Sep 4, 2007

The 4th University And Other Simpler Options

ST Sep 2, 2007
Tony Tan on ways to expand varsity sector
By Sandra Davie

HERE'S one quick way to add university places: expand the intakes of the three universities next year.

The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University could each add 200 to 250 places while the Singapore Management University could enrol another 400 to 600 students.

That would bump up figures by about 800 to 1,000 places, and lessen the worry parents and students have of demand outstripping supply, said ex-Cabinet minister Dr Tony Tan, now advising a committee on the expansion of the tertiary sector.

But how to achieve Singapore's new target to raise the proportion of university places to 30 per cent of each cohort by 2015?

One approach, said Dr Tan, would be to re-consider the idea of having a fourth university, mooted by a 2002 government committee.

Another would be to consider a more recent suggestion to have multi-campuses affiliated to the present three universities.

He had in mind three campuses: on health science-related disciplines, liberal arts with a focus on financial services, and engineering and technology.

But whichever option picked, more polytechnic graduates should be helped to obtain a degree.
Well, there is another option. Tertiary education in Singapore has always been heavily subsidised by taxpayers' money. So instead of using that money to set up a new university or new campuses (which would involve high start-up and fixed costs), simply give some of that taxpayers' money to Singaporeans, in the form of financial aid. Help them finance their overseas tertiary education. Say, up to $12,000 per year.

Naturally, we'd have to build in some control measures. For example, we could specify a list of 30 overseas universities of reasonable repute. To get your $12,000 per year, you'd have to get a place in one of these 30 universities (and not just any lousy school).

To avoid fraud and prevent misuse of funds, the government could disburse the funds when you submit documentary evidence of what you need the funds for. For example, let's say that the university gives you an invoice for next semester's fees. You then submit the invoice to the government. The government pays the money directly to the university.

We can build in some "need" criteria into the scheme. For example, depending on the annual income of your family, you may or may not qualify for the $12,000. Or you may qualify for a lesser or greater sum.

To make sure that Singapore, as a state, gets something out of this, the financial aid recipients would have to sign an agreement to say that after graduation, they will return to work in Singapore for at least three years. They can work for any employer they choose, as long as the employer is based in Singapore.

Good deal? Too good to be true? But this is essentially the same deal that we give to the foreign students taking up places in NUS, NTU and SMU. Why should we shortchange our own citizens?

Oh, but this is Singapore.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good idea MWSS. Off my head, I think the average cost per year for the non-specialist courses are around S$25,000 and the subsidised rate is about $6,600 or there about. So, maybe we can up the amount to $20,000 per student who wants to study in overseas universities which are on the "approved" list. I don't think there is a means test or needs assessment - all Singapore citizens pay the subsidised rate.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi wang,
logical/prudent/simple solution.
But...
the govt probably will not bite, as they are control freaks and ensuring the undergrads are schooled in a "Singaporean" environment so that they become "good" "Singaporeans" is probably an un-written part of tertiary education in Singapore.
Hence, lecturers who deviate from political and social orthodoxy are promptly identified and booted out before you can utter "LKY".
Eg C. Lingle and some other notorious academics.

Let's hope I am wrong and the Minister takes the bait. Tharman is sometimes unpredictable and may surprise everyone.

Dr.Huang

thor666 said...

It wouldn't make sense from the government's viewpoint if they wanted to build an education hub here. But yes, it could be a good transition measure since it takes time for the 4th university to be set up.

BACTS said...

Sound like a good idea, but I seriously don't believe it is going to happen, by the way our minister manage the reliance of subsidy on 'C' class bed in our hospital. On paper, the money used to build campus would be consider well spend due to the future return as compare to money giving away, unless the graduates is of justifyable value like a scholar.

Anonymous said...

good post, it makes me weep for my countrymen.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant idea!

However I seriously doubt our overly-suspicious MIW will ever trust these grads to be loyal citizens as they will be more exposed to the open democratic concepts prevalent in foreign universities.

And with such criteria to comply, how will our MIW be able to explain on what criteria would they be sending off their elitist offspring to study on govt scholarships.

