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Where’s the logic in capping local graduates when there is a large foreign student population in our unis?

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By: Leong Sze Hian

I refer to Yeoh Lam Keong’s article “Ex-GIC chief economist blasts Minister Ong’s education policy of capping local university graduates as “unimaginative”” (The Independent, May 5).

“Describing the education policy as “same old unimaginative line”, Mr Yeoh pointed out that “the history of education policy is full of examples of existing policy makers underestimating the skill and education needs of the modern economy and overestimating their ability to forecast them. Mr Yeoh said Singapore’s education policy was very similar to America’s yesteryear one, where it was thought that their universal education policy was producing too many graduates which would lead to unemployment and dissatisfaction. This was later proven to be false.”

For decades our public universities reserved 20 percent of the first year undergraduate admissions for foreign students. It was recently reduced to 16 per cent. But still this defies logic.

After including permanent residents (PRs) and postgraduate students (the majority of them being non-Singaporeans) – the estimated percentage of non-Singaporean students in our public universities’ total enrolment was about 35 per cent.

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Are there any countries in the world that has so many foreign students in their public universities?

The majority of such students are on tuition grant or scholarships, etc – which has been estimated to cost about $400 million a year.

And now we are told that local university graduates will continue to be capped at between 30 to 40 per cent. What are your thoughts on the above?

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