Six varsities more harm than good?
Aug 28, 2012
I attended the National Day Rally and was shocked that, with the two additional universities, the yearly intake of full-time students by 2020 will go up by 3,000, on top of increasing numbers in existing local universities.
As an undergraduate, I urge the Education Ministry to reconsider the decision, which would create a more competitive climate for undergraduates as the value of a degree diminishes.
Students would have to work harder to get a higher honours class, multiple internships and co-curricular activities, to secure a good job when they graduate.
We may end up like many Western countries where a first degree is no longer enough and students incur more fees for a master’s degree.
This would contradict national goals such as increasing birth rates, as people would have to delay marriage and the age they start work. And with an increasingly busy university schedule, students may not even have time to date.
Also, is this policy equitable? The academic entry requirements for SIM University and the Singapore Institute of Technology seem low, and many can get in because they have the means to afford it.
This may add to the existing inequality whereby richer students have the option of going abroad or to private universities if they cannot make it to local universities.
The move is also not in line with one of our core national values, meritocracy. With basic education for all, everyone now has a chance to prove themselves worthy of a place in university. We have a fair fight for the limited number of university places.
If university entry requirements here will be lowered, how would those with the mentality that if they strive to be one of the best, they can earn a place in university, feel or think?
A degree is not a right but a privilege for which one has to work hard. I hope that the Government will not make this accessible to just anyone who has the means to pay for it.
A final consideration is that, with increased competition and stress in our society, and if current undergraduates resent this policy, would our talented workers choose to work and live abroad instead?
It is important that, in an attempt to pacify one group, we do not sacrifice the interests and hard work of another.
In a nutshell, Ms Phneah believes the opening of 2 more universities, along with existing ones accepting more students, would lead to a deterioration of the value of degrees. Phneah believes that “If university entry requirements here [are] lowered”, degrees will become a dime a dozen, with students having to “work harder” to get “higher honours class”, “multiple internships” etc. to “secure a good job”.
Firstly, I see nothing wrong with chasing excellence. If the extra competition results in harder working students who gain more valuable work experiences and get higher honours class, what exactly is wrong with that? Far from diminishing in value, employers worldwide would be thrilled with such accomplished and well-prepared graduates produced locally.
Furthermore, I believe Phneah cheapens employers’ ability to discern degrees from a reputable and well-accomplished varsity from a private one. (This is not to say students receive sub-standard education, or are any less able than students in NUS or NTU, I am merely pointing to the university ranking tables which show NUS and NTU etc. in more reputable standing.)
The fact is that there have been many news reports thus far which show that graduates from the 3 public universities earn higher starting wages than their counterparts from private schools, which shows employers do pay attention to the colleges that job-seekers come from. Phneah herself displays knowledge that the “academic entry requirements for SIM university and the Singapore Institute of Technology seem low”, which is while not an accurate reflection of candidates’ ability, is still surely employers take note of. I thus urge Phneah to not worry about her starting pay.
I am under the impression that Phneah believes that with the increase in places, more candidates will be of a lower calibre. With these ‘sub-standard’ students diluting the pool, she believes she will find it difficult to stand out from the crowd. This frankly smacks of elitism, and is again a flawed judgement on the increased intake. Phneah discounts the fact that current spaces of university spots are far too limited for local students, a problem worsened by the influx of foreign scholars who take up much of the available university places.
In the current scenario, many students who meet the entry requirements for their desired courses are denied their spaces simply due to a lack of space, not because they are sub-standard to other students in any way. Thus, Phneah’s delusion that meritocracy is eroded if more university spots equate to more undeserving students entering university is … well… deluded. In fact, more university spots actually promote meritocracy in that no longer are deserving students denied their reward simply due to scarcity.
Her argument that “This may add to the existing inequality whereby richer students have the option of going abroad or to private universities if they cannot make it to local universities” is also sadly, full of shit. This is already happening in a large scale. Less than half the graduating JC cohort enters a local university, where do you think the others go with a simple A level cert? The ones who can afford to, go overseas or to a private university as Phneah mentions. Those who can’t afford to have no choice but to retake the As or just enter the workforce.
THIS is inequality and ALREADY exists. I have no idea how Phneah arrived at the conclusion that opening 2 public universities, which offers those unable to afford the luxuries of overseas or private education a chance at entering a university, and being able to get better wages eventually, actually worsens the inequality. In fact, it actually solves it by leveling the playing field.