It will never be that simple as "you scratch my back, I scratch yours".

abc said...

There's a very simple reason why this won't work. If (the majority of)these people can't get into a local university, will they get into a reputable university? The government is giving Singaporeans what they want - too bad that it was never a good idea in the first place.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Sure they can. Unlike local universities in Singapore, many overseas universities have no inherent bias or prejudice against applicants with polytechnic diplomas.

blacktag said...

I'm sure the subsidy on paper for our university education is translated a little differently into cash. This idea has been raised many times over idle coffee and chatter by students in Kent Ridge for twenty years.

abc said...

That's why I said "the majority". That has nothing to do with an inherent bias against polytechnic students, some of whom are clearly very outstanding. If you get a 2.9 GPA in a Singaporean polytechnic, you aren't exactly the top of your class, but you will easily make it to an lower level university overseas if you have the cash to burn. Will this university be within this top 30 list? The idea of a 4th university is to allow these people who otherwise would not qualify an opportunity to attend a university in Singapore; it's not to attract those who already have the capability to go to a top overseas university.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Errr, you may have misread my post. I didn't propose a list comprising the world's top 30 universities. I proposed a list of 30 universities of reasonable repute. It's more a case of weeding out the really bad universities, rather than of including the very best universities.

abc said...

I understand the rationale in that case.

But it now begs a further question: why not spend the money on subsidising those who do get into top overseas universities then? Subsidising students to attend overseas universities just creates many more problems; it's more than just government suspicion about "democratic" universities.

Anonymous said...

i just recently discovered your blog and it has provided a lot of insightful views thank you for these!

and yes to beat the rat race in singapore it needs more than just overseas education. i think we need a change in mindset on what's conasidered a good education or a bad education

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang,

Yours is the most logical scheme, but it will make their Overseas Scholarship Scams championed by the You-know-all looks downright subclass. You think they will allow that? The Elitists need to feel good within their own gang. They will never permit the Peasants and Ordinary Singaporeans to take that route.

Let's face it. The NUS/NTU scholarship scheme is to trap people from developing countries in this Island. One is trap, the other is a 'make them feel good' scheme. How to equalize these two?

Ordinary Deserving Singaporeans never have it easy. Never.

Fox said...

Mr Wang,

There are some problems with your proposal even if we were to ignore the political implications.

Consider the two options:
1. 10,000 subsidized places for local students in local universities.
2. 10,000 subsidized places for local students in local universities + another 2,000 places for local students in 30 overseas universities of repute.

Suppose the government implements option 2, instead of option 1, which is the current policy. How will you allocate the 2,000 subsidized places in the 30 overseas universities? Although the extra 2,000 places are meant to help polytechnic students who are unable to get into local universities, it wouldn't be fair just to allocate those places to polytechnic students or not allow A-level students to compete for these places. So, in fairness, you will have to include A-level applicants for the overseas places.

Suppose we include the likes of Imperial College, UNSW, University of Sydney, etc. These places will also be very attractive to the better A-level applicants, more so than NUS, NTU and SMU. What is going to happen is that many of the best students - A-level and polytechnic - who were originally deterred by the high cost of attending such universities, will apply to study at these places now that the fees are lower and will take up the places meant to help polytechnic students who are unable to get a place in local universities.

Our local universities will scream bloody murder since such a measure will strip them of their cost advantage in attracting local students and deprive them of many of their better students.

dawnL said...

it isn't true that if u get 'lousy' grades that dont entitle u to a place in the 3 local unis and it automatically means u can't get into a good uni overseas. Some people simply mature later, and esp for the guys, after completing army, they may be armed with a whole new mindset towards educationa and doing well.

take my brother for eg., he was from a jc, scored something along the line of b,c,d with no S papers. did badly for his AO chinese. didnt manage to get a place in local uni(which at that time didnt comprise of SMU). he applied for purdue university in U.S, and was accepted after numerous essay writings and aptitude tests.

this is the difference between overseas unis and spore unis. they dont look at result ALONE. rather, they give people a chance to show what they're worth away from the examinations.

aside from poly grads whom i understand face great difficulty getting into local unis, how abt the jc grads then? do they face less challenges? i think not. i have friends getting grades like a,b,c and failing to get into the course of their choice. i'm not talking about applying to the elite courses like medicine or law, i'm talking about business and accountancy. more often than not, these rejected candidates are forced choose between settling for a less popular course (like civil engine and real estate) or simply taking a loan and going overseas.

with a poly cert, one can get a job much easier than those with only the jc cert. shouldnt the govt address this issue as well?

