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Knowledge-based economy needs more Uni education financing

Posted by theonlinecitizen on February 20, 2008

By Gerald Giam

FINANCE Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam announced in his 2008 Budget Speech that the Government will increase the CDC/CCC-University Bursaries for students from the lowest 20 percent of households from $1,000 to $1,600. This is a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, the increase is probably not enough to cover the 7 to 20 percent hike in tuition fees recently announced by Singapore‘s three publicly-funded universities. Singaporean students will now have to fork out between $6,360 and $18,230 a year for undergraduate courses.

The ever-increasing cost of tertiary education is a cause for worry.

Many experts believe that education is the best socio-economic leveller. One of the most important ways to facilitate social mobility is education, and tertiary education in particular.

The Government has taken pride in its self-proclaimed “meritocratic” system, whereby anyone, whether rich or poor, can climb the social ladder to join the ranks of the elites in society if they achieve excellent grades in school and get awarded scholarships to study in university. However, the success of a country should not be judged solely by the achievements of the elite.

The former president of Japanese multinational Matsushita remarked some years ago to the then-Economic Development Board (EDB) Chairman Ngiam Tong Dow that our educational structure had some brilliant individuals perched like eagles on high peaks, but the average education level of the rest was not high. He advised that Singapore should concentrate on educating the masses to raise the average level and not just focus on the top scholars. He said that to advance as a nation, we need “high broad plateaus, not solitary peaks”.

Singapore already has a very good education system at all levels — primary, secondary, technical and tertiary. However in the present economy, it is tertiary education (i.e. universities and polytechnics) that will make the difference between those who break into the middle-income group and above, and those who will remain in the struggling-to-survive group.

Singapore needs more knowledge workers to power our economy. If companies can’t find these workers locally, they will have to hire foreign talent, as they are already doing. The globalisation train is steaming ahead, and there’s nothing we can do to stop it. Most manufacturing jobs and even technical jobs will be shipped out to China, India or Vietnam sooner than we think. No amount of labour protectionism will save these jobs.

More foreign talent or more education?

To prepare our young for the knowledge-based economy, the Government needs to give as many students as possible the opportunity to study in tertiary institutions.

It doesn’t make sense for the Government to constantly carp at the lack of local knowledge workers and import wave after wave of foreign talent, when it should be putting in place more long-term solutions by providing more opportunities for Singaporeans to complete their tertiary education. Human capital development is an investment with an almost guaranteed return.

In his Budget speech, the Finance Minister pointed out that in centres for innovation like Austin, Texas, over 44 percent of their population hold college degrees. But currently in Singapore, a mere 23 percent of each primary one cohort enters university. The Government plans to increase this to just 30 percent by 2015.

This, in my opinion, is not enough. It is unfortunate that many parents spend fortunes to send their children overseas to study due to lack of places in local universities. I understand that one of the Government’s concerns is that the job market may not be able to support a higher proportion of degree holders, should the economy head south in the future.

The question to ask then is will these Singaporeans be better off if they didn’t have a degree? Probably not. They might still be able to find well-paying jobs overseas with their qualifications, just like many Filipinos do. Not so for the non-degree holders, who will have far fewer career options, whether the economy is doing well or not.

Tertiary education and the lower income group

Students from low-income households often have to overcome numerous odds just to perform well in their studies, let alone finance their tertiary education. For these students, continuing on to tertiary education after secondary school entails not just tuition fees and other school-related expenses (stationery, books, etc). It also presents an opportunity cost. This is because many would be under pressure to start working as soon as possible to contribute to the household income, often to see their younger siblings through school.

Furthermore, the lower value that many poorer parents place on higher education is another factor that might be holding down university enrolment among low-income students. I have a good friend who qualified for junior college after secondary school, but her parents discouraged her from continuing on in JC after the first 3 months because they felt it would be a stretch to pay for her university education. She went to polytechnic instead. (Fortunately she took up a professional degree after she started working.)

This would probably not have happened had her family been wealthy enough to pay for her university education. In fact, all of my peers from high-income backgrounds eventually completed university, even those with average academic ability. Those who didn’t do well enough to enter local institutions completed their studies overseas. Is it fair, then, for someone to miss out on a university education just because her family is not rich?

