since the gov control every aspect of our life, controlling media this and that, I really wonder how creative and differentiated can Singaporean be ? When foreigner come here because they have what we lack perhaps in term of creativity and differentiation, what exactly is the chances that they do not eventually conform to the like-minds here when they realize the authorian state of Gov ruling ?

I'm pretty sure those foreigner that the gov came to worship about and talk about did not impact the society as a whole positively, but rather just create an image that foreigner help in building of nation. Why I say that ? Did any of those foreigner who came here contributed to major impact of Singaporean social and cultural life positively ?

The answer is unbelieveable no. Just take a look at newspaper everyday, who the greatest impact of them all. Not surprising, it is the gov, gov and gov. So why we still insist that foreigner who came here want to contribute to our society even though it is not their motherland ? We are just simply kidding ourselves and gov continue to brainwash us into thinking it is globalization problem where in fact it is a state of clueless governing.

Why talk about foreigner's wonderful talent if they did not put those talent to work for good of Singapore but only for gov's economic value.

Our gov love to put on good show everytime. They encourage foreigner here just to make the society look diverse and vibrant. But a show is still a show, and at end of day, when curtain is closed, we realize the thing done by gov is simply smokescreen. The gov is just as clueless and pretending to know it all.

Don't believe it ? Then why the gov suddenly stop subsidise foreigner so much for education studies ? Just because Singaporean complain ?

A gov that open floodgate to foreigners and just tell public that it is good for the nation, and suddenly when foreigners flood and create issue, try to penalise both foreigner and Singaporean can tell you what kind of gov we have.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"When every one rushes in to have a cookie cutter degree, it might not be such a good thing."

In case you didn't notice, the local universities will be handing out the same degrees regardless of how many Singaporeans or non-Singaporeans study for it.

A law degree will still be a law degree,

a science degree will still be a science degree,

an engineering degree will still be an engineering degree,

no degree will become a cookie cutter degree because of the nationality of the student who takes the course

oh, and one more thing which you forgot -

any university student who doesn't pass his exams will simply not get a degree

so let's not have all that nonsense about the devaluation of local degrees just because Singaporeans are admitted.

yh said...

'I see! We shall limit our university places, and deprive many Singaporeans of higher education, so that those who DO get it will look BETTER.'

I will not be surprised if that is the real reason why places in law and medical school are forever at a premium DESPITE a shortage of lawyers and doctors.

Anonymous said...

Foreign students who come here are just opportunists. Period. A place in a university (likely better ranked than their own country), plus spending money and NO NS! Don't say 20%, even 2000% can be filled. I cannot agree with this policy. 1 more foreign student (not even counting the allowances that comes from my TAX MONEY) is 1 less Citizen! Anyway you look at it. Will you finance a stranger instead of your own child? You dont need to be creative to think about it.

bypasser-A said...

egos at work.
citizens shld get priority because we pledge 'we, the CITIZENS of...'

JC said...

From the Policymakers standpoint
- foreign residents (FR) promote diversity
- FRs help short-circuit the 20 year gestation cycle
- FRs alleviate an aging population
- with FRs you can pick and choose
- you can refresh FRs every few year (new blood)
- FRs have a choice, so we must make it attractive for them to be here
- FRs help 'raise' standards
- world class FRs help score world class goals

From the Singaporean (huh, what's that?) standpoint
- I should come first because of my birthright
- Why are my taxes used to subsidise a foreign student?
- I have kids (oops) which I wish to send to Uni

Frankly, if the likes of Wee Shu Min or BartJP is representative of the DNA that runs in the brain of Singapore, I would have to concede with that Singaporeans (huh, what's that?) will become a socio-political minority.

Singapore is an artificial construct. Singaporeans (huh, what's that?) should bear that in mind when alluding to notions of nationhood.

blurry said...

For bart:

1) I think Singaporeans are already well catered for as far as university places are concerned.

Comment: I dont think so. If yes, there wouldnt be hordes of students going to Melbourne or signing up for UNSW locally.
Anyway how is your "I think" justified?

2) Universities that have these policies will not do its students justice. There will be a suspicion that degrees are earned due to affirmative actions, rather than merit.

Comment: Never heard of universities giving out degrees the easy way. Probably a couple can be bought overseas. And no, no one suspected SG degrees are lessly earned.

3) If we agree to quantity controls, it will lead to further pressure for yet more places to be reserved. It is really a slippery slope to go down.

Comment: No one is reserving places. SG students get in on own merit. Just because the dragons are here, doesnt mean they dont get a university place and become a worm.

Anonymous said...

"Singapore is an artificial construct. Singaporeans (huh, what's that?) should bear that in mind when alluding to notions of nationhood."

while the previous part of your comment looks erm... haha, i'm particularly interested in this sentence.

The fundamental issue with this UNI thing along with others, is summarised by:

What is Singapore?


Pink IC?
An economy?
Physical location?


Are we sacrificing too much of "Singaporean" to attain other social/economical goals?

Bart JP said...

Mr Wang and All,

Can't possibly respond to every commment. I would just reiterate my point.

First, let's separate the issue of scholarships for foreign students and reserving university places for Singaporeans. The former is about whether it is beneficial for us or simply wasteful of taxpayers money. The latter is about whether we should institutionalise positive discrimination (for want of a better term) for Singaporeans (however defined).

Like I said, university access has already expanded greatly for Singaporeans over the past 2 decades. We have a high proportion of graduates (around 25% of each cohort if I am not wrong). I can hardly imagine a situation where further expansion of university access will not diminish the average quality of intake. Sure, some As students may not get the course of their choice, but remember, A level grades have been inflated a lot over the past decade.

If the current level of access is still not good enough, and we choose to impose further quantity controls by reserving places for Singaporeans, it is the beginning of the slippery slope towards protectionism for Singaporeans. Where does one stop?

The end result is that the market will begin to discount the degrees of local university graduates, inferencing that a significant proportion of them earned their degrees only because of the institutionalised protectionism. What happens next? Eager parents will fork out even more money to send their kids overseas, even if they have local access.

Why? Because they will need to separate themselves from the local graduates, whose degrees will be under a cloud of suspicion that they are not nearly good enough. Who lose? Singaporeans in the end.

I understand that this is an emotional issue, but I hope at least some of you can see my point. That is probably my last word on this blog regarding this issue.

Regards

amatu said...

This issue certainly brought question to the education standard of singapore universities and the understanding of basic rights as a singapore citizen.

It seems that both, aaron and bart, are being protectionist themselves, creating a niche for the fields they are in. So it seems, most probably, selfishness at play here with their articles.

One most impt issue out of this, is that a fellow singaporean impliedly think that his fellow citizen incapable to raise the standard. This is definitely disheartening and indeed, both of them have raise the competitive of kiasuism towards higher education.

Dr Oz bloke said...

Interesting discussion.

I think that MOE/NUS/NTU/government is moving towards taking on the view that the cohort to be considered for Unversity places is actually ANYONE who applies for a place in NUS regardless of nationality.

That is what I see happening. I don't know if Bart and Aaron see it that way.

I think that the way Singaporeans view this change in MOE's approach depends on how they look at themselves.

Those who would feel that they are world class, and worthy of global competition would approve of it. After all what is there to fear from fellow world beaters from other countries? Nothing is going to stop me from getting a place in NUS.

Another group might feel more humble and think that though they are smart, they are NOT world beaters and hence if Singapore were to open her doors to all the brilliant students from China and India, then they would not stand a chance despite being Singaporean and applying for a place in a tertiary institute in their own country.

The way I see it, Singapore's priority is in ensuring the country's progress and the country's survival. The citizens of Singapore are secondary.

Once you start accepting the above as the predominant strategy of the Singapore government, you will be able to accept the policies they come up with.

Ask nothing about what your country can do for you. If you want something, you will have to fight for it.

Personally I would have thought that being a citizen comes with certain responsibilities to the nation eg national service, loyalty, taxes, etc. However the government seems to say that we should expect nothing in return. In fact the expectation of nothing in return is "good" for the country and thus "good" for me.

I am not eloquent enough to express what I feel. But I do know that I have given up thinking so much about what Singaporeans should have, and how Singapore should care for Singaporeans etc. It's every man for himself.

As long as the PAP is in power, their form of capitalism and meritocracy will be the order of the day. After all the majority want it this way.

Isn't that right?

Prav said...

Should citizens get priority for university admission? Yes, but the foreign students that we admit should be no less deserving than those local students who are unsuccessful in their applications.

Why? Because unlike many other popular university destinations like the US, the UK or Australia, Singapore only has 3 universities and given that Singaporeans pay taxes which support these institutions and make various other sacrifices like national service, they should not be expected to look elsewhere for a university education if under normal circumstances they would qualify for it here in Singapore.

This is not as you say, affirmative action or positive discrimination because those who do not make it are no more deserving than the foreigners who take their places.

That being said, we should never be averse to admitting foreigners to our universities bcos - and I think we can all agree on this - diversity/plurality of perspectives is sine qua non for good scholarship (i.e. academic work).

Finally - and this is a drum i've been beating ad nauseam - university education should not be reduced to the level of allocating resources even if scarcity is an issue. University education is abt the development of the mind. And we should, within the constraints of finitude, allow as many of our citizens as possible to develop their minds and like so their capabilities to their fullest extent. In which case, the 'dilution of the value of degrees' argument should not figure. It is a pragmatic argument wrought out of purely instrumental/economic rationality whereas the education of the citizen has as well, political consequences.

Prav said...

and when i say political consequences i mean a better informed and more engaged citizenry.

Look at all you university educated people - Wang, Aaron and (I'm assuming) Bart. How clearly you are able to think your way thru issues and express yourselves. Surely you'd want that for more of your fellow citizens as well?

And when more pple participate in the public, we can deepen our actually existing democracy and make sure there are things like accountability, checks and balances. We don't have this now because not enough people bother to ask qns. They bother to ask qns bcos they lack an exposure to politics that usually comes at the university level.

Dr Oz bloke said...

hi prav,

I get the distinct impression from Bart and Aaron and the government, that almost ALL the foreign students applying for a place in our local universities are already better than our local students (excluding themselves of course)

The usual, "Oh the foreign talents are brilliant! The locals are morons!" kind of view.

Anyway to set the record straight I am not putting words into anyone's mouth. This is just the impression that I get.

But if you think about it, what's the population of China and India combined? Let's say that 0.1% of their student population had an IQ of > 250 and had straight A's and were brilliant. Wouldn't that number already fill all the places in our universities?

What are we waiting for? Let's just admit all these brilliant foreigners into our universities, offer them jobs after graduation, offer them PRs and citizenship soon after. Why bother about locals "who are not good enough?"

I think what MOE is trying to say is BE THANKFUL they haven't done that yet.

Don't complain, instead be thankful with what you have now before it might be slowly taken away from you.

Homer CM said...

Bart JP said "... First, let's separate the issue of scholarships for foreign students and reserving university places for Singaporeans..."

SEPARATE ISSUES? I think you should know that there exist a word called INTERLINK - and it is more appropriate for use in analysing issues related to Singaporeans.

Homer

Prav said...

well ok....let me put something out and we'll take it from there.

1)there should be quota for foreign students. but this is still in keeping with wat i said earlier i.e. that those foreigners we accept are no more deserving than the locals who are left out.