Mr Wang Says So said...

The first issue is whether the government is agreeable to use money to help Singaporeans finance their overseas tertiary education.

It's either a "yes" or a "no". The rest are details.

1. It may be, for instance, that you could have a system which will allocate x% of financial aid each year to poly grads, and (100-x)% to the A-levels.

2. Or you could have a system whereby the govt will give you $Z dollars per year at an overseas university A, only if you demonstrated that you had also applied for an equivalent or similar course at a local univ (eg NUS, NTU, SMU) and failed to get in, but were able to get a place at University A (ie the government helps you to study overseas, if you show clearly that you weren't able to study locally).

3. The competing PSC scholarship system is not, in my opinion, a good idea anyway. But if there is a need to maintain disparity between financial aid and PSC scholarship and project the latter as "superior", well, basically the latter should be much more generous, money-wise.

Muakos said...

Mr Wang, being a total budget whore that I am, I will ask just 1 question.

Money from where?

Question is not for you (with full respect), but for the MIWs.

I can already sense the "no" coming from all over the place.

Maybe they see the current price tag bigger than the ROI later in years. Or maybe, it'll soon be "Singaporean" to share, unless you are MIW class. So 10% increase in GST for (again not pointed at you) Mr Wang's suggestion.

Kaffein said...

What?!! How dare you suggest even such an idea! Financial funding for local citizens? You must be dreaming, Mr Wang.

Remember you are in Singapore and know your place here, keep in the line. If we give such 'freebies', what will happen to the elite and ministers' kids who study overseas? Wouldn't that 'downgrade' their scholarships and accreditations?

These foreign students are specially selected through the stringent measures to study in Singapore. MOE has strict guidelines and procedures that these student not only graduate, but they will contribute to the society. At your expense, to say the least.

You must be Singapore dreamin'.

---
To cut the satirical crap aside, I totally agree with you. The increase of the no. of intakes doesn't make it easier for locals. But letting them study overseas will open their eyes and minds to different lifestyle, study-work culture and mindset.

But then we wouldn't want them to have a change in mindset or exposure them to undesirable way of thinking, would we? *chuckles*

However we can all shelf this idea. No minister/representative will dare to suggest such a thing in parliament.

Shortchanged. Yeap, one of which is NS.

Kaffein said...

What?!! How dare you suggest even such an idea! Financial funding for local citizens? You must be dreaming, Mr Wang.

Remember you are in Singapore and know your place here, keep in the line. If we give such 'freebies', what will happen to the elite and ministers' kids who study overseas? Wouldn't that 'downgrade' their scholarships and accreditations?

These foreign students are specially selected through the stringent measures to study in Singapore. MOE has strict guidelines and procedures that these student not only graduate, but they will contribute to the society. At your expense, to say the least.

You must be Singapore dreamin'.

---
To cut the satirical crap aside, I totally agree with you. The increase of the no. of intakes doesn't make it easier for locals. But letting them study overseas will open their eyes and minds to different lifestyle, study-work culture and mindset.

But then we wouldn't want them to have a change in mindset or exposure them to undesirable way of thinking, would we? *chuckles*

However we can all shelf this idea. No minister/representative will dare to suggest such a thing in parliament.

Shortchanged. Yeah, one of the gripes is NS.

twasher said...

There is also the simple fact that a lot of these people who get the chance to study overseas will not return to Singapore after they graduate.

Hence bonded scholarships.

Anonymous said...

In reality there are already more opportunities to get a degree in Singapore than just from the current institutions -- i.e. private institutions and correspondence courses.