A report by the Education Policy Institute in Canada titled “Grants for Students” found that grants are an effective way of increasing access to higher education for students from low-income households. The research revealed that grants tip the cost-benefit ratio of higher education in favour of the “benefits” by offsetting tuition costs and foregone income. In other words, a JC student from a low-income family who is deciding whether to spend $20,000 to complete university or start working immediately no longer has to make that decision if he knows that his university education will be covered entirely by grants.

Are current bursaries enough?

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has stated that no student will be denied a university education because of financial difficulties. It claims that all cases of genuine financial need will be met by bursaries.

Unfortunately, bursaries don’t cover all the tuition costs, let alone the other expenses of higher education. The annual tuition fees in local public universities range from $6,360 for arts and engineering, to $18,230 for medicine and dentistry. This includes the MOE tuition grant, which is given to all students, even foreigners. Most bursaries are valued between $800 and $2,000 per year, based on the level of financial need.

One needs to have a gross monthly per capita household income of less than $1,000 to qualify for an $800-a-year MOE bursary. Furthermore, the bursaries usually prohibit students from concurrently holding other bursaries or scholarships. They are also required to re-apply every academic year.

The National University of Singapore’s (NUS) Student Financial Aid Unit states on their website that the financial aid package is a “partnership involving the student, his/her family and the University”. While this co-payment approach sounds reasonable in theory, in reality many students from low-income families still won’t be able to meet the balance of payments even after factoring in the bursaries. Many would still have to fork out several thousand dollars each year for tuition fees, books and other living expenses, even if they receive the maximum amount in bursaries.

Part-time work could make up for some of the shortfall, but the money earned may be needed to supplement family income or support siblings, rather than pay their own tuition expenses. In addition, since bursaries need to be renewed every year, the student has no assurance prior to entering university that his or her expenses will be adequately covered for the duration of the 3 or 4 year course.

A tuition loan may be an alternative, but it does not reduce the net price of education (in fact it increases because of the interest) and it saddles the student with debt even before he or she has begun working.

Therefore, I propose that the bottom 30 percent of households (according to per capita income) should be given full tuition grants and grants to cover other expenses like textbooks and board. The payable fees could be slowly increased from the 31st percentile until the 90th percentile. Students from middle income households should have access to a combination of grants, low-interest loans and “work-study” to cover all their tuition fees and expenses. Those in the top 10th percentile should pay close to full tuition fees.

Financial Assistance for Continuing Education and Training

The Finance Minister has announced that the Government will now provide subsidies for part-time degree programmes at NUS, NTU, SMU and UniSIM. The Government will meet 40 percent of the cost of these programmes. This is an excellent but long overdue measure. Many adults who take up these part-time degree programmes do so because they couldn’t afford to do their degrees after secondary school. They deserve to be given equal access to subsidised tertiary education just like their full-time peers.

Keeping Education Costs Down

According to NUS, 70 percent of their budget goes to paying salaries. In their quest to ascend to the top of the world university rankings, our public universities are paying increasingly large salaries to attract “top-notch” professors to come to Singapore.

I question the value of this strategy.

The rankings of a university are dependent more on the quality and amount of research by its faculty and post-graduate departments than the quality of instruction. This is because many top researchers and professors choose universities for their research opportunities and funding. In this regard, a highly-ranked university may not necessarily be the best in terms of teaching quality, and thus beneficial for those seeking higher education. I once had a physics professor who was a decorated US government scientist but couldn’t teach for nuts!

I wonder if our universities are wooing all these top professors, paying them top dollar and then passing on the cost increases to students, who may not enjoy any significant improvement in the quality of their education.

Conclusion

Many well-to-do Singaporeans would have welcomed the 20 percent income tax rebate and the abolition of Estate Duty. While I personally have no complaint about this, it presents a huge revenue loss for the Government. Couldn’t this money be put to better use by investing in education rather than giving it away to Singaporeans who don’t really need it anyway?

Singapore has done well as a whole in educating our people, earning praise from may quarters. Nevertheless, with increasing competition from India, China and the ASEAN region, the need to improve access to higher education has taken a much more urgent imperative. This need can be met to a large extent by increased financing for university education for Singaporean students, particularly those in the low-income group.

