jump to navigation

RE Clarifications on University Admission July 18, 2007

Posted by Ned Stark in Uncategorized.

The Minister of State for Education Mr Gan Kim Yong has recently attempted to reassure locals that locals do not lose out when it comes to University Education. This comes on the heels of a certain dissatisfaction from the ground regarding admission into university. However while all appears well on the surface, Ned feels that there are certain issues which regretably have not been discussed. (Perhaps they were too busy trying to hantam Sylvia Lim?)

Lucky Tan and Sze Hian have both analysed the proportion of foreigners in the local universities and from their posts it can be seen that there is evidently a certain discrepancy. If only 4.3 percent of the foreigners who applied are given places than how can they constitute 20 percent of the student population? Of course if one looks at the statement:

Half of them – 14,000 – were offered places. In contrast, out of 23,000 foreigners who applied, only 987 – or 4 per cent – got the nod.

It can be inferred that this 4 percent refers only to the undergraduates and makes no mention of postgraduate students. And of course there is the question, did giving 987 places to these foreign students result in the loss of place to a Singaporean student of equal calibre but was admitted on a different criteria? Furthermore what is the definition of the applicants? Are foreign scholars considered applicants?

Furthermore, this question of foreigners begets a host of issues which none of the powers that be has addressed, that of foreigners using Singapore as a stepping stone, a carpark. Bear in mind that it is known for a fact that the government does provide subsidies which essentially demolishes any financial barrier to studying in Singapore. While most locals have to rely on bank loans, and then spend some time paying back the loans (and notwithstanding the use of the term interest free the loans are only interest in so far as the person is a student, the instant the person graduates it aint interest free any more), the foreigners, need not worry. Oh and while it is undeniably true that foreigners are required to work in Singapore, firstly they could work and then run away, or they could run away without even working in the first place. Thus the money, for lack of a better word, invested in them is kinda wasted.

Of course Ned must restate again, he is not against foreigners studying in the university. He is however concerned at the apparent generosity of the government towards them vis a vis the locals. I daresay that many Singaporeans who were accepted but did not at the end take up studies in overseas universities do wish that the overseas countries would take a leaf out of the Singapore government’s book and be kinder to them; I know, because I was one of them. If UK and US universities can continue to draw students from all over the globe despite their governments not being generous to foreignors then why can’t our local universities do the same? Are the local universities in anyway inferior? I sure hope not, given the fact that our universities are said to be first class.

Besides that, there is also the issue of differing standards in university application, whether foreigners do get it easier than locals or not. Which is rather sad if the above is true, I guess it could be added under one of my old posts entitled The Irony that is this Country, where foreigners are well treated by the government while locals despite having to sacrifice career time and the prime time of their youth to defend the country are decried as whiners and told to bugger off. But of course it could be a nonsensical conspiracy and Ned does not wish to be hounded for propagating “conspiracy theories” so he will not say further on this issue.

 * With regards to the Constitutional Amendment, I was rather disappointed, but unsurprised by the way Sylvia was hantamed. But Molly Meek has done an excellent write up on the issue and thus there is nothing else to say, in my opinion.

**Apparently Mr Gan Kim Yong made a mistake. Foreignors do make up 20 percent of the intake in our universities.



1. Marc - July 19, 2007

Our universities are plain delusional in thinking they are world class. Let them start charging higher fees, cut all the subsidies and scholarships and see how many foreign students would still continue to apply.

2. Singaporeen - July 19, 2007


Well it is a bit chicken and egg. Without any subsidy & scholarship, top students from China would rather be in Tsinghua or the India (Bombay?) Institute of Tech. so we have to offer the carrot.

For Singaporeans, like MM Lee said 80% are stuck in S’pore so they will be around no matter how they are treated.

3. theonlinecitizen - July 19, 2007

Hi Ned,

You might wanna take a look at the CNA report whereby the MOE has corrected the figure of 4.3%. They now say it’s close to 20%. However, we still do not if the new number is true.

Close to 20% of foreign students who apply for local universities get in

Notice how the report totally avoids mentioning the minister who gave the wrong numbers.

Minister of State for Education Gan Kim Yong.


4. Ned Stark - July 19, 2007

Thanks Andrew, I have made a slight update to reflect the above.

5. scb - July 20, 2007

Common, we all, including ministers make mistakes, it’s just a question of honest mistake or not.

6. anon - July 21, 2007

millions are not paid for making honest mistakes….

7. Education Minister states that 4.3% of foreign students who apply to local universities were given places when actual number is closer to 20% « Preparing for the Transition - July 23, 2007

[…]  https://nedstark.wordpress.com/2007/07/18/re-clarifications-on-university-admission/ […]

8. j@x - July 24, 2007

From what I understand, the correction was made by a representative from the MOE, clarifying that the figure of 4.3% was actually false. There are a few observations and opinions I have regarding this issue:

1) If the minister of state for education quoted a different statistic (albeit a wrong one) from MOE, does that mean that he failed to consult MOE regarding the statistic? If so, where did he get his numbers from?

2) (To scb) A minister quoting a wrong statistic and using that statistic to justify a contentious issue is not merely making a mistake. Its called deceit. It is comparable to a CEO quoting erroneous statistic on company performance to convince board members on the health of the company. (And imagine the reaction if the CFO quotes a different statistic to “correct” the CEO at the next board meeting)

3) Less than a thousand foreign students in NUS, NTU & SMU combined? Come’on man. Anyone who has been to university or anyone with a logical mind would question that statistic. If that did not prompt the minister or his aides to verify their numbers, it clearly shows that they are out of touch with the issues on the ground. Clearly, it was never an issue on their radar as well.

9. scb - July 27, 2007

Right Sir, ignorance is no excuse in law. I apologize for the earlier post. A mistake is a mistake , honest, dishonest and otherwise. Since ignorance is no excuse, mistake must be looked into and appropriate action be taken. Let’s see how the Issue will be dealt with, regards.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: