a community of singaporeans

MOE’s reply – Numbers still don’t add up

Posted by theonlinecitizen on July 20, 2007

By Leong Sze Hian

The Ministry of Education has clarified that out of the 22,933 foreign students who applied for local universities, the actual number admitted was 4,218 (18.4%). The Ministry explained that the 987(4.3%) figure given in Parliament only referred to foreign students who had obtained GCE ‘A’ level or polytechnic.

This clarification may still leave the following questions unanswered:-

The Straits Times reported today (20 July, 2007) that:

For local students, places were offered to 14,781, or 51 per cent, of those who applied.”

Number of Singaporean students: 14, 781

Number of foreign students: 4, 218

Total : 18, 999

Percentage of foreign students:

[ 4,218 / 18, 999 ] X 100 = 22.2%

Isn’t 22.2% more than the 20% cap on foreigners?

– It was said in Parliament that “The three local universities will provide 14,685 places this year, a 10 percent increase from the previous year”.

So, dividing 4,218 foreigners by 14,685 total places gives a foreign students enrolment of 28.7%.

If the 4.3% figure was wrong, what is the explanation for this apparent contradiction in the data?

– What is the first-year intake percentage for Singaporeans after adjusting for Permanent Residents?

– Since NUS’s statement implies that 28% of the total undergraduate and post-graduate enrolment are foreigners, what is the total number of foreigners plus PRs relative to total enrolment?

Read Sze Hian’s earlier article : University places – numbers don’t add up

Also blogger Frankly Speaking’s article on the issue.

Picture from


19 Responses to “MOE’s reply – Numbers still don’t add up”

  1. mrbiao said

    I’ve all along suspected that the figures were wrong. Walking around in NUS the number of foreigners feel more like 1 in 3 students rather than the claimed 1 in 5 (20%).

    One also wonders whether they’ve taken into account the number of foreign graduate students. The figures might go even higher when you consider this.

  2. mrbiao said

    I think MOE officials got some problem with their math. I thought the 20% cap on foreigner enrolment should be based on total places available rather than number of applicants?

    Consider this: If 50,000 foreigners apply for places, 20% = 10,000 admitted? Then Singapore students would only have 4,000+ places?

    So what is to be done now? I think they should revoke the places over-allocated to foreigners. Afterall, we don’t owe those foreign students anything. Singapore students should be accorded the due priority that they were promised by MOE.

  3. shoestring said

    Boy oh boy, you guys are opening up another can of worms. The more they explain the messier it will get because their figures don’t make sense in the first place. Their logic is mind-boggling too. 20% foreign : 80% local ratio = priority to locals? Singaporeans aren’t that dumb, really. Maybe that’s why they need to be paid more to come up with more elaborate spins.

  4. sarek_home said

    “This year, nearly 19,000 foreign students applied for local universities and did not get in, which translates to over S$480 million in lost revenue annually.

    And it’s not just missed economic opportunity.”

    Is this society and this government only value economic opportunity?

    How about nation building? How about nurturing the younger generation to keep their root here? Are these goals not more precious than the “missed economic opportunity”?

    There are just some kind of money we will never consider to earn because they represent corruption of social / individual values instead of economic opportunity.

    Do we tell our children that we did not sell them to some strangers as child slave and that cost us certain economic opportunity?

    There are things we don’t trade with money. Our government and media should think twice before bring up this “missed economic opportunity” claim for it may reflect badly on what kind of values they hold.

  5. Numb Already said

    Why shud anyone be surprised that the Gahmen has again made a statement that is link to “economic value” or “missed economic opportunity”? The last 12 months has witnessed more and more policies that is linked, directly or indirectly, to the Gahmen’s
    sense of economic values; from their own pay to the increase in GST. There is definitely an increase focus by the Gahmen on such economic values at the expense of other values e.g. the decision to start the casinos…oops, I mean “Integrated Resorts”. It’s probably driven by the fear of “missing” out on the huge potential revenue from such an industry! How can we allow the Macau’s of this region to make all those money without Singapore taking a slice of it! Economic Values vs Moral Values – which one takes precedence? From the Gahmen’s perspective? Wat do u think?

  6. MightNotComeHome said

    Someone trying to smoke out, and the MPs are not just sharp enough to pin it out. Why are they accepting that as an answer?

  7. spursian said

    “How about nation building? How about nurturing the younger generation to keep their root here? Are these goals not more precious than the “missed economic opportunity”?”

    Exactly. If locals are forced to go overseas just to receive a university education because the spaces have been given to foreigners, how could you blame them for wanting to live abroad once they have tasted how it is? Why should we live and fight for the nation when we’re just economic numbers? If this is the case, I would take my economic value to wherever it’s valued the highest!

  8. Hi Sarek & Spursian,

    You guys have hit it right on the head. It is quite saddening that we are hearing more and more of such rationale.

    But what is even more disappointing is this by Mr Lim Boon Heng, when talking about providing financial help to families to care for the elderly:

    “Payment cheapens the care family members give”

    Perhaps Mr Lim – and the PAP ministers – have forgotten that not too long ago, they themselves were preaching “confucian values” and “Asian Values” and “Family Values”.

    And Mr Vivian Balakrishnan, when talking about the Public Assistance Scheme, said that the govt “preferred a many-hands approach”. He duly stuck to his guns to give only $290 to our elderly.

