Limiting opportunities in higher education not the way to go

Like Mr Chua Boon Yiang (Govt should not put cap on those trying to upgrade; May 6), I am puzzled and worried by the message about limiting opportunities in higher education (Education system must be aligned with economy: Ong Ye Kung; May 5).

It is strange that there is an arbitrary cap on the opportunities for higher education offered to younger Singaporeans, even as more workers - from bankers to food vendors - are being actively encouraged to upgrade themselves and "go back to school".

Encouraging more Singaporeans to pursue a university education is ultimately the key to ensuring that we can have a foot in the door in an increasingly knowledge- and innovation-based economy.

There are concerns that we face a graduate glut, which may depress wages.

But putting a cap on opportunities in higher education is not the way to go. Rather, we should extend equality of opportunity in education while ensuring that the skills from higher education are highly applicable and relevant to the workplace.

This can be done by facilitating closer partnerships between education providers and industry.

If we do not do this, we risk generating a sense of unfairness among those who are left out in our economic transition.

They will feel increasingly disillusioned about building their hopes and dreams here.

Ultimately, it will lead to distrust of the system.

We must ensure that every Singaporean who works hard gets a fair chance of achieving his aspirations.

This is the only way we can strengthen our unity and national identity, and bravely face the challenges ahead.

Lionel Loi Zhi Rui

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 11, 2017, with the headline 'Limiting opportunities in higher education not the way to go'. Print Edition | Subscribe