2)increase the number of overseas bond free scholarships available for locals. this frees up space in the local unis by shipping off the best of our best to foreign unis. bond free so that our civil service will not only be populated by a scholar class.

perhaps the only caveat of the scholarship should be that they return to work in singapore for a period of time upon completion of their studies. in that sense, bond free means free from being bonded to the public sector.

comments?

lau min-tsek said...

Qn 1:

If the Singapore education system is so good, and our universities are ranked highly (they aren't ranked too badly, lah)......

...... why do we have to pay foreigeners to come here to study? Why can't they pay full fees? Why do we need to offer them scholarships?

Qn 2:

Oh.... the scholarships are bonded.....

So........

....... if our country is ranked so highly in so many surveys for quality of life, for preferred place of living and working for expats, for being one of the world's most livable cities, per capital GDP, yada yada yada yada ........

.......AND....... we have a talent shortage in many sectors of our economy, salary is increasing, economy is booming blah blah blah blah ........

..........why do we need to bond foreigners for three years after they finished studying? Shouldn't they be climbing over themselves to line up in Singapore Immigration to get an Employment Pass?

Duh!

Anonymous said...

From an economics point of view, a university should match the demands of a skilled workforce with a supply a students capable of completing the course. This is a matter of allocating resources effeciently. For every student with the potential to graduate with a degree but is not given an opportunity to do so, this opportunity cost is paid.

Furthermore if the places go to foreign students at the expense of capable Singaporean citizens, the additonal costs of subsidising the foreign students' fees is paid. This is regardless if the foreign student stays to complete his or her bond. Taxpayer's money still goes towards paying for the foreigner's sch fees.

So the important question is: ARE THERE SINGAPOREANS WHO ARE CAPABLE OF COMPLETING A DEGREE DEPRIVED OF A CHANCE TO DO SO?

Besides, i find it amazing that some singaporeans go to the extent of suggesting that having more singapore degree holders would devalue his degree.

What are the honours awards for? How about the degrees held by the foreigners?

Not to say that i'm xenophobic, but some people really can't think well. No wonder kena screwed by ur masters and still none the wiser.

Anonymous said...

This is what the so-call PhD candidate, Bart wrote:
"This economy needs more people who are creative, have differentiated skills, and knows how to differentiate themselves to create an economic advantage. When every one rushes in to have a cookie cutter degree, it might not be such a good thing."

This is Mr Wang's response:

Oh, marvellous.

Instead of suggesting how Singaporeans can differentiate themselves by pursuing different courses in universities, gain expertise in niche areas etc

you suggest that they differentiate themselves by not going to university.


Bravo Mr Wang. It was a point I wanted to make but you got in first. Bart's type of logic seemed to suggest he is a product of cookie cutter university!

Anyway, personality comment aside. This obsession with University degree (i.e. the paper that you carry not the education that you received) and how well a university that you go to is perceived. Seemed so much a Singaporean obsession.

Here is the crux of the problem. The arguments put forth by people like Bart and Aaron, despite their attempt to twist away by suggesting that it is all about subsidies just don't wash. It seemed they are more concern that more of their fellow citizens might be getting degrees thus eroding their supposed elite status, in the name of some nebulous concept like "standards".

I don't need to reiterate the arguments made by Mr Wang, which in my opinion demonstrate not only compassion but also real intellects!

Bravo Mr Wang keep up the good work!

lau min-tsek said...

"When every one rushes in to have a cookie cutter degree, it might not be such a good thing."

Not good? In what way?

One, it is only a cookie cutter if everyone automatically passes or given an A without even trying.

Standards don't have to drop with a larger student population.


Two, this statement smacks of elitism. Degree = prestigue. So more people have degress = dilution of the prestigue.

This reminds me of the practice that government scholarship holders deserves more in the civil service and the SAF for no reason that they have proven their worth by doing well in their studies.


Three, a degree is really a basic requirement for many types of work. It should not be seen as the ultimate measurement of what a person can acheive.

It just gives you a toehold in many industries. What happens to you is not the degree you earned. It is what you do after that is important.

Ask Bill Gates. Oops! He never got a degree to begin with!

Ned Stark said...

I believe that Singapore should not close the doors to foreigners. In fact by all means let them compete for entry and then compete with Singaporeans. What i am concerned is, as per what Mr Wang said, the fact that the government is making things easier for them, removing the financial barriers and other barriers one would face if one were to be studying overseas. That is a cause of concern.

Bart JP said...

Dear all,

I have already said enough on this site. Do go to my blog if you are still keen on the discussion, I will try to clarify my views as best as I can. Thanks.

lau min-tsek said...

"Standards don't have to drop with a larger student population. "

I wrote that and after I reread that, I realise I made an error in perception.

There are essentially 2 perceptions of "standards" in a university.

One is the type of students you attract. If you have a small number of places available, you get more competition, and you get more students with higher grades in the U. The University would then turn around and say, "Hey, look! Look at all these high quality students we have attracted! We have arrived".

Another way of looking at standards is the good old fashion assessment of what the University actually teaches, and how. And, of course, what is the outcome of the students. How many passes and distinctions, how many people can get employment, how many people actually learn something........ in other words, if a University has high standards depending on outcome, the U can say, "Hey, look at all these mini Einsteins that we produce! We have arrived!"

One looks at input (determined by the students), one looks at output (determined by the quality of teaching of the University).

Of course, the reality is somewhere in the middle.

When we keep talking about "standards", do bear in mind that it is the output that is important. Not the input.

I do know that there are many who disagree with this. They are the ones who say higher grade students will lead to higher "standards" and GPAs. They say "standards" are determined by the ability to attract higher grade students. And they may be right.

But I feel that there is nothing wrong with having more places in the universities, or even accepting more lower grade students in place of higher grade foreigners.

What happens to the "standard" and the students depends on how the university teaches them, AFTER they have enrolled. Not before they enrolled.

Dr Oz bloke said...

"What i am concerned is, as per what Mr Wang said, the fact that the government is making things easier for them, removing the financial barriers and other barriers one would face if one were to be studying overseas. That is a cause of concern."

Hi ned stark, perhaps what is even more worrying is the rationale behind those actions.

Does this mean that the government doesn't think too highly of Singaporeans? That the foreigners are better "options" than Singaporeans?

Message seems to be "Foreigners in cos they are better and more valuable. Singaporeans? Leave them be. Survival of the fittest. The weak will be weeded out, the strong will prevail."

Sounds like a pragmatic approach if one views the priority as survival of the placeand economy called Singapore and nothing about the people of Singapore.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

When you read Bart's earlier view he seemed to give the impression that he is all for the free market. When you read his earlier respond this what he says:

Protectionism or affirmative actions often begins with good intentions, ie to help some groups in society. Very soon, interest groups become entrenched. The privileges are almost impossible to remove. Universities that have these policies will not do its students justice. There will be a suspicion that degrees are earned due to affirmative actions, rather than merit.

Yet when you read his later respond, and here is on:

Like I said, university access has already expanded greatly for Singaporeans over the past 2 decades. We have a high proportion of graduates (around 25% of each cohort if I am not wrong). I can hardly imagine a situation where further expansion of university access will not diminish the average quality of intake. Sure, some As students may not get the course of their choice, but remember, A level grades have been inflated a lot over the past decade.

If he is such a believer then why should there be some artificial limit on the expansion of university?

Why not just let the university expands and leave the institution themselves to build their own reputation. After all this isn't this free market? If people choose to go to the university, knowing what that would entail so be it. Again free market.

Also how does he know that A level grade have been inflated? This kind of comment sounds more like "my generation" is better than younger one.

I went to University of Singapore (not NUS) and then there was only one university. I got only two As and lots of Bs but I got my Maths degree. At my time, it was rare for people to get degree. Now more of my younger compatriots are getting degrees. Even I am NOT so arrogant to suggest that because there were so few of my generation gets degree, that my generations have higher standard than the younger ones.

I am sure the Barts and Arrons are going to say. Look employers are complaining about the quality of younger graduates are falling!

Yeah, frankly, I have heard that before. My father, who before WWII got a degree at Cambridge. For his generation, it was even rarer, was already complaining about my generation's educational standard was lower than his. So, you see all this complain about falling standard is about prejudice. Largely elitist mentality.

I later got my MSc in a "lower" grade University, LSE, and that was through hard work. I always point out to my Dad that he did not even work for his Cambridge MA. All he did was to pay GBP50 and his BA become an MA just like that.

In case people don't know Cambridge graduate don't have to study for an MA. They only need to have a BA for more than 6 months, pay an administration fees, and then get an MA.

Also in Cambridge virtually all degree programmes are not accredited by external bodies. Yet, people still flock to Cambridge! Does Cambridge care, for example, if their BA/MA in computing is not accredited by BCS, or mechanical engineering is accredited by IMachE?

Anonymous said...

As an SMU students, I would just like to share my experiences.

Not ALL foreign students that are qualified to study in Singapore universities are necessarily THAT good, or even comparable to the average JC student.

Over here, it's actually quite common to see foreigners that are totally inept, totally uncommited, and worse, here by the fact that their family back home are insanely rich. It's very very frustrating to work with these buggers with absolutely lousy attitudes, and they are not a small group.

What's worse, they are denying a place of more worthy and deserving Singapore students, and they are benefitting from the Government's tuition grant. It's quite outrageous.

John F KNN said...

Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do to your country, if it is not going the way is should be.

Ask not what your govt can do for you. Ask what you can do to your govt, if it is not doing the things it should do for you.

Anonymous said...

cont'd

in fact, I can't help but feel that the reason why these inept students are accepted is because so that the university can fill up the 20% quota. So, in contrast to bart's pt, the 80% 'quota' for singaporeans is not there to help us, but rather, it has wrongfully limit and denying the well-being of Singapore students.

Bart's point follows the assumption that there are many many brilliant foreigners out there that want to come here, such that reserved places of foreign students are over-suscribed. But it's simply not true.

by-passer-A said...

This is not an issue which one can use economic-driven theory to view, model and extrapolate the pros and cons and what-so-ever-in-the-future.

All said and done. Its about giving deserving pple (esp. Singaporeans) a bite at the cherry and a window to learn/grow into educated and not-myopic individuals.

Elaborate theories about devaluation of degree etc clouds the mind.
I prefer to use heartfelt logical simplicity to look at this.

Feel the ground, kick the tyres and you will see lots of Singaporean children doing their utmost in learning, pressure cooker or otherwise.

Smell the roses and not the price of a bouquet.

Anonymous said...

Gov seem very much love to kiss the ass of foreigner and idolize them ! Don't you know why ? The answer is because gov is running Singapore Inc, where the foreigners are considered Profit Centre, and Singaporean are considered Cost Centre. Moreover, most of the cronies graduated from overseas.

Heyting said...

anonymous wrote:
"In case people don't know Cambridge graduate don't have to study for an MA. They only need to have a BA for more than 6 months, pay an administration fees, and then get an MA."

A minor point: the Cambridge MA is an honorary degree, and I'd expect most employers would be aware of this. The true equivalents of an MA elsewhere would be the MPhil, MEng, CASM, etc.

Anonymous said...