—————-

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24 Responses to “Knowledge-based economy needs more Uni education financing”

  1. Currently Spared said

    Being in the States at the moment tells me one thing, namely while a graduate in the valley is like being a polytechnic graduate in Singapore. If the government is serious about a knowledge-based economy, it is time to get more Singaporean into quality Masters programmes and some 40+% Singaporean graduating from university. 30% by is 2015 is probably a decade or more late. From my experience back in Singapore, there are lots of research projects that has problem finding engineers to fill the vacancy. I am not sure if 10% can be accommodated, but at least we have some room to make up for here.

    Getting foreign talent is not a long term solution, especially if you start taking them for granted once they are here. The last thing about keeping talent, it is not about wooing them with websites like http://www.contactsingapore.org.sg/. The key is to let Singaporean and foreign talent feel a sense of worthiness in the country. If keeping the talent here cannot be achieved, then it is useless to produce more graduates or import foreign ones.

  2. Robert HO said

    RH:
    1. Thank you, Mr Gerald GIAM, for another excellent post for TOC. I have learned much. I have nothing to add/detract from your excellent article but I will dwell briefly on some Peripheral Issues your post has triggered.

    2. When my son joined the Gifted Programme, he was part of 0.7% picked from his cohort of 45,000. Then, it became 1%. Now, the GEP is scrapped and replaced by the Special Course which takes the top 10%. I BELIEVE THIS IS BECAUSE THE MINISTERS AND OTHER ELITES WERE EMBARRASSED BY THE REPEATED FAILURES OF THEIR CHILDREN TO QUALIFY FOR THE GEP AND SO THE LESS STRINGENT SPECIAL COURSE WAS STARTED, WHICH THEIR CHILDREN COULD EASILY QUALIFY FOR DUE TO MONEY GIVING THE BEST STARTS FROM EDUCATIONAL TOYS AND COMPUTERS TO PRIVATE TUTORS. In PAPadise, everything is done for political reasons and giving their children a head start to maintain the Elite Class is just 1 aspect of this policy. The Caste System is slowly but surely becoming rigid and clearly demarcated. The early days when we could jump from shop assistant’s children into the professionals’ class is slowly dying.

    3. Still on the Caste System, mixed with LIE KY’s stupid misunderstanding of, and tinkering with, eugenics, he tried to create a Caste of Graduates vs the masses of non-grads [always with his Brahmin Family at the top, of course]. Remember the Social Development Unit [SDU] which is [still] a govt matchmaking agency only for graduates, so grad would marry grad? This Graduate Caste failed only because of a 4-letter word: LOVE. LIE KY failed to realise that most grads often have NON-GRAD parents, siblings, cousins, etc, and that, unfortunately for his eugenics policies, many grads often fall in love with NON-GRADs! Otherwise we would have a rigid Graduate Caste by now. 3 cheers for Love! A rigid Caste system would be yet another Divide and Rule tactic so beloved of Despots. He would win over the Grads and use them against the Non-grads who are numerically superior but weaker. Since voting is rigged, non-grads’ numerical superiority counts for nothing and thus the grads are more important to LIE KY’s scheme of things. Still is.

    4. Another LIE KY policy staple and perennial is of course, the OVERTAX & UNDERSPEND policies. These apply in Education and University education like everywhere else and so we can expect less and less subsidies, grants, bursaries, scholarships and more and more cost-recovery, hence escalating, prices and even some [as usual, disguised] profit-making as well. Overtax & Underspend. Eventually, university education would be at market rates, like everything else, and we would almost all pay full market rates. See how easy it is to make policy in Singapore? Start with the long laid-down SIMcity programming and then simply apply it to everything — gradually of course, like always, in slow, steady price increases like bus fares, GST, etc, etc. No brainers at work.

    5. Non-grads have long been squeezed out of many of THEIR best jobs long ago. PrimeMoron admitted years ago: “If we did not have some foreign workers to average down the wage cost for the employers, are you sure the employers can survive in Singapore?” Now, grads, too, are being squeezed out of many of THEIR BEST JOBS for the same reasons: to keep labour costs cheap for employers because Singapore essentially competes on cheap labour at all levels except at Cabinet level, that is, except for themselves, the Elite of the Elites.

