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The Pains of a Tertiary Education June 12, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.
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Recently, there were several letters to the ST forum talking about the intense competition for university places. In fact I daresay that the “climax” came when Ong Tong It said that Universities should give locals priority. This has prompted three posts; Aaron and Bart who believe that such a policy is not viable; Mr Wang who believes that such a policy is fair.

Actually, a closer look at the posts would reveal that both, for lack of a better word, sides, have a point. A rigourous attempt to enforce a quota in local universities could result in a situation whereby standards fall. As said earlier, Ned Stark is not against competition and diversity in anyway. Having some foreigners will make life abit more exciting and the exposure to people with a different way of life will be an enriching experience. Furthermore, the lack of competition gives rise to a few ills; just look at the public transport hikes, the impending increase in Starhub subscription fees, and if you are brave enough, Singapore’s political system.

However, Ned must state that he shares Mr Wang’s concern especially with regards to the foreign influx into Singapore, as can be seen with the mad increase in property prices, among other things. With regards to University admissions, it is ok if the foreigner comes in based on his own merit and if he manages to win a university scholarship on his own merit.  What is of concern is if the government is actively spending money on the foreigner, and based on anecdotal evidence there is not guarantee whatsoever that the foreigner will decide to return the favour to Singapore; he could, in Aaron’s words, be using Singapore as a “parking lot“. It is rather disheartening if that is the case; as the saying goes, a prophet is never welcome in his own town. In this case, if the above is true, then it appears that the authorities are more concerned with getting foreign talent rather than nurturing the locals. Before anyone start calling for Ned’s head to roll by virtue of him being populist and all, one ought to take a look at the UK, US and Australian universities. Yes they do take in foreigners but in so far as the foreigners can pay for their own education either by PSC MOE( Papa Say Can Mother Oso Encourage), bursary, scholarships, and so on. It appears that the Singapore government is, in that regard, more generous.

Therefore, what has happened in this instance is that people have muddled up two issues; namely the criteria for University Admissions and the government’s attempts to foster foreigners in the local institutions. However if there is indeed a correlation between the recent pains of tertiary education and the rise in property prices, then there is a cause for concern. But before anyone starts to call for anyone to be burnt as a white ninja or black ninja, it is only prudent to look carefully before you shoot (your mouth). 

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Comments»

1. yh - June 12, 2007

Oh, diversity? Nope, many of the foreign students in local unis are too self-absorbed, they study in their own clusters, hiding in halls out-of-sight to local students.
And it’s a nightmare trying to do projects with them, with their frequent “disappearing acts” and sub-standard english.

2. yh - June 12, 2007

I am an Economics major and still do not understand how FT improve our lives.
According to Labor Economics theory, FT onli enhance earnings of local wages, when FT is complementary to local workers. However, most believe that FT in s’pore are substitutes for local workers, rather than complementary workers, therefore the presence of FT depress our wages. By complementary, i mean, they possess skills that we do not have.
And can anyone explain what’s the point of importing them when they are young? If we subject them to our local education, they pick up the same skills as we local undergrads do, where’s the value-addedness or complementary qualities that they are supposed to provide us?

3. Ned Stark - June 12, 2007

Well as said earlier im ok if our unis operate the same way as those in UK. However my concern is if Singapore is actively trying to foster the foreign. And I agree with your point about the FT; that they should add value rather than substitute.

4. kevin.l - June 13, 2007

I really wonder sometimes, looking from another recent issue; UNSW Asia pullout, look how MOE/EDB have been handling it, so quiet and playing it down.

This begs the question: is the gahmen trying to appease and boot-lick foreigners at our expense? When locals rise up even just to voice our opinions, we get a good smacking.

Anyway, back to the main point, local kids if capable, should be given priority over a foreign kid who hasn’t proven his/her worth. That’s what our fathers worked for. We’re no longer a colony subjected to rule by colonial masters. So let’s act like it.


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