After hearing from an elite (Bart) and a wannabe elite (Aaron), I am furious that my taxpayers money is wasted on these idiots. They are telling us that our hard earned money which are paid to the taxes of the state are wasted on foreigners and not our kids.

These kids have no sense of loyalty to the country.

jonathan said...

blah. seriously, the only reason mr wang is getting so much support here is that his is a populist stand. a great way to win people over if you ask thaksin. there're so many self-centred, protectionist singaporeans here that it stinks

Anonymous said...

As a citizen, I feel so cheated that my money is wasted on this gahmen elite scholar who tell me that my kid with a A, B and E are not allowed to go to university. I spit on this elite scholar who is supposed to serve me.

Yeah, don't you know that an FT indian in an IB always hire an indian and a FT chinese always hire a chinese? But a Singaporean will never do that. That's why we are such losers.

Anonymous said...

To Ben's comments:

"...In Europe, for example in Scandinavian countries, students are given free education up to PhD level if they are willing and able to, and on top of that, are given an allowance every month (around 400 euros every month at university level) regardless of where you're studying."

In Germany free education at university level ceased since this year. Students are required to pay an average of about 500euros (SGD$1100)per semester plus a seperate fee for taking the exams (this could amount to an additional 150euro (SGD$350).

The government gives every child who is not working 300euros monthly but his is not for the purpose of studying. It is called Kindergeld which every child gets till they are 18 or has not started working full-time (depening on which one comes 1st).

I'm not too sure if the 400euro monthly allowance which you were referring in which Scandinavian countries are giving out is for the study purpose. More likely it is for the "Kindergeld" purpose as i mentioned in my earlier paragraph.

Let's not confuse the readers here.

FrauP.

jonathan said...

"As a citizen, I feel so cheated that my money is wasted on this gahmen elite scholar who tell me that my kid with a A, B and E are not allowed to go to university. I spit on this elite scholar who is supposed to serve me."

oh give me a break. another pointless and mindless rant blaming that generic "elite scholar". just shut up or find a better, i mean, an actual argument. you think you sound so smart blaming it on scholars. not that scholars don't make mistakes, but they make convenient scapegoat don't they?

Anonymous said...

Jonathon,

Why? You are defending your fellow scholar. You must be one of those people who we wasted our money is, or you may be one of the PAPanon running around Mr Wang's blog to post counter insurgency comments.

The citizen has the right to a local university place because we work to pay taxes for our kids. If the local unis are not paid by my tax money, they can create whatever scholarships they need for those useless FT. So, if you want to agree with Bart that these two issues are not linked, then you must be smoking crack.

JC said...

"Sounds like a pragmatic approach if one views the priority as survival of the place and economy called Singapore and nothing about the people of Singapore."

Would there be Singaporeans without a Singapore?

Singapore is an artificial construct and the cash burn is hideous. It has to justify its place in the global economy, produce something in exchange for rice from Thailand, natural gas from Indonesia, milk from Oz, etc.

What is the mainstay industry here?
Manufacturing? China china china....
Education?
Oil? Last I heard, a pipeline is being built somewhere
Finance?

i.e. The economic survival of Singapore, the only reason that justifies its continued existence, is constantly under threat.

So long as Singapore persists in the survival mode, intangibles such as nationhood or identity are at best, abstract constructs.

While I hate to sound so 'pro-establishment', its a path that I've found myself ending up many times when I try to figure out the why, what and how.

Put yourselves in the shoes of the policymakers.
What would you have done?

That said, a thorn with policymakers is their EQ and a seeming inability to address the emotive needs of people. It's akin to a man proposing 'My IQ is xxx, my assets are $xxxK, the maths add up, so marry me.'

Anonymous said...

What is the big fuss here?????

1. How many times have we heard people say this: "Since the gov control every aspect of our life...blah blah blah." The government can control your life only if YOU allow them to.

2. This whole debate has come to this stage because to begin with, NUS/NTU isnt really that 'world class' to be attractive to the extent that potential students would fork out $$ to study there. If both universities are THAT good, there would be a queue of paying applicants clamouring to get a place there. Hence, the reason why scholarships are being given out to foreign students.

Period.

FrauP.

jonathan said...

"Jonathon,

Why? You are defending your fellow scholar. You must be one of those people who we wasted our money is, or you may be one of the PAPanon running around Mr Wang's blog to post counter insurgency comments.

The citizen has the right to a local university place because we work to pay taxes for our kids. If the local unis are not paid by my tax money, they can create whatever scholarships they need for those useless FT. So, if you want to agree with Bart that these two issues are not linked, then you must be smoking crack."

I defend my fellow scholars? Hell, I said they're not perfect, and I definitely think they cock up a lot. But I'm just saying it's super convenient to lay the blame on this generic punching bag of a scholar without taking time to look into the issue. that's what many singaporeans do. Say "shit, we wasted money on these elite scholars", and then stop there and think they sound so smart. it's getting very old and I'm tired of it.

Singaporeans definitely have a right to the local government funded universities. But I feel that this issue has been blown all out of proportion this year because of a few sour grapes in the ST forum. Nobody's gonna be happy until everyone's kid gets a place in the university of their choice, and that's an impossible thing to achieve. In any case, most of the discontent comes from people who did not get a particular COURSE, or a particular UNI. I daresay there are still viable but less-appealing alternatives which many refuse to take up.

The government is obliged to provide everyone with an education, but where do we stop? It's not obliged to give everyone a place in med/law just because people want it.

Anonymous said...

Jonathan,

Wats wrong with "taking a populist stand" ? If it is wrong, then the PAP shouldnt be promising the upgrading flats and giving out money b4 each election. Pple want uni education for their kids just like they want upgrading and money. Wrong meh?

jonathan said...

"Jonathan,

Wats wrong with "taking a populist stand" ? If it is wrong, then the PAP shouldnt be promising the upgrading flats and giving out money b4 each election. Pple want uni education for their kids just like they want upgrading and money. Wrong meh? "

Therein lies the unfortunate human nature to make huge assumptions. I never said it's wrong to take a populist stand - if that stand if the right one, then hell, take a hotdog stand with it. I'm just remarking how people flock to the person advocating their own wishes and articulating these demands for them in ways they can't. it's easy to get support by being a populist, but the populist stand is not always the right one.

and please don't accuse me of bad judgment when i've passed none.

Anonymous said...

"I defend my fellow scholars? Hell, I said they're not perfect, and I definitely think they cock up a lot. But I'm just saying it's super convenient to lay the blame on this generic punching bag of a scholar without taking time to look into the issue. that's what many singaporeans do. Say "shit, we wasted money on these elite scholars", and then stop there and think they sound so smart. it's getting very old and I'm tired of it."

If you are tired of it, you can go and break bond. This is the kind of integrity of most scholars. If you are a gahmen, drill in your head, you are to serve the people who pay for you.They should just send you to NUS/NTU/SMU instead of wasting my money to pay your damn overseas education.

Young people these days don't know the word "loyalty".

Anonymous said...

heything wrote

A minor point: the Cambridge MA is an honorary degree, and I'd expect most employers would be aware of this. The true equivalents of an MA elsewhere would be the MPhil, MEng, CASM, etc.

MPhil, MEng, are not honorary titles!

MPhil is typically given to people who undertake research based programmes, you need to have to produce a thesis from at least two-years worth of work and/or in some cases, publish a pre-requisite number (less than is required of a PhD). In some cases, MPhil are given for those who have not satisfied the requirements for a PhD or to use the Singaporean speak failed PhD. So some element of effort has to be expanded for it.

MEng is given to people, in English Universities, who undertake a four-years programmes, as opposed to a typical three-years one. All Cambridge courses are three-years programmes.

As for your expectation that employers are aware. Perhaps if they took trouble to understand the subtleties of the English education system. Frankly, I note that is often not the case in Singapore.

First HRs are typically handled by, let's just say, people with a Singaporean mindset. I am retired now but when I was a regional manager of an MNCs, I always find that the HR people in the Singapore office can only think in labels. A certificate (i.e. piece of paper) call Master is automatically higher than a Bachelor, and a Bachelor is higher than a Diploma. That's the way they think period.

When I was a manager then I often instructed my HR people to look out for people who have undertaken postgraduate training, they would include people from Cambridge, with MA, who patently not have undertaken postgraduate training. On the other hand, they would discount people with Diploma, from European universities, because they assume that diploma is not a degree. They don't realise that is what European Continentals call undergraduate degrees.

On another note, my ex-employer typically have a hard-nose attitude towards educational certificates, namely they, in private don't give a care in the world. The philosophy is that a person's educational achievement is an individual investment. All they are concern is whether the person can do the job on the company's term. And why should they leave to a third-party, no matter how good, like a university, to tell us if a candidate is good or not.

Unfortunately, I had to kind of in my Singapore office make it publicly seemed to be important because our Singaporean board members are very blinked bunch.

I remember a case of a Singapore Polytechnic diploma holder whom I wanted to promote to be my deputy but was rejected as he was not a "graduate". I really like the guy and got him a posting in the UK head office where he eventually became a senior executive there and duely decided to give up his Singapore citizenship!

The strange thing is that the people in Singapore office are so obsessed with degrees that sometime, they neglect their own citizen. Yet it seemed that they don't mind often be dictated to by head office staff who don't even have an A level degree. Or in some cases, despite being a technology company, don't mind that their head office managers often have Cambridge degrees in Arts History telling them what to do. And when it comes to hiring the Singapore office would insist on having people with "relevant" degrees. Whatever the word "relevant" means.

jonathan said...

"If you are tired of it, you can go and break bond. This is the kind of integrity of most scholars. If you are a gahmen, drill in your head, you are to serve the people who pay for you.They should just send you to NUS/NTU/SMU instead of wasting my money to pay your damn overseas education.

Young people these days don't know the word "loyalty"."


i haven't tied myself down to a scholarship yet, but i'm only applying for those that interest me. so hopefully I won't have to break bond. In any case, when push comes to shove, many scholars in the less prestigious scholarships find that their career is reach pretty much a dead-end and they hate their jobs. If you were in their shoes, would you really wait for a few more years and waste more of your precious youth away? You're gonna say that they shouldn't have signed up for it in the first place, but I dare you to say you have adequate power of foresight to predict if you're gonna hate your job 10 years down the road. we can only try our best to imagine.

and it's not that singaporeans these days have less loyalty. the simple reason most didn't break bonds decades ago was that they just couldn't pay the liquidated damages.

insens said...

Why should Aaron care? He's already finished his course in NUS. He's already proven himself to be pro-miw.
Good for him.
How much different would his post be if he hadn't made it into NUS.

I graduated from compsci more than 6 years ago, and the ratio was already 2 sporeans to 1 foreigner in my faculty. The ratio in my hostel was 1 to 1. What about now?

One must remember also that Aaron is from Arts, which is why he sees all the locals. Remember that since the beginning of time, Arts has been the dumping ground of locals who cannot get in Bizad, Law...etc I don't think much has changed, and I highly doubt these foreigners will come to spore just to get a Arts and Social Science Degree. They come for Comp Sci, Engineering, Bio/Sci. Real degrees with real jobs waiting for them when they graduate. Real jobs that should have gone to locals.

Anonymous said...

I am horrified at the level of xenophobia in this post. I feel like I'm reading some radical right wing anti-foreigner news letter. Are we really getting ready to go and beat up some foreign students?