    6. This Open Door or rather Doorless Policy has, of course, ramifications, which the 3Morons didn’t see coming. You can import a foreigner practically overnight, with 1 click of an online form or a signature on an application and he arrives on a jet within a week, often with some family in tow BUT THE INFRASTRUCTURE WE HAVE TO SHARE WITH FOREIGNERS ALWAYS TAKES YEARS TO BUILD, FROM PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND ROADS TO HOSPITALS AND DOCTORS. Hence the scramble now to build hospitals, witness the Budget, days ago. We are not only being squeezed out of OUR Best Jobs but have to physically squeeze with them everywhere. Singapore is the 4th Densest State in the world but if you subtract the huge Armed Forces training and Bases areas, ~dozen reservoirs, golf courses [1 every 10 sq mile, highest in the world], we are probably by far the DENSEST. And getting Denser with every foreigner the LIEgime imports to desperately keep up GDP productive activities which only physical bodies can generate, like in the movie Matrix, because they know not how to generate GDP otherwise.

    7. Here, to comment neutrally about foreigners. What makes a foreigner a foreigner and a Singaporean a Singaporean? It is Shared Experiences. Singaporeans who grow up here share many Common Experiences which make them Singaporean. Thus, a Chinese and a Malay Singaporean can have More Shared Experiences than with a Chinese from China. However, if that Chinaman has enough Commonalities when he arrives, and gains more with time, he can be as Singaporean as any local-born. This is often an emotional and experiential thing uncomputable from any data collected and run through computers or analysable by even the best constructed software. Since our ‘technocrats’ [or rather, Dumbocrats] have proven singularly Idiots at anything other than numerical calculations, they have thoroughly botched up the important, even vital, thinking regarding foreigners. This is a huge Blind Spot in their [non]vision.

    8. Overtax & Underspend necessitate continuing scrutiny of Cost-Benefit ratios. This shortchanges our people because the 3Morons are not smart enough to calculate the incalculable and thus PREVENT most of our peoples’ potential being realised and profitably and productively developed. In my RH Quote of the Day today, I wrote : RH: “In every community, there are natural, born artists, musicians, poets, writers, philosophers, dramatists, even geniuses except that, in dictatorships, all these are repressed and turned into the preferred technicians and plumbers.” Nobody, not even God, can calculate the innate talents and geniuses in every community. The smart policy then is to develop an education system that encourages EVERYTHING and not to narrowly define how many accountants, civil engineers, plumbers, movie stars, pop bands, etc, you need or want. As LIE KY has stupidly done from Day 1 of his misRule. Not in this day and age, anyway.

    9. Mr GIAM has good suggestions which I cannot better. What I have tried to do is to batter away at the misThinking and misBeliefs behind most of the LIEgime’s decades-long policies on education and university education. Until the misThinking changes, the policies will not change because the LIEgime listens to no one and nothing, since they rig elections and do not have to listen to us or get our mandate. Any PAP apologist out there still think Dictatorhip works?

  3. socius said

    The PAP government is increasingly filled with arrogant out of touch individuals like the guy – Wee something something – whose daughter told a lower-class blogger to “get out of my uncaring elitest” face. Government and proto-govt organizations see Singaporeans as a profit centre, when actually we have nowhere else to turn to get these services. They are proud of how business “savvy” they are, when actually they run a monopoly. — I would not say that the education system has produced many high quality people: most singaporeans do not have much of an opinion on anything. Apart from making money we are not really good at much else in life.

  4. Dr.Huang said

    Hi Gerald,
    Congrats on a well-researched and well-thought article.

    I want to start with some minor disagreements:
    1.I think the budget surplus was large enough for them to increase education funding without withholding the personal income tax rebate. Please don’t encourage them to talk that away!
    2.The increased salary of lecturers may not be just for the top-notched professors- I think the rank and file expats are a scarce commodity. I don’t want to sound pro-foreign but my experience is that many foreign lecturers do add value as they often exhibit passion in their fields.

    I totally agree with you for much of the rest esply:

    1. We should increase the educational level of the middle and lower sections of each cohort ( not just concentrate on the stars in the top section)

    2.Previously we were worried about overemployment ( eg graduates driving taxis), now that MOM says there are more jobs than applicants, we should increase Uni places. This reduces need for students to go overseas. Maybe the govt can fund some of the overseas Uni’s which are twinning in Singpaore now ( eg U of London external program etc). They should help ( or encourage) these twinning degress to improve their standards. But it is chicken and egg problem- if they get better quality students, in time to come, their standards will also rise.

