ST Forum, Oct 24, 2005Sorry, I just fail to see the significance of this event.
Can ex-exchange student evade his conscience?
I AM writing in response to the report, 'Exchange student's switch to US varsity surprises NTU' (ST, Oct 20), on engineering student Cheng Yi Wei's switch to Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta while on an exchange programme from the Nanyang Technological University.
It is unfortunate that Mr Cheng, 24, failed to consider the implications
of his actions:
By accepting to study in NTU initially, he deprived another student a precious chance to study there;
By taking advantage of the exchange programme to switch to another university, he deprived another NTU student of the rare opportunity to take part in the programme; and
By doing so, he abused the trust that NTU had placed in its undergraduates.
It was shocking to read that Mr Cheng said he could do it since he was not 'legally bound'.
This event has had severe consequences - now NTU will have to legally bind its students on aspects that would not have been an issue when there was trust. Has our society degenerated to such a level that a six-month programme needs legal contracts?
While Mr Cheng managed to evade the legal repercussion of his actions, he cannot avoid his conscience.
What we do in life echoes in eternity - this a line from the movie Gladiator. Singapore society cannot thrive in a web of legal boundaries, but on the ethics of the people.
Kelvin Law Wei Ming
Say I join NTU. I study there. Then I decide to leave NTU. I could leave for any number of reasons. For example, I may have personal family problems. Or financial problems. Or I realise that I really have no interest in my chosen course.
What's so wrong about that?
Then suppose I leave NTU because I decide that I prefer to pursue my education somewhere else, which I feel is better suited for me.
What's so wrong about that?
This Cheng Yi Wei chap was on an exchange programme. So? An exchange programme is just another university activity. It's another part of the overall curriculum. In fact, I understand that in NUS and NTU, it has become a rather ordinary part of the overall curriculum - there are MANY exchange programmes being run with MANY other universities for students in MANY different faculties and disciplines.
So what is the big deal here? Just because a student was on an exchange programme, therefore he cannot decide to switch universities?
Mr Wang offers you two different ways of looking at this matter. The first way is to view Cheng Yi Wei as a customer. He is a customer because he pays school fees to NTU to study there. The second way is to view Cheng Yi Wei as talent. He is talent in the same way that all bright, educated Singaporeans are talents.
If you choose to see Cheng as a customer, then the moral of the story is that customers are not necessarily loyal. Customers pay for what they want, and if they can get better value elsewhere, then they go. So if you're running a business, your job is to make sure that you deliver well enough to keep your customers. If you don't, well, too bad.
If you choose to see Cheng as talent, then the moral of the story is the same story that has been actively playing out in Singapore for the past seven, eight years. Talent is mobile. It has the capability to uproot itself and move elsewhere. So if you'd like to keep your talent, you have to create an environment where talent wants to stay.
That's it. Simple as that.