Someone on this thread pointed out that while the absolute number of foreign students in the local university system has risen, the actual proportion hasn't changed that much. Isn't this quite reasonable? It's not pleasant getting rejected at anything, but not everyone is destined for university. This is a fact of life.

And aren't the scholarships and student grants that are handed out similar to the aid programmes and developmental assistance we render to our poorer neighbours? This is a form of engagement that maintains a dialogue with our potentially hostile neighbours.

I'm assuming that the richest Indonesians head over to the US for their education, and that the wealthier foreigners who are here are not receiving bursaries (hopefully this is the case). I guess there will be abuses, but hopefully the selection process can limit this.

Aaron said...

I can't help but be amused at the number of commentators here who say I am pro-miw. I'm not going to defend myself of this charge, but I think that labeling people does nothing to help the discussion, and it's quite sad that a discussion has to come to such a level.

As far as I'm concerned, I have acknowledged the points made by Mr Wang and his supporters many times, and I do concede some grounds. Unfortunately, Mr Wang and his supporters are not intent on conceding any ground at all on an issue that has no clear answers. If people are not willing to at least revise their assumptions and insist on their on views, there's no point in discussing. If one believes something to be true, it will always remain true for that person, whether it is really true or not.

I would like to respond to Dr Oz, I do not think that all Singaporeans are morons. I am merely saying that, at least on paper, foreign students are generally pretty good. And yes Dr Oz, I do see that our universities are opening its doors to anyone with the ability to enter, regardless of nationality. And, I think that this is not exactly a bad thing for Singaporeans. If an open door policy results in mostly Singaporean students getting in, it means that our human capital is indeed great. If the reverse happens instead, then our human capital is inferior. We will not know how good our people are without subjecting them to competition.

Thanks to ben for summarising the crux of the problem, which I have not been able to articulate very well:

basically everyone who has left a comment here is arguing for how much trade-off must we allow between equity and a university education for our local students and a market-based outcome where university admission should be based on merit, to those who are willing and able to pay.

I emphasize again that I do not believe in a win-lose situation, be it winners being locals or foreigners. If I am to be labelled as pro-miw or pro-government person just because I am arguing for a win-win situation, so be it. I just think that we should believe in our own ability to compete on level ground with anyone else, be it fellow Singaporeans or foreigners. If I am not as good, I either accept my fate quietly or strive to beat the other person, and not keep him/her out of the competition.

Anonymous said...

"If you are tired of it, you can go and break bond. This is the kind of integrity of most scholars. If you are a gahmen, drill in your head, you are to serve the people who pay for you."

Hahaha!!! The PAP ministers are the ones setting the trend so why is it surprising when scholars take the same route of serving their own interests? If public service should be the primary policy of a minister, then why insist on such high salaries?

Com'on....everyone's looking out for himself. As the Chinese saying goes dont expect the bottom to be straight when the top isnt.

Hahahahaha....that comment was a big fat joke!

FrauP.

Anonymous said...

To the person who wrote the following:

"...On the other hand, they would discount people with Diploma, from European universities, because they assume that diploma is not a degree. They don't realise that is what European Continentals call undergraduate degrees...

...On the other hand, they would discount people with Diploma, from European universities, because they assume that diploma is not a degree. They don't realise that is what European Continentals call undergraduate degrees...

...Yet it seemed that they don't mind often be dictated to by head office staff who don't even have an A level degree. Or in some cases, despite being a technology company, don't mind that their head office managers often have Cambridge degrees in Arts History telling them what to do..."

I have to salute you! You really described the Singapore hiring environment VERY APTLY. There are even discussions on the other side of this earth (in Europe) regarding this typical Singapore hiring mentality. I cant help but sense that people are lauging at how things are done in Singapore.

It's the "ang-moh-surely-better" mentality *roll eyes*!

FrauP.

Fox said...

And aren't the scholarships and student grants that are handed out similar to the aid programmes and developmental assistance we render to our poorer neighbours? This is a form of engagement that maintains a dialogue with our potentially hostile neighbours.

Hahahahahahahahahaha.

The vast majority of foreign students in local universities in Singapore are from the PRC, India and the Malaysian Chinese community.

Are you proposing that Singapore potentially faces hostile threats from the PRC, India and Chinese Malaysians?

ben said...

To FrauP

sorry if i confused u but correct my geography if i'm wrong, Germany isn't really a Scandinavian country, is it not?

Pls do check up on your info before correcting me. I profess not to be sure about Germany, but places like italy do give subsidised education. How do I get my info from? From my Danish, Swedish and Finnish friends, who are the ones getting the money of course. Which stranger in the country then would give them 400euros to spend as a university allowance??

PJ said...

Mr Bart said: <<<< The end result is that the market will begin to discount the degrees of local university graduates, inferencing that a significant proportion of them earned their degrees only because of the institutionalised protectionism. What happens next? Eager parents will fork out even more money to send their kids overseas, even if they have local access.>>>>

Mr Bart, it was only the very recent, what, 5 years, that the gahmen have opened the floodgates to foreign students at taxpayers expense. Before that, "institutionalised protectionism" was in effect, as implied by you. But I dont remember any employer ever thinking that the degrees obtained by those during the years of "institutionalised protectionism" were "discounted" and inferior? I know, bcos I am one of them employers. No offence intended, Mr Bart, but your thinking is very very seriously seriously flawed.

PJ said...

Aaron said: <<<< I just think that we should believe in our own ability to compete on level ground with anyone else, be it fellow Singaporeans or foreigners. If I am not as good, I either accept my fate quietly or strive to beat the other person, and not keep him/her out of the competition. >>>>


Clap clap clap.

Those foreigners coming in may be good, but they're not the BEST from where they come from (India, China, maybe even Malaysia). You wont sing the same tune if you got edged out by hordes of their best coming in here.

Would you quietly accept your fate?

Mezzo said...

"One must remember also that Aaron is from Arts, which is why he sees all the locals. Remember that since the beginning of time, Arts has been the dumping ground of locals who cannot get in Bizad, Law...etc I don't think much has changed, and I highly doubt these foreigners will come to spore just to get a Arts and Social Science Degree. They come for Comp Sci, Engineering, Bio/Sci. Real degrees with real jobs waiting for them when they graduate. Real jobs that should have gone to locals."

An arts degree is a "real" degree too, by the way.

In any case, FASS is not the dumping ground of NUS, and there are a lot of foreigners there too - remember that good old degree called Economics? It's in the arts faculty.

IIRC, Science, and Building/Real Estate have some of the lowest entry scores around. FASS is actually not that easy to get into nowadays.

Please, let's stop perpetuating that stereotype about FASS being a dumping ground for the rest of the university.

Anonymous said...

If there is any need of proof that Aaron is a wanabe MIW, here is it:

As far as I'm concerned, I have acknowledged the points made by Mr Wang and his supporters many times, and I do concede some grounds. Unfortunately, Mr Wang and his supporters are not intent on conceding any ground at all on an issue that has no clear answers. If people are not willing to at least revise their assumptions and insist on their on views, there's no point in discussing. If one believes something to be true, it will always remain true for that person, whether it is really true or not.

Aaron so called Mr Wang and his supporter, have through logical argument, albeit with some personal mud slinging, have substantially, if not completely, demolished his lines of argument. YET HE STILL BUAY KUM GUAN, wants his pound of cake.

First he insists that he has "conceded" ground. So on this basis we, "the supporters" must also concede ground too. Fine, if he never really intended on ceding ground then say so lah! No need to Wayang that you views have change when it patently have not.

Second, he accuse "us" supporters of "insisting on our views" whatever that means and he himself still insists on holding to the assumption that there is "no clear answer". So who is insisting on holding to a single view here.

Now look at the how the MIW operates. First they increase wages. People comprehensively points out the flaws of the logic of the increment.

Then MIW say, ok I will forgo part of my salary for first so-and-so period but after that I get my full pay. Then turn round as say to detractors and say: "I have conceded, so you must too". MIW also add to detractors: "You musn't hold on to the view the excessive pay rise is unjustifiable. Otherwise how can we have a reasonable debate". Doesn't matter if I am still getting my pay rise and still insisting on holding on to my views that the pay rise is justifiable!

See the similarity between MIW and Aaron!

Tan Ah Kow

Anonymous said...

Aaron,

This is not a win-win situation. I can assure you that most of your 'foreign talents' in Singapore are not as good as Singaporeans.

In the USA, I have seen foreign immigrants born & raised in Singapore who have competed & really shined very bright. And I have seen plenty of foreigners on Singapore scholarships, which should have gone to Singaporeans (born in Singapore & have carried arms).

This is part of a broader issue of the trashed foreign trash policy.
This state is so suffocating and I see no helping hands to deserving Singaporeans.

zhixiang8787 said...

Mr Wang,

i thank you for fighting for the rights of qualified local students.

Aaron and bartjp,

let me conclude from your posts:

1)admitting more local students who are lower qualified than foreign students will lower NUS and NTU's achievements and international uni standings.

2)if every singaporean student were to study and become graduate through meritocratic exams, NUS and NTU's degrees will cheapen and scorn upon by employers.

enough said. it has gone on to prove that your years of education are indeed "wasting resources".

recruit ong said...

anyone who puts their faces on their blogs and sprouts politics are most likely PAP sympathisers.. closet case maybe with hidden agenda to get noticed. This is S'pore after all.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the issue is really simple. Mr Wang don't want the money he pay for the taxes to subsidize the foreigners' scholarships but the Singaporeans.

What's wrong with that? He's doing it to help the Singaporeans who can't help themselves. At least, he makes a point to tell those Aaron and Bart that he is not happy how the money is spent and also the places that the local unis are giving to the 2nd class FTs from China and India. The best ones are in the US.

How about Aaron and Bart? They don't even pay a single cent of taxes and expect the taxpayers to pay for those foreigners, who have their own children (Singaporeans) to feed and look after. These two morons don't understand what the taxpayers want to do with their money.

greiatric_eunuch said...

Bravo Aaron, bravo Bart JP, and bravo jonathon...spoken like true hard-headed, pragmatic S'poreans. The ancient one must be wiping away a tear of gratitude as we speak. His endless shibboleth of devil-take-the-hindmost has borne fruit after all. Nothing in the Constitution says that it is the first duty of an elected gov't to be mindful of the wishes of the tax-paying citizens that put it in power, right?

Those ungrateful whining b'stards (look how much we've done for them over 40 years and they're still complaining!) demanding admission for their qualified snotty-nosed kids simply do not appreciate world-class high policy. Why, one of our subsidised foreign super-stars might one day become Indonesian Minister of Trade - think how undyingly grateful he'd be and how much sand we could get on the cheap. The very notion would make any self-respecting civil servant cream his Armani's in delight. Well worth the price of a few impotent S'porean protests, I'd say. So a few miserable heartlanders lose out but hell, they're expendable for the greater good of the motherland. Why, oh why, can't they see that if you want to make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs?

Put yourselves in the shoes of the policymakers. What would you have done?

Well, for starters, how about implementing the spirit of the Singapore Constitution as originally written? Ah, but we all know that certain people would sooner have a Wasabi enema than allow any such foolish ideas to be applied, correct?

Mr Wang Fan Club said...