Some of these are already offered by top institutions such as Durham University reputed to be the third best in UK.

So you see there is really no need for Singaporean to go abroad. But, as ever, why are these avenues not considered seriously?

It boils down to prejudice. Plus it does not help that the Government as a big employer, choose to discriminate against such graduates.

My sense as an ex-employer myself is that many so call graduates of the NUS and NTU, I was not around when SMU was established so can't comment, were pretty crap anyway. In fact the grads from private and correspondence institutions are on par.

Even when I was looking for in-house legal counsel, I found the only supply from NUS, pertty wanting. Some can't even speak properly or have the capability to translate complex and abstract legal terms to as layman as possible. Several times, I have found that grads from correspondence law institution just as capable but unfortunately cannot be officially employed as legal counsel.

So you see the problem of lack of university places can be easily solved by reducing prejudice and, in fact, I am against so called approval list.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Because spending money on fixed assets (such as additional university buildings) allows us to resuse it several times whereas giving out grants to help people study overseas is a one time expenditure with limited guarantee that they will come back and contribute.

We should not equalize the foreign student advantage by "topping up" advantages for local students, but substract from the foreign student privileges instead.

Your suggestion only adds to additional tax burden as pointed out be someone here and does not solve the foreign student problem. Furthermore, it is highly suseptible to abuse.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Because spending money on fixed assets (such as additional university buildings) allows us to resuse it several times whereas giving out grants to help people study overseas is a one time expenditure with limited guarantee that they will come back and contribute.

We should not equalize the foreign student advantage by "topping up" advantages for local students, but substract from the foreign student privileges instead.

Your suggestion only adds to additional tax burden as pointed out be someone here and does not solve the foreign student problem. Furthermore, it is highly suseptible to abuse.

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Mr Wang Says So said...

"Because spending money on fixed assets (such as additional university buildings) allows us to resuse it several times ..."

The concern expressed by some people is that Singapore may not actually have a long-term need for a 4th university. In other words, you may spend a lot of money constructing something which isn't consistently needed, but only in good times when it is perceived that the economy will need or can sustain more graduates.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Several times, I have found that grads from correspondence law institution just as capable but unfortunately cannot be officially employed as legal counsel."

Actually they can. Or rather, regulatory and licensing issues would not stand in your way. You may have your own internal recruitment policies etc I suppose.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"a lot of these people who get the chance to study overseas will not return to Singapore after they graduate."

As mentioned, the control mechanism is the 3-year bond.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Money from where?"

Money from the $200 million or so that would be needed just to buy the empty pieces of land needed for a 4th university, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Who can tell the future? Heard of adaptive reuse of buildings? At worse, it is still a more reliable investment than on people who are even more unpredictable.

Anonymous said...

they are probably taking over the shit left behind by UNSW

jc said...

The answer is emphatically - no.
Why?
Because a certain percentage of a cohort (22%?) is targeted/budgeted to be graduates - in the name of quality control.

One only has to align one's chain of thoughts with policy to understand the outcome.

Remember that policy comes before thinking, because the policy is the result of much thought.

Then again, this blog is about possibilities, not about the status quo....

Anonymous said...

after all the hype over the years about an education hub, & what you see are UNSWasia fiasco, cheating foreigners schools, fluffs....
really uniquely singapore is really an education HYPE, never a hub.

Why all this ballyhoo, when the deserving locals are finding a hard time entering the existing ones, which are flooded by foreigners? Most departments are weaklings compared to Korean, HK ones and still feel good with the Times ranking...hahahahahahahahahahaha...wake up recruits!!

Anonymous said...

Exactly, and how "altruistic" it sounds - it's for our students. Aww.

Anonymous said...

Mr Wang in one of your reply to a comment:

"Several times, I have found that grads from correspondence law institution just as capable but unfortunately cannot be officially employed as legal counsel."

You said:

Actually they can. Or rather, regulatory and licensing issues would not stand in your way. You may have your own internal recruitment policies etc I suppose.

I am currently studying Engineering but I really wanted to study Law but I can't get to NUS Law but I was rejected.

