Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Explaining a discrepancy.....

“Mr Gan said 28,000 Singapore students applied to
the universities this year and half of them were offered places. In contrast, 23,000 foreign students applied and only 987 or 4.3 percent were given places” -

“international students now make up about 20% of NTU’s undergraduate population and about 33% of its graduate population…the National University of Singapore (NUS) said about 20% of its 23,900 undergraduates and about 50% of its 9,100 postgraduate students are from overseas…the number of permanent residencies (PRs) awarded last year rose to 57,300 – a 9.6% increase from 2005 and a 55.3% increase from 2004”- Business Times of 26 May 2007.

The people I spoke to who graduated from NUS & NTU stared at me in disbelief when I mentioned these numbers - only 4.3% of the foreigners who applied got into our universities. They were sure there are lot more foreign students than the 987 our esteemed minister said were successful with their applications.

Of course our Minister of State for Eduction Mr. Gan did not lie when he say only 4.3% of foreign students who applied to our universities got a place. One plausible explanation is the rest got into our unversities because they were offered scholarship and hence did not need to apply for a place in our universities.

As Singapore aspires to be an education hub, we cannot expect top foreign students to apply to our universities like locals - they have to be invite to our universities through offers of scholarship.

I met a lecturer from one of our universities the other day. He said many foreign students take advantage of a loophole in their scholarship requiring them to work 3 years in Singapore before leaving for other countries. They simply claim that they are unable to find jobs for 6 months and they are allowed to leave - thus getting a free education at the expense of Singaporeans!! Wah so wonder our beloved govt like them so much to give them free scholarship while Singaporeans like myself struggled through my university giving tuition on weekends and make ends meet by taking up bank loans for my fees. I took 5 years to clear my education debt after I got my 1st class honours from NUS. I guess my govt was afraid that I wasn't challenged this day I'm still thankful for the challenges they gave me. I guess they are kind enough to reserve such challenges for Singaporeans while foreign students are given scholarships and denied the benefit of shouldering the financial burdens that Singaporeans received.


at82 said...

Lucky Tan,

Would u consider educating Singaporeans the evils of democracy and how it is inferior to our system via this documentary? ;)

Anonymous said...

people are generally gullible. like blind sheeps, they tend to see one shade impressed on them by the media. almost on a daily basis, their minds have been conditioned( raped) to see things their way. so they make idols of people for society to worship and follow. well, no one shall dispute the good derived from such knowledge. but unfortunately, self consumption knowledge is a double edged sword. it delivers both good and evil. so in society, such structural knowledge will bless some and do harm to others. even hitler who perpetuate such knowledge(another form) can't be all evil right?otherwise, how to garner support from his followers?

problem with a people lulled to sleep by such quality of living is that, they have been made to see the good that such knowledge brings. the evil that send many to their deaths and destruction are often given an expert or professional perpective and dutifully dismissed.

i think, the unaccountable worldwide destruction of such knowledge may far exceed the atrocities committed even by hitler and all the likes put together.

but of course, we are too lucky and have been spared from the knowledge of good and evil.

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Anonymous said...

wow Lucky, you beat me to it. I was about to say liao... :)

Gan said total figure is 14,000 plus. But MOE say figure is 23,900. Such a huge discrepancy. Also those 4% who are admitted, are scholarship holders excluded? Gan is massaging the numbers but doing a lousy job at it. LOL

Anonymous said...

Aiyo, looks like they need another pay raise. Otherwise this is the quality of statistics you get right? I think if you went to NUS science faculty and threw a stone into the air, you get a much higher than 4% chance to hear someone swearing in a beijing accent. lol

Anonymous said...

S'pore is the only country in the world where the gahmen has to come and say citizens have priority. Even then, they have to do it with half-truths.

If all this things the PAP do without telling us is good for us, why don't they come clean and show us how we gain from all this.

Anonymous said...

How to show that you gain from their rulings when you gained only disadvantages from their 'running' you!

yh said...

if only 987 of the foreigners in our schools are paying student, that can only means that almost all foreigners are studying for free!

Anonymous said...

The truth is, we don't know what or who to believe nowadays.

Anonymous said...


MOE has contradicted Gan. Looks like Gan has misled the parliament.

LuckySingaporean said...


No lah. Gan did not mislead the parliament. It was just an honest mistake.

When Gan was counting he gave Singaporeans a higher priority and left out 4000 foreigners.

Anonymous said...

I am sure he 'regrets' the mistake.

Anonymous said...

His job is so tough, I think we should raise his pay to ensure that we continue to attract top talents to the Government Elite!

Anonymous said...

Can't really blame the the Minister. He simply answered the question!
The question asked in parliament was " How many foreign students applied to study at the universities?"

Foolish & incomplete question!

Someone should ask

What is total number of students studying at universities for each Year 07, 06 ,05 etc

For each year:-

What is total number of students studying at universities who are PRs

What is total number of students studying at universities who are holding student passes or other pass holders?

What is number of students on all or any kind of scholarship, bursary or other assistance scheme

How many Singapore citizens? PRs? Student or other pass holders?

faced with DIRECT questions, the Minister will have to give direct answers.

Then just repeat the procedure with Polys, ITE Secondary etc.

Anonymous said...

As a loyal and concerned citizen of this country, we have the right to expect that Minister Gan has the highest standard of communication. The question: How many foreign students applied to study at the universities? may appear sloppy (to some) but that does not imply that our Minister (highly paid for all his talent) apply the same sloppy standard to answer this question. If he is a competent minister, he should attempt to clarify first and then elaborate. One of the hallmarks of a member of parliament is that he/she is elected by the people for his/her good public communication skills!

Anonymous said...

Whether this useless minister tried to mislead or not can be deciphered in the way his ministry responded. Note that MOE uses the word clarification in the later report. Clarification is used when the intended recipient of the message does not understand or misunderstands. In this case the rightful word to use is correction, where the message sender made a mistake, or have intentionally or unintentionally withheld the full picture.

So by using the word clarification instead of correction, MOE's intent is clear, since there is no apology for the mistake made.

jon said...

ChannelNewsAsia (July 19th, by Pearl Forss) lied when they said "Top universities in the world, such as MIT, have more than 40 percent foreign students". (Recall that their context was made to support the govt's stance on why our universities reserved 20% of the undergraduate seats for foreigners?)

MIT website stated clearly that "International citizens" comprises only 8% of the undergraduate student profile!!

LuckySingaporean said...


If you visit MIT you might think there are 40% foreign students because you see many asians around...but they are probably asian americans! I made that mistake once when I was in LA, I asked a guy with a Vietnamese name whether he goes back to Vietnam often, he said he has NEVER been to Vietnam he is an american citizen. About half the people in California are not of European decent.

Anonymous said...

sounds to me that they want to make it look like the govt is not giving easy entry for foreign students...hmm.. are they trying to silence those angry singaporeans who cant get in..

for pete sakes the govt is practically luring the foreginers..the more the happier

no being biased or anything but arent dey only making it difficult for locals to be admitted? number of entry are limited

Anonymous said...

dey can pay me to count the number of foreign students in NTU and NUS...987 is a rip off...

myb tis mr gan guy is too busy to count properly...i can do d counting if dey pay me