Our almighty Mr Wang

Your nemesis Kway Teow Man has once declared war on you again.

We will soon declare war on him.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Wang said..."American schools also do not use American citizens' taxpayers money to give free education to Singaporeans or other foreigners."

You are wrong about that, Mr. Wang. I attended an American university as a foreign graduate student. I didn't pay a cent. Nothing. My education was fully covered. Before you point out a distinction between undergraduates and graduate students, foreign undergraduates at US state universities pay the same tuition as Americans coming from any other US state ("out-of-state tuition - the word tuition meaning fee in the US"). Therefore, because state universities are subsidized through federal dollars, the foreign students at state universities are reaping some benefit from US taxpayers even as undergraduates.

While I was a graduate student, my child was enrolled in a local American elementary school. My child was a foreigner there, but we didn't pay a single cent for his education. No fee, no book expenses, no uniform purchasing. A yellow school bus even picked him up every morning for free and brought him back home. Everything was free! And we were foreigners. Living on the generosity of US taxpayers. Contrast this to Singapore where PR's and foreigners have to pay extra fees just to use primary schools, and the citizens constantly complain about how disadvantaged they are. I'm a Singaporean, and no American ever complained to me. They only complain about giving ILLEGAL immigrants free education. Such a difference from Singapore.

So, I disagree with what you have said.

kt said...

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Right now, it's subsidised by taxpayers money, which means I paying for the education of a big bunch of kids from India, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. "

One third of the workforce are foreigners, which means one third of taxpayers are foreigners. So if the foreign students percentage is less than one third, it could mean that you are not subsidising them. On the contrary it is the foreigners who are paying for foreigners and subsidising the locals as well.

Anonymous said...

To be frank, to a lot of NUS foreign graduate students, Singapore is just a stepping stone when they can't enter better universities in the US. They will just serve their required years of employment and scuttle off to where ever benefits them. It probably cost more to train a PhD than just a degree. Money well spent?

What makes foreign students more capable than locals? SATs score? Singaporeans are so adept at exams that it will only take a short while before we excel in such exams which is why SATs are no longer a criteria for Uni entry.

I really glad Singapore still has such a citizen like Mr Wang. Rock on :):)

Have more faith in our fellow citizens.

Anonymous said...

KT at June 13, 2007 1:57 AM,

Your argument is real lamed. Where did you get this 1/3% foreign workforce stats?

But, as well interpolate your reasoning further, right, and bring the workforce to 99.9% foreign talents and 100% Singaporean NS, right? So that 99.9% foreigner supports foreign AND SG folks, right?

Anyway, that's the grand plan, eh?

Anonymous said...

If our local universities threw out merit-based admission policies and started favouring Singaporeans over foreigners, it will end up like the crappy universities across the causeway where Malays are preferred over more deserving Chinese.

I hope you don't mind if I disagree with you.

I am a graduate university in the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) - a public university in the state of Illinois, very much like NUS and NTU. Undergraduate admission into UIUC is much tougher for people from out of state and international students form less than 5 percent of the population (as opposed to 20 percent for NUS and NTU). Yet, no one in his right mind would call UIUC a crappy university. As far as I can tell, the quality of a modern research university has very little to do with the percentage of nonlocals in its undergraduate population.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/youngrepublic/message/9141

Anonymous said...

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/youngrepublic/message/9133

Anonymous said...

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/youngrepublic/message/

Search for message 9133.

Euterpe said...

I guess the question is - what do we want our universities to be? The best in the world, or places of learning and training that turns out people able to work in available jobs? If our local universities want to be the best in the world ("best" as defined by rankings or whatever), then the needs of Singaporeans must necessarily take a back seat - I don't think I am putting Singaporeans down by saying that the top 25% of Singaporean students cannot all rank among the 25% of the world's students. So if you aren't among the top 25% of the world's students, too bad, you can't get a place among in the universities that aim to be in the top 10% of the world's universities.

However, is that the right thing to do for Singapore? Singapore in the sense of its people. I cannot believe that. International students are by and large, a privileged bunch of people. Probably with sufficient funds to be in their own local universitiy and with some cash to spare for a stint overseas. But pple like us, whose only hope of a university education is at home, and even then only with the help of study loans - what hope do we have if our local universities decide, in their drive to be world class, to leave the rest of us behind because we are not "good" enough to be in the top 10% or 25% or whatever applicable percentage worldwide, even though we are among the top 10% or 20% in Singapore itself. For the glory of the universities (financed by taxpayer money), are we Singaporeans to be left behind in the dust?

Anonymous said...

To Ben:

No. Germany is certainly not part of the Scandinavian lot. But correct me if my eyesight failed me but this was what you wrote:

"...IN EUROPE, for example in Scandinavian countries, students are given free education up to PhD level if they are willing and able to, and on top of that, are given an allowance every month (around 400 euros every month at university level) REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU'RE STUDYING."

You specifically mentioned IN EUROPE. If you had meant to refer to ONLY Scandinavian countries, you could have omited "in Europe" and gone straight to saying IN SCANDINAVIAN COUNTRIES. Europe was the main theme in your sentence and Scandinavian countries were a by-product of you sentence.

Last i checked, Germany is part of Europe and it constitutes the largest economy in Europe for that matter.

Another question i have is:

Does the average Scandinavian get free education and the 400euros even if he were to study outside of his country - meaning his governments will continue paying for his fees plus the 400euros even if for example a Finnish chooses to do his degree/masters/PhD in say England?

The reason why i ask the above is because you wrote "REGARDLESS OF WHERE YOU'RE STUDYING".

FrauP.

Anonymous said...

"You are wrong about that, Mr. Wang. I attended an American university as a foreign graduate student. I didn't pay a cent. Nothing. My education was fully covered."....anon, June 13, 2007 1:54 AM

Hi anon, I have live here in the US for over 25 years and is an American citizen. This is news to me that a foreign graduate student did not have to pay any tuition in an American university. Could I have the name of this American university where you did not pay a single cent for your graduate degree? I'm sure my fellow American citizens would be interested to have this information so that they can get free graduate education here also like you.

I'm fortunate to be living in California where we have the California State University system for us Californians where our tuition is subsidized by California taxpayers. Our tuition at CSU is way way less than the other states colleges. California also has ccommunity colleges where you can do your 2 years general education requirements, and pay less tuition, & then transfer to either the CSU (public) or UC (University of California, which is semi private) system or even USC (totally private) & graduate with a Bachelors from those universities.

In our CSU system, as far as I know, California residents receive priority (as long as the students meet the admission requirements) over out-of- staters & international students. Out-of-saters & International students pay much higher tuition fees compared to us California residents. Anyone who is interested, can go to the California State Universties website & check it out.

I'm proud to say that I'm a beneficiary of our CSU system & I very gladly pay my California taxes for all the programs that benefitted us Californians.

If you receive a scholarship to do your graduate degree, then perhaps you should qualified it by saying so. As far as I can ascertain anyone who desires a tertiary education here pay tuition unless they are given a scholarship either from the colleges themselves, private & public foundations, corporations, etc. or like the CSU sytem pay lesser tuition as a California resident.

You are right about elementary & high school education being free here. This is enshrined in our constitution that all kids get free elementary & high school education here, again courtesy of the American taxpayers. Children from low income families can also get free breakfast & don't have to jump thru the hoops for low income qualification.
Also, if you have a child with learning disabilities, the school districts have to accommodate these group of students as well as required by federal law. Education for children with moderate to severe disabilities are also free to the families here in California again as provided my law.

So Mr Wang is right on why should Singapore taxpayers pay for the tertiary education of the foreigners.

Anonymous said...

When a student scoring A,B,E expects to get into the university, I think we should really worry about the standards of our university.

Of course, the question has to be asked: where exactly should the benchmark be? No clue. But definately not ABE. Go away.

Now, if someone scoring perhaps B,B,B fails to make it into say...Comp Eng(one of the largest intake?) because of foreign talents, maybe we have a case

*waits to be slammed for being supposedly elitist*

Mr Wang Says So said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jonathan said...

"Bravo Aaron, bravo Bart JP, and bravo jonathon...spoken like true hard-headed, pragmatic S'poreans. The ancient one must be wiping away a tear of gratitude as we speak. His endless shibboleth of devil-take-the-hindmost has borne fruit after all. Nothing in the Constitution says that it is the first duty of an elected gov't to be mindful of the wishes of the tax-paying citizens that put it in power, right?

Those ungrateful whining b'stards (look how much we've done for them over 40 years and they're still complaining!) demanding admission for their qualified snotty-nosed kids simply do not appreciate world-class high policy. Why, one of our subsidised foreign super-stars might one day become Indonesian Minister of Trade - think how undyingly grateful he'd be and how much sand we could get on the cheap. The very notion would make any self-respecting civil servant cream his Armani's in delight. Well worth the price of a few impotent S'porean protests, I'd say. So a few miserable heartlanders lose out but hell, they're expendable for the greater good of the motherland. Why, oh why, can't they see that if you want to make an omelette, you gotta break some eggs?"


WOW. you do a really good job of reading and comprehending my posts there. now for the question: do you know how to read?

i can't believe someone like you would still put out your misfit of an argument here in such a bareface manner. the simplest thing you could do to not embarrass yourself is to actually read properly the comments of the people you're talking to, and you've failed that round miserably.

Anonymous said...

All these elitists talk about ‘waste of resources’ from the superior-than-thou-so-sux-to-be-you group of people scared me as a human being.

Can you imagine one day that the poor and the less fortunate would be denied a place to live in Sinkapore and are expected to be expelled simply because the govt should have no obligation in taking care of their citizens who are considered not good enough for our 1st world world class extraordinary society. It would be a waste of our national resources for educating, feeding and accommodating a group of people that are not a major contributing factor to our GDP and also being a socially irresponsible burden to our progression for more good years ahead.

This ugly fictional picture of the future might actually become a reality starting right now with the people who believe that their fellow citizens whom are below a certain ‘excellency’ of grades should not deserve a place in local U because they view further education for this group of people as only a waste of resources.

The Human Battery said...

Singapore should drop its university standards by a lot, immediately

Serious! No sarcasm.

Compared to almost all other developed countries, we are not producing enough graduates per X number of population. (I will not substantiate this statement. Anyone who disbelieves can go search through the net to satisfy themselves. I gave the example of Finland in the comment section of this post).

This means:
1. Based purely on educational principles, current NUS/NTU/SMU admission standards are set way too high. Those other countries have much lower standards. "But why must we follow them and lower our standards"? I hear some of you ask. Well, that's because:

2. Due to such artificial and arbitrary high admission grades, we do not produce enough doctors, lawyers, scientist etc and in fact, this is the cause of structural ununemployment - not having enough educated people for the new economy. (That's why 80% of our research institution's scientists are foreigners!!!)

3. We should lower standards asap! How low? To the "low" level that you see in other developed countries in Europe and America. Eg. In these countries, an A-level equivalence of BBB without biology is good enough for medicine. So they have sufficient doctors per 100,000 of population, whereas we have to import from overseas. And so on. A, B, E is good enough to go to a 3rd or 4th tier university


So, why doesnt the government do that? Two simple reasons: MONEY and POLITICS.

