Q & A: Quality of private education in Singapore

private education

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There has been some reports of employers placing less emphasis on students who graduated from private institutions. What are your thoughts on this?

There is usually some prestige being attributed to students who graduate from local universities, which is understandable since most of Singapore’s local universities are ranked among the world’s best.

When it comes to private education providers, there are usually tie-ups with international foreign universities, the quality of education of which differs between the institutions. Sometimes these lecturers are flown down to give lectures to students, and at other times, the private education providers employ local lecturers to provide the lectures to students.

In recent years, there seems to be a trend towards inviting lecturers from the respective universities offering the courses to conduct the lectures. Either way, most employers often consider the mode of learning for such students who are enrolled in an overseas course but studying locally as “distance learning”.

There seems to be some sort of negative connotations attributed to “distance learning” in the past but now, employers are more open to such learning concepts, especially when free courses are now offered online. Think Coursera and Khan Academic. More and more academically recognised universities are also offering online courses, such as the MIT OpenCourseware offered by Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and even Harvard Extension School.

Negative perception of private institutions sometimes extend to any certifications or diplomas offered by the private institutions themselves.

I feel that be it educators, employers, or parents, we should all keep an open mind towards students who graduated from private institutions. Their enthusiasm for learning and determination to further their studies should be applauded, and they also deserve an opportunity and have a go in the competitive work force. It is only fair that they be placed on a level playing field with other graduates and be given the right to be assessed during interviews rather than before them (unless of course, they are deemed unsuitable other than their academic qualifications).

There have been many students who have graduated from private institutions locally to date, and most of them have turned out well in carving their careers and contributing to the organisations that they work in.

Hence, give all graduating students a chance to shine, regardless of where they graduate. Only when graduating students from public and private educational institutions are considered judiciously for employment will meritocracy – a value highly valued in Singapore – work its magic.

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