Sensible to cap number of university graduates

The recent discussions on limiting the number of university graduates are interesting, and we should look and learn from developments in the region (Limiting opportunities in higher education not the way to go; May 11, and A limit to how many undergraduates can be subsidised; May 16).

In Malaysia, for instance, there are now close to 40 medical schools producing more than 7,000 medical graduates a year.

Many of these new medical graduates are not able to get a houseman job immediately after graduation. They wait for three to six months before a job opening is available.

The situation in Myanmar is worse. Newly graduated doctors have to wait several years before they can secure a houseman post.

In the medical profession, housemanship is only the starting point, without which a medical graduate will not be able to practise as a doctor.

Some may argue that such a situation is good for hospitals, as they can pick and choose the best doctors from the large pool of graduates.

But such a mismatch of jobs and graduates can shatter the dreams of those who aspire to be doctors after five years of university education.

In Singapore, the Ministry of Education ought to coordinate with various industries to ensure university graduates have a fair chance of landing a reasonable job upon graduation.

Capping the number of university students is not an unreasonable option to optimise national resources.

Desmond Wai (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 19, 2017, with the headline 'Sensible to cap number of university graduates'. Print Edition | Subscribe