Money - The government can save money by making Singaporeans fork out their own money to study long distance part-time, or go australia to study! It will still get the desired number of grads without coming up with one cent i.e. your tax dollar is channeled "elsewhere", instead of into university education - pay for your own education!

Politics - the more educated the citizens are, the more difficult to control (eg. How many of you here are university grads? I think many!) Therefore, always estimate conservatively and train the minimum number that the economy requires - do not consider personal aspiration/fulfillment of citizens. For full elaboration, read this.

By the way, I can fully understand why people like Arron and Bart say what they say. But what I cannot understand is why those who are far from Arron and Bart's position also support such a policy!!!

Anonymous said...

"When a student scoring A,B,E expects to get into the university, I think we should really worry about the standards of our university. "

An ABE student could very well have a higher IQ than the poster of the above message.

Anonymous said...

May I suggest to Sporeans that those who failed to get into medical school at NUS with excellent grades should apply NOW to Uni of Hong Kong. Yes, HK. Don't trivilize this cos the Uni of HK medical degree is widely recognized in UK, Canada, Australia & NZ, USA. Also, right here in Spore. If I am not wrong, the Uni HK academic year starts in Sep/Oct. Language of instruction is in English.

Also for those keen on biz/accountancy degrees, opt for Uni of HK or Chinese Uni of HK where again medium of instruction is English.

Above all, cost of living & semester fee is almost similar to Spore. As for culture shock, its minimal or nil. So go for it, apply now for HK varsities.

Jevon Louis said...

I see two issues have arisen here as a result of Mr. Wang's post. The first being whether Singaporeans should get priority in admission and the second, whether Singaporeans should be made to subsidize the education of those international students who come here. My following comment pertains to the latter.

From the Singapore Angle post on university admissions, it appears that on average about 2,500 international students are admitted annually, and therefore, I assume the same number benefit from MOE tuition fee subsidies. Given that each subsidy amounts to almost $20,000 ( and is likely to increase over time to allow university fees to remain affordable to locals), about $50,000,000 (50 million) of taxpayer money goes towards providing a subsidized education for international students EVERY single year.

Is this an appropriate practice given that 50 million would go a long way in other much needed social services?

Anonymous said...

A few people here think that it is alright to use OUR money to subsidize foreigners, who then take away places in the universities set up by OUR money from OUR own citizens.

To keep the standards up. Huh? When the A-levels grades from Singaporeans improve year on year? If more people are getting good grades from hard work and better home/school environment, that does not mean that standards are dropping.

And, in the first place, why should we be subsidizing the education of foreigners?

Family said...

FAMILY BUSINESS
=====================
"Every month, I give my father money. He uses this money to send my sisters and brothers to university. I see no wrong in it, for we are family".

This guy has a good father and a good family.

But do you know there is another type of father and family? This type:

"Every month, I give my father money. He uses this money to send other people's children to university. Meanwhile, my sisters have to come up with their own money to go university, after working for 10 years. As for my brothers, they don't have enough savings, so they did not go university and earn much less than the rest of us who did. 2 of my siblings whose uni ed are subsidised by my father, find this situation alright and defend my dad's action"

This guy is very suay - not only does his father have some mental problem, but so do his siblings!!!

Anonymous said...

"Family said...

FAMILY BUSINESS
=====================
"Every month, I give my father money. He uses this money to send my sisters and brothers to university. I see no wrong in it, for we are family".

This guy has a good father and a good family.

But do you know there is another type of father and family? This type:

"Every month, I give my father money. He uses this money to send other people's children to university. Meanwhile, my sisters have to come up with their own money to go university, after working for 10 years. As for my brothers, they don't have enough savings, so they did not go university and earn much less than the rest of us who did. 2 of my siblings whose uni ed are subsidised by my father, find this situation alright and defend my dad's action"

This guy is very suay - not only does his father have some mental problem, but so do his siblings!!!"

Well put.

Eggzackerly.

Some brave men we have here said...

ONLY IN SINGAPORE!!! Only in this strange little Island do we have "interesting" people debating and arguing till face red red "interesting" questions such as this: Should a citizen's tax money be used to further fellow citizens' education or those of foreigners'.

In all other countries, the answer is clear. In a democracy, no politician dare answer "foreigners" in the above question. Even in a dictatorship, NO politicians dare answer "foreigners" openly too! Do you see any politicians in Sg saying that? And of course, no citizen think that way too.

But here, we have at least 2 fellow here who openly justify spending tax money to fund foreigners' education. ONLY IN SINGAPORE!!! Wiow, you people are more PAP than PAP - pap politicians dont even dare to say such things to citizens!

mad family said...

FAMILY BUSINESS PART 2
======================

"I give my father money. My father say he will use my money to send 5 of my 12 siblings to university. Additionally, he will get two outsiders to call him 'daddy' and send them to university on my money too.
Today, we did a head count. Yes, he indeed did send 5 of my siblings to university. Those two outsiders did NOT displace any of my 5 siblings. Therefore, I am very happy - so long as none of my 5 sibilings' quota has been displaced by the 2 outsiders, it is ok for my dad to spent money on these 2 outsiders. Yes, I know some of my other siblings have only enough money for 2 meals, while my grandmother is cleaning dishes at 80 years old to get by. But so what? Doesn't matter. My dad need NOT spend money on his mother/my grandma, or on my underperforming siblings. Quota not displaced = good enough ".

This man is a mad man and this is a mad family

Anonymous said...

Not 2 issues (priority, subsidy). Just 1 issue - what is tax money for? Is it to build (subsidy) university for (priority) citizens, or is it for foreigners?

Anonymous said...

is it true that there is now a BMTC school 3??

if so, it really goes well with the point

"ask not what ur country can do for u...(not much)

but what u can do for u country(what u have to do for ur country)"

state-less said...

"Ask not what your country can do for you..."

Singapore is not a country. It is a company. Once you psycho yourself to accept this, you will not begrudge singapore Inc, just as you will not blame any employer who sack old employee who are no longer useful.

Also the sooner you accept this, the more you will want to emigrate - you dont want to be stateless, do you?

Anonymous said...

Aaron,

I went to the US for my university education, after working for a few years to accumulate the fund, because I was denied a place at local U.

Increasing intake does not mean standard of education will decline or resources will definitely be wasted. Reading your blog, sometimes, I feel your thought can be rather shallow and narrow.

Ask those who was denied a local university education how they feel about it.

Anonymous said...

To the anon above talking about the California system -- you said "Out-of-staters & International students" pay higher undergraduate fees than Californians. That is true! BUT those out-of-state americans pay the same fees as FOREIGNERS. So American citizens living in states with piss poor universities like Alabama end up having to pay the same as international students if they want to go to a decent university. Moreover, your California state universities receive government funding for their facilities and some of their expenses, but these proportional costs are not fully absorbed into an out-of-stater's fees. The out-of-stater also benefits from those government subsidies. (By subsidies, now, I mean FEDERAL government subsidies which are shared among all public universities lowering tuition fees, both in-staters and out-of-staters, and foreigners).

As for my graduate education, it's very common for graduate students to get tuition waivers. Ask any graduate student studying anywhere. I just had to TA a couple classes a semester - the same thing any American citizen also did to get a tuition waiver. I got the same stipend as Americans in my department (as required by university policy). I went to UC Berkeley and studied chemistry.

Anonymous said...

Bart JP wrote about "Positive discrimination" ?

I guess that there is no different from "Honest Mistake".

Damm, you people are creative with words.

Anonymous said...

TA (and RA) too, are jobs - you work for the university or your professor, and you get compensated. Part of the compensation is a "waiver" of your school fee (i.e. instead of being paid the correct market rate of $X, you are paid $Y, after $(X-Y) is deducted for your tuition).

The American Government takes good care of their own citizens and it is only after doing so, that they take some care of foreigners. Trying to compare that to Singapore is ridiculous.

ANON, YOU ARE NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO HAS GONE OVERSEAS. 40 years ago, lky can brainwash citizens with similar nonsense abt overseas (oh, he is still trying to do that: finland is mediocre, he said). But not now. ANON, dont be a laughing stock like lky has become. And please, dont educate us about your california experience. Many of us here are reading mr.wang's blog from all over the world. Geez

Aaron said...

Anon,

On what basis were you were denied a place? I think that is a very important question.

And, if you feel that I am "shallow and narrow", please come and engage me in a discussion to enlighten me. I will be grateful. I only ask that you hold an equally open mind in any discussion, or else it'll be pointless.

harvard said...

I went to UC Berkeley and studied chemistry.

So? Big deal! I myself went Harvard and studied Biology. And to me, what you are trying to say is simply not true. The American government did NOT sell out americans by giving priority and subsidy to foreigners the way the singapore government did.

It piss me off that you can talk in such a condescending way - the "I am from berkeley, i know the situation overseas which you people dont know" type of attitude. REMEMBER again: many of us are reading mr. wang's blog from usa. and we find your comparison of the american and singapore's government not true.

The same goes to BART. Everytime, you try to lecture us about your "we are just like usa" crap, remember this, lest you become a laughing stock.

Anonymous said...

Aaaron,
"On what basis were you were denied a place? I think that is a very important question".

I am not that anon, but I think you are trying to divert the issue away. Your question is *not* important at all. The only very important point is: he got into an overseas university and is now a graduate after coughing up his own money. This money should have been given to him by our sg government - we should have enough univerity places for people like him. And this will NOT lower standard because currently our standard is too high. Read what the human battery said. I shant repeat it for him.

Having an open mind is good. Deliberately trying to divert issue away is no good :)

Anonymous said...

"Yeah, don't you know that an FT indian in an IB always hire an indian and a FT chinese always hire a chinese? But a Singaporean will never do that. That's why we are such losers."

I strongly agreed, man. I experienced it many times where a Singaporean will never hired a Singaporean. They have the mentality that FT are always better than local singaporean.

Am I proud to be a Singaporean? Nannnn

ah said...

>Human battery wrote:

"... (That's why 80% of our research institution's scientists are foreigners!!!) ..."

The actual numbers are 50% (The numbers are on the A-STAR website). But foreigners disproportionately fill the higher positions. The reason it is so high is due to the long lead up time to train PhDs. It takes 4-7 years to train a PhD in Science. Then 5-10 years of Postdoc to become a junior project leader. Singapore cannot simply magic these experienced scientists out of thin air. So they have to import them.

Besides, Science is an international endeavour. Often the foreign worker percentage is relatively high. In fact Riken (a large Japanese research establishment) is actively trying to increase its foreign worker percentage as it is a strategic advantage that brings international collaboration. A low number of foreign workers is seen as a disadvantage. That said A-Star is doing just about everything it can to load up on Singaporean PhDs. In fact its pushing them too hard promoting them into positions beyond their training and competency levels. But that is another subject.

Sorry to go off topic. Interesting heated discussion. Shame about some of the sillier arguments concerning 'elites' (er... but elites *are* exactly the Singaporeans the University system creates!) But I suppose that's what you get in a anon forum... er...

Final: As long as the proportion of foreign students is not rising then that is fine, but tough.

Merv said...

Let assume that the university have only 100 spaces for a course. It can’t admit more, because the lecture theatre has only 100 seats etc.

Simply put, the infrastructure cannot support even 1 more student.

Of these 100 spaces, 90% (90 spaces) is restricted to local students, while 10% (10 spaces) are for foreigners.

