Better gauge of private school grads' progress is social mobility

The survey of private school graduates is simplistic (Private school grads lag behind in getting full-time jobs: Survey; April 4).

Comparing private education institutions (PEIs) with autonomous universities in terms of the employment status and median gross monthly salary of their full-time degree graduates six months after course completion is problematic, as the survey does not consider the differences between PEIs and research universities.

Whereas research universities, like the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University, are concerned with their international rankings in terms of teaching, research and administration, PEIs prioritise student population growth.

While PEIs admit students of various ages, academic backgrounds and capabilities, research universities are more selective during their admission exercises.

PEIs should therefore not be compared with research universities.

Also, various roles of PEIs were not considered in the survey.

Some colleges provide industry training for internationally recognised professional certifications like the Chartered Certified Accountant and Chartered Financial Analyst qualifications for accounting and finance professionals respectively.

Others are feeders to research universities' postgraduate programmes, which may explain why some of their graduates were not working six months after graduation.

Instead of comparing PEIs, autonomous universities and polytechnics in terms of graduate employment statistics, a more meaningful criterion would be a social mobility index calculating the difference between a graduate's family income before and after college.

Tng Cheong Sing (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 07, 2018, with the headline 'Better gauge of private school grads' progress is social mobility'. Print Edition | Subscribe