    Cheers

    Dr.Huang

  5. familyman said

    there was a good forum page article today, questioning our govt need to ‘sponsor’ China students to the hilt, while our students are left with a study loan – while $34 bil is invested on UBS / Citibank etc. Smart move?

  6. familyman said

    PS – TOC should continue to mark to market our great GIC / Temasek Holding investments in those banks / hedge funds

  7. la nausée said

    While I have sympathy with your arguments, the problem with full bursaries is that you’re awarding tuition grants purely on the basis of family background, i.e. a form of affirmative action, rather than on the basis of merit. Can’t the well-off, top-performing students also legitimately claim that they deserve tuition grants as well? Is it fair if you’re effectively discounting their achievements, simply because they come from wealthy backgrounds. I think striking a balance between financial need and merit is not quite so easy.

    I also disagree that universities should primarily be about professional instruction than academic research. I think in every university, there has to be a healthy mix of both. Academic research, even if esoteric at times, is important because it generates knowledge and alternative viewpoints, which help improve the well-being of society-at-large. Such improvements may not be quantifiable in pecuniary terms, but they are nonetheless observable.

    The key, I think, is having a number of universities, with each offering its own unique mix of instruction and research. E.g. NUS could be more research-oriented, while NTU could be more instruction-oriented.

  8. sarek_home said

    Singapore SM1, SM2, SM3 scholarship for PRC students:

    http://www.taisha.org/bbs/thread-856435-1-1.html

  9. Gerald said

    Familyman – Thanks for pointing out the ST Forum letter. I’ve reproduced the letter and written an additional commentary on it on my blog.

    Dr Huang – Tax break for the rich…hmmm…my capitalist side says ‘why not’, but assuming we don’t end up with $7bn surpluses every year, funds are limited and we might have to make a choice between investing in education and giving tax breaks to the rich.

    RH – Thanks for the consistent support.

  10. Dr.Huang said

    Hi Gerald,
    The choice wasn’t between tax break for the rich or education funding, it is between using more surplus collection for the people ( rich and poor) or channelling all these monies into slush funds ( which in S’pore is called GIC or Temasek or some other official-sounding names).

    Dr.Huang

  11. SS Lee said

    I detest the continued free funding for foreigners FOC whilst not doing enough to ensure CITIZENS are nurtured. Bonding these foreigners with a requirement to work here for ‘x’ years is cheap! Who doesnt want to get a job after graduation? DUH.
    Stop this crap! It’s time they be Transparent about how many, how much has been spent and how many have stayed and for how long!

  12. Andrew Loh said

    From The Straits Times:

    HELP GRADS WHO DO AS WELL AS FOREIGN TALENT

    Recently, I befriended a group of scholars from China studying at my alma mater, Nayang Technological University (NTU). They were in their late teens and were attending foundation courses in English and Maths before starting their undergraduate studies. In their five-year sojourn at NTU, they will be given free lodging and a month allowance of $500 each. Needless to say, they do not have to pay for their tuition fees. When they graduate, they must work in Singapore for six years as part of their “payback” bond.

    A highly conservative calculation of their five-year tenure at NTU suggests that each will cost the Goverment or NTU some $70,000. That is, $30,000 for their five-year tuition fees, including the charges for their foundation courses, and some $40,000 for hostel accommodation and their montly stipends. I graduated from NTU five years ago, with a good honours degree.

    I was in the top 15 per cent of my cohort – and performed better than some of these scholars. While studying at NTU, I had to work as a pizza delivery boy to earn my allowance. Upon graduation, I had to start paying off a $24,000 – student loan.

    Why are Singaporeans like me not treated as considerately as scholars ? My study loan took five years to pay off after I started working. The China scholars receive financial support, a free education, and start their working lives debt free. Their six-year bond is seen as a contribution to Singapore.

    Am I not contributing as much, if not more? Non-scholar Singaporeans are not treated in quite the same way as foreign tale, regardless of how well we perform. The disparity is disheartening.