    The question we must ask ourselves is this:

    How were we deluded into voting for such a government – a government which appears to be more and more money-minded.

    Indeed, money seems to the be-all and end-all to them.

    For did not MM Lee himself say recently that once we have economic prosperity, every other problem can be solved?

    Now, I’m not sure if he is indeed correct.

    Perhaps the very first thing we should solve is to change the one-track, money-minded mindset of the govt.


  9. mrbiao said

    And what about the GST profiteering issues? Seems that after a couple of reports in the press, there have been no follow ups anymore.

    It seems that very often once a controversial issue has been replaced by another, it will eventually have a “silent death”.

    What I cannot stand is the lack of actions taken on (or the government’s choice to ignore) citizen feedback.

  10. David said

    don’t be disappointed though, because gov will tell you it is just an HONEST DISTRACTION AND DIVERTION, better than honest mistake !

    Indeed, we have a very honest gov.

    And do not question them further in case, they will give an honest reply that is => ‘NO REPLY”

  11. David said

    You pay millions to ministers to come out wrong figure ? Look like we need to pay even more millions to make sure that they are not corrupted and have crude mentality.

    I suggest we increase all ministers of crap to $10 millions each so that they can be honest with us !

  12. kiasu said

    I’m totally disgusted with this PAP government for not being honest with its people who voted for them into power on simple statistics like how many foreigners are admitted to our local universities and how many are on scholarships at the expense of our local students. I have nothing against talented foreigners entering our universities but if only 51% of our total university places (if the official number is to be believed) are offered to locals then something is seriously wrong with our university admission criteria for depriving many of our local students of their future since not many can afford to go overseas for their university education.

  13. Spore Sun said

    Remember guys: The devil will quote scripture for his purpose.

    “Payment cheapens the care family members give” LBH said.
    So does“Payment cheapens the care Ministers give” may I remind him.

    Money is NOT the root of evil – actually, it is the LOVE of money that is the root of all evil.

    The kind of bloodless moron LBH is has to be seen to be believed. I don’t believe any good will come of his visit to Japan to ‘study’ how the senior citizens there are treated. As usual we can expect the MIW to copy all the measures that basically will result in govt doing little for very little, while conveniently forgetting that the Jap society is not quite like us.

  14. sarek_home said

    For did not MM Lee himself say recently that once we have economic prosperity, every other problem can be solved?

    Money can help us to do a lot of things but we can’t use money to buy a lot of things also.

    Think about all the regret people expressed for spending too much time to earn money and no time to spend with family.
    Think about all the regret people expressed when they die surrounded by wealth but no family and friends.

    Think about all the broken families where the parents spend too much time earning money and their lonely children become estranged, rebellious and troubled teens.

    In a sense, the nation is a big family and the leaders must not set wrong example for the rest of the family.

  15. David said

    Indeed, we have big family of cronies ruling or better still ruining Singapore. Singapore is not make up of money but people. At the rate of this governing, no doubt currently, Singapore is made of money, nothing but money.

    Money that used to better the life of Singaporean endup using it to serve PAP’s agenda.

    so much for Singapore. Without a strong nation building, no doubt Singapore will soon become a society which will mean Sin Gal Porn. Full of sin, full of gal, and full of porn thank to gov’s inability to manage a Singapore.

  16. b said

    the numbers actually shld add up but this, in my opinion, is merely a play of words and numbers.

    “For local students, places were offered to 14,781, or 51 per cent, of those who applied.”

    The key word here is “offered”, as it is different from the word “admitted” as used to describe the number of foreigners accepted to local universities.

    To be offered a place does not necessarily means that a student will enter this university. There are 2 things to be clarified here. Does the figure “14,781” consists of the total number of students being offered a place in local universities WITHOUT double or even triple counting? If no, then this figure is grossly inflated to reflect a bias towards local students. Secondly, if the answer to the first question is yes, then what are the reasons why such a large proportion of local students decide to reject the offer of a place. Is it that an overseas education is just too alluring? Or is it that our perception of local universities or the local education system is just so bad that we would want to leave for better academic instituitions and environment?

  17. mrbiao said

    I noticed the play on words too. I am sure something is up with the numbers. Why don’t they just provide us the numbers of those who were actually admitted? By now this information should be available, with term starting in a couple of weeks.

    Keep up the comments and blogging on this topic. Don’t let this die a natural death like other issues in the past.

  18. lesile said

    To Biao,
    would ministers willing risk their pay and reputation to find the truth ? Why should they do it knowing very well that they deliberate hide the truth in first place ? They refrain from telling the truth and give untruth to avoid public uproar. They do in the past, in the present, and definitely in the future again because no one is going to protest, revolt or even dare to discredit them openly.

    So what to do ? Here has no democracy, only create FUD, only love money. Perhaps why this is called Singapore in first place.

    With so much to lose since back in 1965, why should the gov tell it all the truth about their mistake and history ?

  19. lesile said

    sarek_home Says:
    For did not MM Lee himself say recently that once we have economic prosperity, every other problem can be solved?

    Whe MM Lee and ministers speaking, they are in fact speaking in front of a mirror and tell themselves more good years. No wonder, their own prophecy come true because they are in position to make them true anyway.

    Most problem can be simply solve by just jumping down the MRT track. LCY may want to solve his problem this way.

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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 )

Google+ photo

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

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: