Beware pitfalls of new private school rules

The facade of SIM University (UniSIM).
The facade of SIM University (UniSIM).PHOTO: ST FILE

The new measures for private education institutions should be closely monitored to ensure that they do not backfire ("New measures set to spark exit of more private schools"; Oct 22).

In the short term, these new and stricter rules will remove non-competitive private education institutions from the market and leave the more established or niche institutions, thus raising the overall quality of the institutions in Singapore.

However, the new measures have also made it harder for new players to enter the private education market.

The lack of competition could result in a drop in quality.

A solution could be to set up a quality control team to ensure that the institutions hire educators of quality, and to assess the quality and value of the courses.

The new measures may increase the financial burden of students who study at the institutions.

Aventis School of Management has said it is preparing to increase its course fees, citing higher operating costs to implement the EduTrust framework.

Despite local universities expanding their intakes, there were still 77,000 Singapore students and 29,000 foreigners in private schools last year.

A spike in course fees, which are already expensive, will increase the financial burden on these students.

Coupled with the fact that such graduates have a more difficult time finding a job and have a lower starting pay, private education institution students may find themselves at a significant disadvantage compared with their peers, despite having the same level of education.

Additional funding might be a viable solution to help keep course fees low.

However, funding should be carefully distributed to prevent abuse, which will cause even more issues.

Yoshi Aki Poon Hon Tung

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'Beware pitfalls of new private school rules'. Print Edition | Subscribe