    Don’t Singaporeans like me who have done well deserve some relief ? True, Local scholarships are available, but not ever Singaporean who graduated well, gets one.

    Can the NTU or the Education Ministry tell me why graduates like myself don’t deserve some relief or reward for doing as well, or better than, some of the foreign talent ?

    Zhou Zhiqiang ….

  13. Andrew Loh said

    A discussion of that ST letter by Zhou Zhiqiang at sgforums.

  14. aygee said

    To Andrew, Gerald and Familyman,

    yes, its quite distressful to read that article about Chinese FT getting a better break than locals.

    I have a conspiracy theory.

    Smart Singaporean Chinese are leaving the country, and quite possibly, smart Singaporean Chinese are not producing enough babies.

    Thus the breaks to Chinese FTs in universities is to maintain the Chinese majority in Singapore? MM Lee has been very “pragmatic” about his race statements in the past and maintaining the Chinese majority…

    so…could this theory be true?

    Do we know whether similar programs are done for Indian nationals? or Thai? or Filipino? or Aussie or American?

  15. Andrew Loh said

    Hi all,

    To play devil’s advocate, the MOE does require foreign students to pay more in some aspects. Such as:

    Donation to Education Fund:

    A foreign student is requested to make biennial donations (that is, once every two years) to the Education Fund of the Ministry of Education if his/her application to study in Singapore is approved.

    Foreign students are requested to make the biennial donations of S$1,000 within the period stated in the Letter of Donation.

    The biennial donations replace the previous donation rates ($3,000 for Malaysians and $5,000 for other nationalities) which were requested once at the primary education level and once at the secondary education level.

    ———————-

    In the recent hike in tuition fees for NUS and NTU:

    Foreign students on tuition grant bond will pay 50 per cent more, or $9,540, while Singapore PR will pay 10 per cent more, or $7,000. Foreign students and PRs not on a tuition grant bond will pay $23,320 a year.

    ———————-

    Singapore revises school fees for non-citizens:

    From next year (2007), permanent residents (PRs) in government-aided schools, junior colleges and centralised institutes will have to pay about 20% more for school fees.

    Foreign students, whose fees are already higher than those for citizens and PRs, will have their fees increased by about 30%.

    With the revisions, a Singaporean in a government- or government-aided secondary school will continue to pay $60 a year in school fee but a PR will pay $72.

    A foreign student from an ASEAN country will pay $1,860 while foreigners from other countries will pay $2,040, both up from the current $1,560.

    As foreign students’ fees in ITE are currently significantly lower than those in schools and JCs, the increase will bring them closer, says the MOE.

    For the universities, currently PRs in the autonomous universities pay the same tuition fees as citizens while foreign students pay fees that are 10% more than citizens.

    From the academic year 2008, PRs will have to pay fees that are 10% more than citizens.

    For foreign students, fees will be 50% higher than those for citizens.

    ———————-

    Of course, the above changes do not belittle the concerns of Singaporeans like Zhou Zhiqiang.

  16. Gary Teoh said

    I know of many locals Uni students giving tuitions to support their expenses because their parents can’t pay enough for them to complete uni study.There was a student who even stole after learning that his parent’s CPF was not enough for him to pay the fees.Who are we to blame??

  17. Robert Tan said

    A well researched report.

    Just to add, looking the economic history of the Republic of Ireland, they faced various economic problems in the 1970s and 1980s.

    So governments since then have implemented various policies to restructure the economy. One of their cornerstone policy on education was free university for their citizens especially in the areas of engineering and technology.

    Today Ireland is well known as the “Tiger” economy of the EU with the best performing average annual GDP growth for the past 10 years.

  18. Gerald said

    Robert Tan – Thanks for that info. I should do more research about Ireland’s free uni education.

    I’ve blogged about Singaporean students subsidising foreign scholars here.

    Aygee – I think your hypothesis is probably right. But whether China people and Indian nationals will integrate well into S’pore society has yet to be seen.