So what you are saying is if I took a correspondence law course and after I graduate I could apply to be a lawyer?

If so this will be good news for me because I don't have, nor can I afford, to go overseas to study.

Anonymous said...

It's a good idea....to help people that can't get into NUS, NTU and SMU.

Question is not whether garmen got $ or where the $ come from. Question is whether the garmen wana spend on us peasants.

Common, MIW even make noise and debate on $30 increase in PA, but when comes to million $ salary increases, it's as smooth as butter......

Anonymous said...

I only see 1 reason that MIW will say no. And the reason is if they accept this proposal, then they will be admitting that there are actually problems with local Uni selection on students and the number in intakes.....which so far, knowing how thick their skin is, they have refuse to admit.

Anonymous said...

what difference would 12,000 a year make, when it costs 300,000 to study in the US?

Anonymous said...

After all these debates over the 4th university, i wonder what would be the value of UniSIM after the 4th or 5th publicly-funded university is set up. UniSIM is after all a local university, not in the publicly-funded sense though. UniSIM and SIM with their expertise could be expanded into the 4th publicly-funded university to encompass all the changes and ideals the government wishes to be a niche university for both adult learners and Alevels/polytechnic graduates. Just like in 2000, the government gave SIM the authority to start SMU (as read from the press releases from that time, though something happened along the way and SIM was out of the picture).

Either way, UniSIM should be taken in the consideration too and the students there too deserve the support of society and the government. Otherwise UniSIM degrees would just be a mere piece of paper. From my own current understanding of society, UniSIM is just viewed as an inferior university for people who can't make it to the current 3 universities.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"what difference would 12,000 a year make, when it costs 300,000 to study in the US?"

So revise the $12,000 figure upwards, lor.

Farooq said...

Good suggestion though I can see why the govt. will not provide such a facility. First off, there's a large chance that these graduates will simply not return back to Singapore (unless the govt. implements some sort of a bond). Second, it wouldn't make sense to mandate education outside the country when you can't guarantee the type of education you're likely to get. Could there be something that goes against national interests?

numbernine said...

"So revise the $12,000 figure upwards, lor."

Therein lies the problem: you're going to restrict students to going to reputable universities, the very same ones for which $12000 a year wouldn't be any significant as a subsidy.

The second problem with your approach is that the government intends to expand the cohort going to university to 30% of each cohort, and those extra people wouldn't likely be those who would get into your list of 30 universities. You could finance the best of the cohort to go to foreign universities, but is that really a good idea? And is discouraging them from attending our local universities also a good idea?

Your ideas seem to assume that the quality of our universities, or the quality of the people going into our universities don't seem to matter. Is that true?

Watermelon Man said...

Well, I think that having more places for our own students is simply a pleasant side effect of spending money to build more universities.

To use that money to actually assist our students to gain an overseas education would be counter to The Real Objective, which is to be an Education Hub Brand Name, which would draw in foreign students and their cash.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"First off, there's a large chance that these graduates will simply not return back to Singapore (unless the govt. implements some sort of a bond)."

Yes, as I had mentioned in my post.

"Second, it wouldn't make sense to mandate education outside the country when you can't guarantee the type of education you're likely to get."

Yes, as I point in my post, you could have a list of approved institutions, and if that wasn't enough, the S'pore government can also have a list of approved courses within the approved institutions. And if that still wasn't sufficient, the government can do a periodic review of these lists.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Therein lies the problem: you're going to restrict students to going to reputable universities, the very same ones for which $12000 a year wouldn't be any significant as a subsidy."

So adjust the list.

"The second problem with your approach is that the government intends to expand the cohort going to university to 30% of each cohort, and those extra people wouldn't likely be those who would get into your list of 30 universities."

Why? Pls see my comment - September 4, 2007 10:36 PM.

"You could finance the best of the cohort to go to foreign universities, but is that really a good idea?"

That isn't what I had in mind - we already have the PSC scholarship scheme available to execute that bad idea.

See my comment at September 5, 2007 7:47 AM, especially Point 2.

