Raise quality of private education

For many who cannot enter the autonomous universities here, going private represents an alternative, but expensive, way to acquire a paper qualification.

However, it seems that the investment is a poor one.

The statistics have shown that less than half of private-school graduates found full-time permanent work six months after graduation, and their median gross starting salaries are just $2,650 a month (Private school grads lag behind in getting full-time jobs: Survey; April 4).

Employers tend to hire these grads and have them perform clerical work at a pay that is only a bit more than a polytechnic graduate.

Perhaps it would have made more sense for these grads to have gone to a polytechnic instead, where they could have acquired a trade skill.

To add salt to injury, the foreign degrees from private schools are sometimes not recognised by the Government.

The quality of learning and teaching, hours of instruction and examination standards are also reportedly not as robust as at the autonomous universities.

One way to raise standards is to limit private school degrees to just those from the top 200 universities in the world, according to the Times Higher Education University Rankings or QS World University Ranking.

The Quality Assurance Framework for Universities can also be made applicable to private schools.

An apprenticeship scheme, where a learner works with a master for three days and studies for two days a week, may be a feasible idea as well.

It is time that the Committee for Private Education and SkillsFuture Singapore rethink the future of private education.

Michael Lum

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 11, 2018, with the headline 'Raise quality of private education'. Print Edition | Subscribe