  19. Robert HO said

    RH:
    Just penned a comment in : http://lalaland9.wordpress.com/2008/02/21/singapore-needs-a-wee-kim-wee-in-politics/#comments that furthers my points in my Comment 2 above, so I paste the new comment here :

    RH:
    1. If you accept my premise of Singaporean identity being formed from Shared Common Experiences, as I wrote in Comment 2 in : http://theonlinecitizen.com/2008/02/20/knowledge-based-economy-needs-more-uni-education-financing/#comments
    then it follows that a White Horse like LHL IS NOT A SINGAPOREAN BUT ALMOST A FOREIGNER. LHL’s entire life and career from young have been so different from the rest of us [and many of his ilk, too, including LIE KY] that he and his ilk have little Shared Common Experiences like the rest of us, and hence they are not really Singaporeans. They are Foreigners! This may explain why they are capable of such cruelty, callousness and stinginess; why they have absolutely no empathy with the rest of us or think our lives, interests, hopes and dreams important — only their failed policies and egos are important and these take precedence over anything for the masses of us.

    2. If you agree with my premise of SCE, then it also follows that SCE is a 2-way process in which a foreigner not only becomes more and more Singaporean with more and more SCE, but it also means that HE ALSO CHANGES US EVEN AS WE CHANGE HIM. Thus, if our ‘culture’ is weak or his culture is strong, then our numerical superiority may not change him as much as he can change some of us, at least those with whom he interacts or can communicate with or has reach over.

    3. Talking about numerical superiority, with 1 in 4 of the population foreigners, our ‘culture’ is in danger of being swamped by all these foreigners’ cultural baggage that they inevitably bring with them. Thus, the nature of Singapore is rapidly changing with the massive imports of foreigners. Singapore may not remain Singaporean for long. Maybe it is already too late.

    4. All these points are beyond the little minds of the LIE KY LHL PAP LIEgime since they only know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Such considerations are way, way out of their ken and their so-called ‘technocrat’ tendencies, ‘technocrat’ defined boastfully as almost ’scientific’ and therefore ‘unemotional-based’, which they deride as ‘unscientific’ and therefore inferior. They have been and are totally wrong. The result is a Sparta instead of an Athens.

    5. Singapore is Sparta while Hongkong is Athens. Sparta was militaristic. Boys were encouraged to grow strong and joined the army as soon as they were old enough. Today, Sparta has left nothing behind. Athens, on the other hand, gave the world many achievements, from politics, science and mathematics, especially geometry, music, drama, philosophy, poems, writings and musings on a diversity of subjects, all of which even scholars today delve into fruitfully.

    6. Singapore, like Sparta, is leaving nothing behind and nothing of value to the human race. This is the legacy of LIE KY and probably the most damning indictment of his [mis]rule.

  20. Piaroh-Cze said

    now u’re not being fair. HK is hardly an Athens…… i’ve had plenty of experience in tt place, both 1st n 2nd hand, n i can safely say Singapore will lave a more impressive legacy than they will.

    btw, many of e discoveries attributed to Athens was more e result of plundering e libraries of other city-states they attacked. dun forget also, tt the Spartans fought off streams of invaders, be they Persians or Romans. Athens’ survival was bought with e blood of Sparta.

  21. Jerome Yao said

    Hi Andrew,

    The hike in school fees for non-citizens apply only to PRC students who accompany their mothers here to study and not to the scholars.

    Are you a local graduate ? If you had been to NUS Comp Science campus, you will mistake it for a Little China or India !

    I wonder how many of these PRC scholars stay back and make Singapore their homes after their bonds end and how many jobs they have deprived locals of.

    Anyway, it’s another great article again from TOC !

    Cheers !

  22. […] – Singapore Patriot: Singaporean students subsidising foreign scholars? – The Online Citizen: Knowledge-based economy needs more Uni education financing – To Fix a Mocking Peasant: Molly Replies to ST Forum […]

  23. Ben said

    To understand why the government is still giving out scholarships to those PRC/Indian scholars, you have to go and read what MM Lee said recently. He said something like even if we retained 20-30% of these people, we stand to gain. That is an outdated perception. What can these future foreign fresh graduates contribute to our economy? What do we stand to gain?

    What they can do, our local students can do too. If not, we have thousands of overseas students who took off for Australia because they can’t enter local colleges. Our government needs to have more faith in our people!

    I rather spend the money to attract more graduate-level students than those undergraduate youngsters and then try to bond these mature graduates to some government organization while they are doing their PHD or MS.

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