"And is discouraging them from attending our local universities also a good idea"?

I was responding to the government's view that we have an insufficient number of university places locally.

kuay teow man said...

Watermelon man, wake up your idea.

Show me the news (preferably news from foreign source) that Singapore is an education hub.

What's a hype, don't call it a HUB.

numbernine said...

Hmm... if subsidising people to go into good universities overseas is a bad idea, I would suppose that subsidising people to go into mediocre universities is an even worse idea.

And in a way it also doesn't make any sense: if you're good enough, you enter NUS/NTU/SMU and you're on your own, and if you're not good enough, you get $12000 to go see the world. Damn I'd want to sleep over my "A" levels. I'd want to screw up my own admission so that I don't get into NUS.

And the local students over at one of your 30 universities would be looking at you and saying, "my education is subsidised (which is true otherwise the tuition wouldn't be cheap enough for it to be on the list of 30) and why are we subsidising foreigners?"

If you pay $12000 towards subsidising a student, he gets educated, and well maybe good for him, see how much he'll contribute to society. But if you pay $12000 towards a local U, there will be plenty of add on effects, tie ups with industry, it's good for Singapore's status as an education centre, maybe we might attract overseas students who may pay $6000 (for every $12000 you contribute) to study here. That is if you trust that things will work out.

As for expanding enrollment for the existing universities, I don't know if you want to squeeze too many people into a crowded university and compromise the quality of the education. And naturally I wouldn't want the 4th uni to be considered to be a lower tier school (otherwise it'd be UNSW all over again.) Not happy with your current universities? Start a new one from scratch. Too many places at your new university during a lean year? Bring in more foreigners or scale down the department budgets.

I basically don't see anything wrong with the government's proposal.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Hmm... if subsidising people to go into good universities overseas is a bad idea, I would suppose that subsidising people to go into mediocre universities is an even worse idea."

So adjust your list of universities.

"And in a way it also doesn't make any sense: if you're good enough, you enter NUS/NTU/SMU and you're on your own, and if you're not good enough, you get $12000 to go see the world"

From the perspective of the state, you simply want to have x number of Singaporeans have a university education, and you are prepared to subsidise $y per Singaporean; and which university they spend $y at should be of no concern as long as the quality of education is satisfactory and the cost is capped at $y.

It may also well be the case that we could give the subsidy to the most meritorious students, and if the most meritorious students choose to go overseas instead of NUS, NTU, well, so be it. NUS & NTU aspire to be world-class, let them compete with overseas universities for S'porean students then.

"And the local students over at one of your 30 universities would be looking at you and saying, "my education is subsidised (which is true otherwise the tuition wouldn't be cheap enough for it to be on the list of 30) and why are we subsidising foreigners?""

You may not have realised it, but offering

This question - why are we subsidising foreigners - exists whether or not we subsidise S'poreans' overseas education or not. It is an important question but there are no signs that the govt is remotely interested in reviewing the current position.

"If you pay $12000 towards subsidising a student, he gets educated, and well maybe good for him, see how much he'll contribute to society. But if you pay $12000 towards a local U, there will be plenty of add on effects, tie ups with industry, it's good for Singapore's status as an education centre, maybe we might attract overseas students who may pay $6000 (for every $12000 you contribute) to study here."

You may not have realised it, but the idea of encouraging S'poreans to go overseas in larger numbers for tertiary reasons can also have strategic implications.

Eg not many S'poreans would be keen to go to Chinese universities or the Indian Institutes of Technology. But if you place these on the approved list and wave $X as subsidy, some S'poreans would go. And in the long run, we build a pool of young Singaporeans who are comfortable and familiar with life in the world's two fastest-growing major economies.

"I basically don't see anything wrong with the government's proposal."

Sure, it may work. Especially if you take the view that the sudden closure of the brand-new UNSW was simply a bad mistake and in fact there is enough demand in Singapore for tertiary education to sustain a full-fledged 4th university.

numbernine said...

Now there are some things about universities. Let's do the economics: they can either be good, or cheap, or easy to get into. We've already agreed: they can't be too expensive, otherwise it doesn't make sense, your $12000 is a drop in the ocean, it will be like subsidising people to make babies, it has never worked and never will.