Given that restriction, if there are 91 local straight A students (assume all same grades), there will be 1 student that is not admitted. Athough he/she is as brillant as the other 90 straight A student.

Are some idionts saying that it is fair that 1 brillant local student has to be disappointed, just because the university die die has to admit 10% foreign students?

if a foreign student has same grade as the local student, the local student does not get admitted because of the quota (91 students applying), but the foreign student still gets in? (because foreigner quota not full)?

What a farce. Majulah Singapura!

The Human Battery said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Human Battery said...

Anon,
"Singapore cannot simply magic these experienced scientists out of thin air. So they have to import them.

Yes, you are correct. But why do we have to produce scientists out of thin air? Has the country not gain independence for 40 years? We have 40 years to produce scientists out of university, not thin air!!!

Is not "40" a greater figure than the "4-7 years" or "5-10 years" you mention?

WHAT HAVE THE GOVERNMENT BEEN PRODUCING THE PAST 40 YEARS? Oh, I see, busy producing engineers and production workers for the MNCs!

Now, if only the government did not try to anyhow predict manpower needs and restrict higher education to just one university, would we have this problem? Most countries do not limit higher education in order to produce cheap labours for MNC. Are we digits or citizens?


btw, the 50% figure you cited does not refer to experienced scientists. Most, if not all, are junior scientists with freshly minted phds (we could only attract a few senior "5-10 yrs experience" scientists and EDB will make sure we know them. The last I heard was Jackie Ying). In fact, it takes an average of 4 years to get a phd, so why confuse things by giving a range of "4-7 years".

Matter is very simple if we dont try to confuse it: Why it takes only 4 years to produce phds, and yet after 40 years, we cannot produce enough phds to populate our research labs?

I might as well supply you the answer: because the govt was busy limiting higher education so as to produce enough factory workers for MNCs! No country I know of manage its education in this way. You know of any other?

Anonymous said...

Government said it will not upgrade polytechnics to become unversities. But industry watchers (i.e. those in the private education business) think otherwise - they said that it is inevitable that one day polytechnics will all be granting degrees and that day will come soon!

I agree. That's the only way to curb dissatisfaction as citizens' aspiration rises. So when we have grandchildren, there will be 10+ universities in sg.

Anonymous said...

To harvard --

"I went to UC Berkeley and studied chemistry."

Gosh... the only reason I said I studied at UC Berkeley is because a poster asked where I went to graduate school and paid no fees...

Harvard and Berkeley are different. Harvard is a private school, so of course the level of federal subsidy is lower (but not nonexistant, if you count research grants and the like). And gee whiz, your post was so mean sounding...you seem to think I was being condescending, but I just want to let Singaporeans know about my experience too. What's with the harvard attitude?

Anonymous said...

When you read the posts by the young and naive aaron as well as the government scholar bart, you know you're reading the future plans of pap.

the chinese have a saying: fei shui bu lui wai ren tian. Literal translation: Fertile water doesn't irrigate outsiders' farms. it is that simple. when you can't even take care of your own citizens, pls don't come up with some smokescreen of "international goodwill", "compromising standards" or "wasting resources".

Kevin.l said...

Honestly, the biggest loser at the end of day is just the gahmen. Failure to capitalize on the surge in able-bodied, bright-minded, young individuals is a failure in policies mete out years ago. From a management point of view, the gahmen has only gone for the most "satisficing" outcome instead of the most effective one.

Jimmy Mun said...

Let's get some facts straight here:

1) Bulk of the foreign students are admitted under separate criteria from the "mainstream", ie. 3 A level subjects, GP, project work, L2 etc

What we have now is one country, two systems. Singaporeans must clear GP, L2, project work etc to get a shot at a uni place.

2) Should uni admission be based on meeting standards, ie ability of the individual or meeting norms, ie the standing of the individual in that cohort?

While the places in local unis have grown, there is little doubt that more and more Singaporeans are meeting the minimum standards for uni education. Having lectured in a polytechnic before, I can safely say that the best 20% of poly leavers are at least as good as most A level leavers who qualify for NUS/NTU, but are artificially kept out because there is a hard 10% cap of poly students permitted to be enter local unis, irregardless of their abilities.

3) 20% foreigners is a target that MOE is whipping local unis to achieve for many years. You can almost say it is a quota they have to fill at all cost, which is why they created so many scholarships exclusively for foreigners; local unis have no attraction for foreigners unless they are paid to study here. They met that target only recently. Given the MOE pressures, it is no surprise that the foreign scholarship holder in Singapore has lower standards than one 10 years ago.

What I hope is that the government would stop protecting their beloved foreign talents and subject them to open competition from Singaporeans, not just in admission, but also in scholarships, hostel rooms. It is time to end quotas that discriminate against Singaporeans.

Aaron said...

Anon,

I think it is an important question for a simple reason. If he/she was denied a place because he had 3As and A for GP, our system is seriously broke and we should call for heads to roll. If he got 3Cs and C6 for GP, then we might want to consider whether was he really unfairly denied a place.

Aaron said...

Human Battery,

You are spot on about the policy failure of the past. We have been too focused on meeting the needs of the MNCs. In other words, we have not been growing our own trees but helping others to grow theirs. I suppose the trend is slowly being reversed, but nonetheless, we are seeing the effects today.

Anonymous said...

to ai~ron (your head is beginning to sound like your name)

of course, the issue here is that a lot of DESERVING singaporeans are deprived of a place in the uni, thanks to our liberal 20% quota.

huh? you mean, after all these posts, you still fail to see that???

man, your place in the uni shld have been given to a ft instead!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those too... Denied a place in a local university for the three times I tried while serving my national service with sweat and blood. I aimed for the less popular courses, and still, it didn't work. I was rejected again, and again.

So my parents downgraded our house twice so as to afford the fees to send me to Australia to study. It was $22k a year just for tuition fees alone.

And no, unlike Singapore, the Australian government does NOT believe in using Australian tax payer money to subsidize the fees of foreigners over Australians. I paid full for everything, from transport to tuition fees.

I went in there with fury in my heart and bitterness fueling me, scoring a international fee-rebate scholarship in the first year, and becoming the president of the university's singapore students association there within three years after rising through the ranks from a humble editor assistant.

I have returned... and in a few years time, I will hold an election voting slip in my hand.

You will reap what you sow, Mr PAP.

Never forget. Never forgive.

mrlee said...

I would like to share what I had learn from my Army RSM. We instructors of the SAF love to train good quailty trainees. The consequences, there are always some pecentage of failures in IPPT, and there are some pectange of record GOLD award for IPPT too. Now, our RSM have changed my mind. Isn't it more important to have ZERO GOLD award and have 100% pass in IPPT ????? I have since become a good instructor since then. Many happy CO have given me appreciation letters for the 100% pass in IPPT.

Anonymous said...

I believe, IMHO, there are specific political reasons for the Gahmen to give scholarships to foreigners to come study in Sg universities.

Until and unless we understand the Gahmen's stand for doing so, we Singaporeans can whine until there is no tomorrow, I think such a policy will continue to remain in place for years to come.

Therefore I think the Gahmen do owe us an explanation as to why our taxpayer's hard earned monies is being used to pay for the foreigner's university education in Sg.

I think at the end of the day, it all boils down to a matter of dollars & sense. I'm sure, from the point of view of Singapore Inc, the Gahmen must have done their sums correctly to ensure that the taxpayer's monies will not go to waste in terms of the opportunity costs and benefits that these foreign graduates will contribute to the future economy.

I'm sure some minister will tell us the same old story, let's not be unduely worried!!!

Kevin.l said...

Anon> I think Sg gahmen has on some occasions proven that their mathematics not very good. So let's not lean our trust and understanding on that.

Braintied said...

On what basis do the idiots here say that foreigners are talented and Singaporeans are not and hence it is right to deny these "untalented" Singaporeans university places.

Remember that foreigners go through a different pre-U education. Unless you have a system of equating the grades of overseas pre-U qualifications to Singapore "A" levels/Diploma, you shouldn't assume that all admitted foreigners are more superior to Singaporeans.

It is a case of double standards - Singaporeans must score well in 2 languages whereas the foreigner need not. It is as if as long as you are foreign, you are a talent and admission standards can be lowered for you.

If anything, admitting foreigners at the expense of Singaporeans only lower the standard of our universities when we have graduates who can't even speak and write English properly.

A breath of time said...

Pardon me on digressing, a little.

Much has been said about building a 4th Uni in Singapore. But isn't UniSIM the 4th University of Singapore already?

Are we forgetful, or just plain rude to show such blatant disregard for the poor UniSIM? Sigh.

aassio said...

Braintied

"Unless you have a system of equating the grades of overseas pre-U qualifications to Singapore "A" levels/Diploma, you shouldn't assume that all admitted foreigners are more superior to Singaporeans."

You cannot. But you can compare the performance of foreigners coming in at certain grades as compared to Singaporeans with the same grades.

"If anything, admitting foreigners at the expense of Singaporeans only lower the standard of our universities when we have graduates who can't even speak and write English properly."

I differ on this. Unless you can prove that all foreigners speak and write English worse than all Singaporeans, this statement is biased, and incorrect.

Anonymous said...

"If anything, admitting foreigners at the expense of Singaporeans only lower the standard of our universities when we have graduates who can't even speak and write English properly."

I differ on this. Unless you can prove that all foreigners speak and write English worse than all Singaporeans, this statement is biased, and incorrect.

>> well.. no statistics to prove that, but you are invited to take the internal shuttle service in NUS to understand that the official language here is not English.... hahaha

Anonymous said...

Apologies if I've missed a post further up that details this info, but for the sake of clarity on what we're discussing, would anyone have access to the relevant info. I will also add that this would be separate to, but also hopefully help to inform, the discussion taking place which appears to be one of principle, rather than on fact:

1) How many places are open in our 3 main local universities in a typical year?

2) How many extra places were provided for this particular year where there has apparently been an increase in the number of babies due to the Dragon Year syndrome?

3) In a typical year, what percentage of places are reserved for foreigners?

4) In the enrollment year related to the Dragon Year issue, how many places are being reserved for foreigners?

5) How many 'extra' babies were born in the Dragon Year?

6) What percentage of a cohort traditionally enters university (I've seen somewhere on the forum it's about 20%?)

I'm trying to get a sense of proportion here. If we are talking about a potential population of 5 students who are out of luck because of the government's policy and the year they were born in, it could be quite different than if 500 students are experiencing this.

Naturally, if you are one of the five, it doesn't really make you feel much better that there are only five students affected.

Regards,

Kevin.l said...

Here are some links.

http://www.straitstimes.com/Latest+News/Singapore/STIStory_123950.html
http://www.singstat.gov.sg/papers/seminar/fertility.pdf
http://www.smu.edu.sg/news_room/smu_in_the_news/2006/sources/ST_20060528.pdf

In the newspaper article found in the SMU link, it states that in 1988, 52,957 as compared to 1987's 43,616 births.

So that's close to 10,000 more people.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Unless you can prove that all foreigners speak and write English worse than all Singaporeans, this statement is biased, and incorrect.


Not sure what the current practice is, but some years ago, the PRC students were supposed to come to Singapore six months before term starts,

so that they can do an intensive course in basic English.