They should also be of a certain standard: otherwise you might as well build your own uni.

You brought up unis in China and India which is an interesting idea, but it's going to be hell to get Singaporeans into IIT (we know this is more difficult to get into than MIT.)

It's going to be a real hard sell for people. One wonders what you'd have to pay people to want to go to Qinghua.

$12000 will not get you anywhere near the top 30 US universities anyway, so let's not talk about it. How many Singaporeans are they going to let in anyway?

Let's not forget that an overseas education is not easily undertaken. In terms of relocation it is economically inefficient. Unless a uni was so compellingly good, or unless all local unis reject you, or your folks are loaded, I don't see that happening, and I certainly don't see this happening on a massive scale. (ie 5-10% of cohort.) The few people you get into this system are good for strategic purposes, but for strategic purposes you only need a few.

So we need 2 lists: a list of universities which are cheap enough, good enough, and accessible (I'm talking admissions) enough. Also a list of students who'd want to go to these unis for $12000. My contention is that you're not going to find either list as long as you'd like. You're better off building a university.

If you want to talk about precedent, my gut feel is that UNSW failed primarily because the brand name wasn't strong enough, they couldn't get the students they wanted. A more relevant precedent is SMU, which although we don't really know how successful it is, is not a failure like UNSW. And its branding is definitely stronger, which is important because branding means jobs, which is very important.

Anyway you misunderstood my question about subsidising foreigners. I'm talking about foreign universities subsidising Singaporeans. A Singaporean goes to a state uni in the US - he's being subsidised by the US govt. (Let's assume that a uni education costing a reasonable sum of money is bound to be subsidised by the host country) Are they going to allow that? And if 2 countries subsidise him, who's going to get him when he graduates?

If Singapore builds a university, I get tie ups with industry, defence, professors, world renown, I can suck in talent from all over. If I subsidise people to go overseas, I get a few graduates, many of whom are likely to up and leave. I'd definitely prefer the former.

aha here i am said...

Mr Wang, I think the fundamental is still the end of the road.

Can EDB provide the jobs? Can these jobs pay increasing salaries annually to match our dear leaders' ever increasing pay and public expenditure, hence GST, fare hikes, COE, ERP, electricity price hikes, water price hikes, etc, etc.

If not, gaining more graduates, but letting in more foriegners to cheapen the market, does not solve the issue of the elusive retirement and insufficient CPF despite wonderful helicopter vision and 10 year planning of ultimate brains named scholars.

Fox said...

numbernine:

A Singaporean goes to a state uni in the US - he's being subsidised by the US govt.

No no no. State universities in the US do NOT subsidize international undergraduate students.

Mr Wang Says So said...

$12,000 is just a figure. It is always adjustable. I am sketching only the main principle in my post.

It may well be that you give either a greater or lesser sum, depending on a whole range of factors such as:

1. applicant's household income

2. whether applicant is pursuing a course in a discipline for which S'pore govt feels that the economy needs more skilled people

3. the specific country where the applicant wants to go (the cost of living being higher in some countries than others)

4. amount of subsidy that the student has already consumed in his local education so far

5. amount of tuition fees for that specific course in the specific university

6. whether the applicant had already tried and failed to get a place in an equivalent course in the local universities

7. whether the applicant is in receipt of any other financial aid from any source

numbernine said...

Singaporean students pay full tuition to study in state universities. But state universities are funded in part by the government. Therefore even when you're paying full tuition, it doesn't entirely cover the cost of your education. In that way every student in a state uni is funded by the government.

Ephraim Loy said...

Actually I just thinking if additional places will sort of spoil the equilibrium of the workforce. If we increase the number of places just because many people can't get in without careful considerations, what will happen when there are not enough jobs in the market after graduation. Supply not equal to demand.

Maybe there are already some exisiting universities with a buliding and the Government decides to extend the scheme to this/these universities. In this way there will be no additional land, buliding cost etc and no repeat of the UNSW case.