Of course, the Indians have no such difficulty.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Heheh, and no, the PRC students are, of course, not required to pass GP, before getting admitted.

John said...

Can anyone give the official reason why we are so kindly sponsoring these foreigners?

Just curious.

Kevin.l said...

mr wang> wow that's fair. :S

Jimmy Mun said...

Why the government clamour for foreigners?

1) It improves the universities' rankings with some ranking agencies. But instead of attracting foreigners by their own merit, the unis try to buy foreigners to study here. Which is why the uni fees keep going up, because buying foreign students via scholarships is a costly affair.

2) The government has said it out loud a few times that they want to keep the racial ratio steady. Since one race is outbreeding the other two by a significant margin, it is no surprise that they are bringing in as many Chinese and Indians as they can find. Also notice how disproportionately few Indonesians are studying in the local unis, even though Indonesia is so much nearer and has a huge population.

3) The government despises Singaporeans. Having excessive Singaporean graduates make Singapore hard to govern. So the graduate proportion must be kept small, and kept busy chasing money.

shae said...

Annonymous above who asked the question regarding statistics of people who missed out on university this year, thank you!

I asked the same questions further up the comments, but nobody dealt with them. This is an emotional topic and I guess it's easier to just respond emotionally than rationally to matters.

Kevinl, I don't think the answer that there were many more births in 1988 compared to 1987 really solves the problem. What it just says is that 10,000 more babies were born in 1988.

In comparison with pre-2000, 2 universities have been establised since then - SIM and SMU. I am sure the establishment of these 2 universities have had the effect of increasing the number of places at university available for Singaporeans, quota or not.

In my opinion, I don't think that university education is a basic good and consequently, just because someone has obtained 2 A Level Passes and 2 AOs should be accorded a place at university as of right.

What do people mean when they say someone has qualified for university anyway? Do Harvard, NUS, NTU, SIM, SMU, University of Melbourne, University of Malaya and/or the Beijing University (just to name a few) all have the same qualification criteria?

Does getting a pass for 2 A Level subjects and 2 AOs mean that the student has automatically earned to right to be at said university? Are grades like A,B,E sufficient justification to demand a place at NUS?

In my opinion, A,B,E are very very borderline mediocre grades that could permit entry in a good year, and the student could easily be denied entry in a bad year.

This is not to say that the student with A,B,E is not intelligent and will not return in future with first class honours from an overseas university because everyone knows that the A Levels is not a perfect tool of assessment. Then again, neither is the SAT, or aptitude tests or whatever tests - all tests are imperfect. Until someone manages to devise a perfect system of assessment a student's merits and strengths, we will have to continue relying on the A Levels. As far as I know, the assessors are always constantly trying to refine the system. That's why students who have excelled in their extracurricular activities do get a place in a faculty ahead of another who has better grades.

I think what people have to acknowledge and come to terms with is that not everyone is destined to be a university graduate. Not everyone is born to study. I would expect someone like Mr Wang who has written so many articles on the different strengths and merits of different individuals to appreciate this. Not all successful people in the world have gone to university. Nor is to true that a university degree is a surefire way to success.

Anonymous said...

i have a friend from PRC, came here to take Phd with NTU allowance/scholarship. He has graduated and now he back in PRC. There is no bond if you wonder. And so I wonder why. Its a free education for them I guess.Anyway for over the years, i didn't really see many foreign student graduate here make a mark and contribute to Sg. At most, they are willing get a lower pay which is attractive.

Kevin.l said...

Shae,

Yeah I know, was only stating the numbers as facts not really a point in argument.

True, I agree, a Uni education doesn't equate to success. (I've got a diploma only and am currently pursuing a degree part-time at UniSIM)

However, the birthrate numbers do indicate a spike and subsequently a possible (yet not definite) increase in university applications by locals.

Note that ST reports "At NUS, 15,700 A level school leavers from the Dragon year cohort applied, an increase of about 2,200 from 13,500 in 2006." That would possibly be evidence to the effects of an increased in birthrates.

What would really be useful in the argument right now is information (population-wide) about grades and at what point do these really cut-off at(meaning to say, locals who don't get a place in Uni). Don't you think so?

Paul said...

I think that one issue that has not been addressed is the motivation for the local higher institutions to take in foreign students.

My belief and I hope that I am wrong is that this is rankings driven.

The THES (Times Higher Education Supplement) which is the only major university ranking to put NUS and NTU in the top 100 in the world, gives a heavy weightage to "reputation", then "international Students" and "international faculty".

I sincerely hope that we are not going the way of the schools which have dropped literature and biology to maintain their rankings.....

Anonymous said...

I would like to point out that not only singaporean pays tax. The foreign talents pay tax too. So the international students are not only funded by singaporeans.

If you agree to some oversea universities which believe that no deserving student should be deprived of a place due to financial constraints, why not our local universities too? Scholarship or Tuition fee, it is still trying to reduce the financial requirements of the capable international students (if they really are). What they should do is to increase the number of no-bond scholarships.

Some people talk about Qualifying students. But what is the qualifying standard? How do we determine this? If you adopt the point that last year, the cut-off is this, so this year anyone who obtain at least this grade should be admitted, then Aaron has rightly pointed out that this will make the standard of the input (students) stagnant.

But of course, as some others have pointed out, this does not necessarily mean that the output standard will not increase. There probably is a belief of a correlation between input standard and output standard. Having a better quality intake reduces the risk of having a lower output standard. This is risk management. Whether it is appropriate is debatable.

The output standard determines the value of the degree. Some people also ask why can't we just increase the university places? Increasing university places is not as straight forward as it seems. It involves the physical infrastructure, which you can probably build. But it also involves equipment, professors, etc. To get top notch equipment, you need money. To get top notch people, you might need more than just money. And this might not be easy. Where does the extra cost come from? Probably the tuition fee.

What if you compromise on quality to reduce cost? That might change the way people perceives the quality of the university. That said, what happens if you have so many graduates that the economy cannot support? Then the people might feel short changed. If 90% of the graduates cannot find a job, would you say that the certificate devalued?

Hence there is a limit to how fast the university can grow. It has to depend on the economy growth also.

Another point is... if you say 20% is too much. How about making it 10% or 5% or perhaps 0%? When will it stop?

Anonymous said...

Singaporeans are entitled to their rights to a university education. However, by signing a blank cheque to the pap government, they have given up the levers to ensure that the government make good on these rights. It is sad indeed that Singaporeans are being screwed by the government. If the report of Singaporeans with 4 A's and yet unable to get a place is true, then it is a good indication of the hard future ahead for Singaporeans to make a living in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

from this blog reading, it seems to me that universities places in singapore are in hot demand.

ironically there were not enough students to fill the available vacanies in UNSW Asia, to the extent that it has to close shop.

i guess that it must be due to the freely available education subsidies one gets to enjoy studying in local universities, regardless of citizenship.

Anonymous said...

To the UC Berkeley chap (and Aaron / Bart),

Let me explain how the situation in Singapore is different from that of the United States case, and how Singaporeans are discriminated against.

For example, at the undergraduate level at NUS, we keep 20% of our varsity places for Indian/PRC scholars. Everyone of these students get tuition waiver, guaranteed/preferential hostel room, and a monthly stipend.

There are many local Singaporeans at NUS who are equally smart (esp those from the USP/TDP program with equally competitive results - say, with 4 A-level distinctions, and Dean's lists at NUS). Mind you, there are a significant proportion of PRC scholars who are not even on the Dean's list.

However, few of us ever get similar treatment (tuition waiver + monthly stipend). And we usually have to work like a dog (in various ECAs) to get a room in the hostel (at least that used to be the case, before newer hostels like PGP are available).

Please point out an example of any U.S. university (whether private or state school) that discriminates its local in-state or out-of-state U.S. residents in such similar fashion.

Anonymous said...

"Another point is... if you say 20% is too much. How about making it 10% or 5% or perhaps 0%? When will it stop?"

yah and our point is ... if you say 20% is too little. How about making it 50% or 80% or perhaps 90%? when will it stop?

overall with the sticking issue of conscription in....tsk tsk there can and should nvr be 'fair and equal' for foreigners. It not the whole conscript system will just collapse

Anonymous said...

I will share a nice experience:

I obtain B. Eng with first class honors in the Dept of Electrical Engineering. Back then there were already tons of foreign students. Upon graduation, I naturally applied for admission to their SMA program (Singapore-MIT alliance). This program pays you a nice return airfare to MIT to take picture with MIT.

But they rejected me, but I do know they accept many foreigners for that program. In honesty, these alliances are a bait for foreigners to set foot here.

But appeal is no use, they give you one liner: oh we have strict criteria blah blah...

So, coming from a poor family, I ask myself Uncle Now Study Where ??

With some luck, I competed & enter the top private university in the USA for grad studies, with the help of kind folks outside Singapore.

A few years back, I met & chatted with a PRC student in the USA. He (1st degree not from NUS) graduated from that SMA program and is now a grad student in USA. Apparently, he worked in DSTA/DSO for 3 years upon graduation from SMA before coming to US. He said, 'i worked for the min...min..what'

Having dutifully served NS, I replied, `oh Mindef`.

All these A's at A-levels mean nothing lah, not even First Class Honors at NUS lah. Thanks Singapura and NUS for the experience!

PS: NUS, sometimes, I wonder how you might keep track of your FT beneficials who are in USA/Europe to pester them for donation? They don't get Tax Rebate what.

Anonymous said...

i have a sg friend, he too obtained a local 1st class honors in engineering some years ago.

despite that, he incidentally knew fts are offered funded scholarships for postgraduate learning at the expense of his unsuccessful application.

Anonymous said...

Someone say 20% of the slots at NUS going to foreigners...doesn't sound so bad since about 20% of the people living in Singapore are foreigners. Like a poster above said, a lot of foreigners are living in Singapore and they pay taxes too. I wonder how many of the foreigners in local universities are actually children of tax-paying Singapore foreign residents.

Anonymous said...

FAMILY MATTER PART 3
====================

"I live with my mother, my brother and a maid in a small 3-room HDB flat. My bro and I occupy 1 bedroom, and my mom the 2nd bedroom.

One day, the maid decides that we have no right to review or renew her contract every X years. Henceforth, she has the right to stay in the job forever! Our signature of her contract is just for formality and for show. The maid then increase her salary to 5 times more than her peers.

Then, without even consulting or informing us, this maid chase all 3 of us into 1 bedroom. She invite 2 outsiders to come stay in the 2nd bed room. So now we have 2/(3+2) * 100 = 20% outsiders in our flat, who share the toilet, the kitchen, the living room etc with my parents, bro and I -- all without our permission. In fact, we only know of the maid's decision when we see the 2 outsiders. And until now, we still dunno exactly why the maid did what she did!!!

The maid (who is now more like our boss) can only send 2 person to university. She sent my bro and the kid of those 2 outsider. I was left out.

My bro think there is nothing wrong that we are now cramped into 1 bedroom. He sees nothing wrong with the maid inviting these 20% outsiders to occupy our flat without our permission. Finally, he also see nothing wrong with the offspring of these 2 outsiders going to university since he argue that those 2 outsiders contribute to household income too. In fact, he thinks I have myself to blame for not studying harder than the son of those two outsiders."

I am f**king suay to have this kind of brother!

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