27 April 2006

Do Our Local Universities Really Know Which Singaporeans To Reject?

A reader, commenting on my previous post, quoted the following letter to the media:
April 26, 2006
Why doesn't NUS Business School consider National Service as working experience?

I refer to the letter 'Why NUS, NTU require GMAT?' (ST, April 21). I appreciate NUS's and NTU's stringent student selection criteria by requiring GMAT. But I would like to share another side of the story in this regard.

I am an executive pursuing a banking career in Singapore. I am the head of a team responsible for developing risk management policies and methodologies for a banking group and I am currently pursuing an Executive MBA (EMBA) programme.

In 2005, I approached three renowned institutions offering EMBA programmes in Singapore, namely the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (GSB) - EMBA; Insead - EMBA; and NUS Business School - APEX MBA.

In a recent global MBA ranking 2006 by Financial Times, Chicago GSB is ranked 6th, Insead 8th and NUS Business School 92nd. All three programmes have stringent admission requirement of which one is for a period of working experience.

Chicago GSB, Insead and NUS require a minimum of 10 years' full-time work experience and a candidate must hold a senior position or have the potential to assume senior managerial positions.

Special consideration is given to candidates with eight to nine years' experience on a case-by-case basis. I have clocked eight years including two-plus years' National Service.

I applied to Chicago GSB and have been accepted in the EMBA programme. The distinct impression I got from Chicago GSB and Insead is that they are dynamic, open-minded and they consider candidates on their credentials and potential for growth.

They also give due credit to the two-plus years of National Service and consider it as workking experience. When I approached NUS Business School as a possible alternative and appealed to the programme's manager for special consideration on grounds of my credentials and acceptance in Chicago GSB, I was told that "National Service does not count as working experience and I am surprised that you even got into Chicago GSB."

As a result of that episode in 2005, I think that contrary to the recent advertisements of NUS Business School that describe it as 'The right answer to business education', in my humble opinion, I think it is the wrong answer to business education.

Gary Chong Pooi Lon

This letter reminds me of one of my own comments on my preceding post. There, I had written:
"The irony is that I think most of us will know (or even ourselves be) Singaporeans who could not make it to NUS/NTU/SMU, but made it to some quite reputable overseas university (ironically, often ranked higher than NUS, NTU or SMU itself) and proceeded to get a degree there, often scoring well."
Gary Chong's case somewhat illustrates this. He applies to do his MBA. NUS Business School - APEX MBA (ranked world no. 92) rejects Gary. But the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (GSB) - EMBA (ranked world no. 6) accepts Gary.

With great enthusiasm, our local universities welcome "high-quality foreign students" and (necessarily) reject some Singaporeans in order to make way for those "high-quality foreign students". However, many of those rejected Singaporeans are not inherently incapable or stupid or dumb. In fact, some of them, like Gary CHong, are outstanding enough to qualify for foreign universities far, far superior to NUS, NTU or SMU.

Cases like Gary's immediately cast doubt on the ability of our local universities to attract or identify foreign students who are really of such "high quality" that our own Singaporean citizens ought to be displaced.


Unknown said...

Could it be that, our local universities are moving towards operating like a corporate than a school? And thus revenue is more important than education?

moomooman said...

actually, I do have a very narrow mind about this.

2 years of National Service consider as working experience?

And that guy actually feels that his 2 years of NAtional Service is worth mentioning in his application as work experience just to mark up the number of years he actually worked?

I feel that is a bit pathatic.

But of course the issue here is not about NS. His 6 years of experience is deemed good enuff for Chicago GSB but not NUS.

Maybe Chicago GSB needed the 100k course fee to sustain their local operations.

Maybe I should go try for it. I have 11.5 years of experience including National Service.

Anonymous said...

Boy, do i have my problem with NUS too. i didn't manage to grad, i didn't manage to transfer to some other faculty due to poor grades at a particular faculty.

hugewhaleshark said...

In MBTI speak, this is too much "ST" and not enough "NT". In local speak, too "si si" and "ti ti" ("dead dead" and "straight straight"). Unfortunately this is all to common, in Singapore's schools, government departments, corporates. It is a cultural thing.

Anonymous said...

hey Mr Wang, i wanted to write to the Straits Times but changed my mind. Nothing changes anyway, so i though i would write here to express my grievance and share my thought with potentially more like-minded people about education in Singapore (well.. sorry.. i'm quite pro PAP though, but i enjoy your blog ^^)

as far as i know, ASEAN, SIA (or whatever you can name it) scholarships are posted to the top 7 JCs of Singapore, RJC, HCJC, VJC, NJC, TJC, ACJC, SAJC and AJC. The scholars lead a all expense paid study trip in Singapore, some of them, their families are filthy rich. but there are NO such scholarships for Singaporeans. they get edusave bursary and stuff like that, but that CANNOT support their daily expenses.

what i'm unhappy about is, majority of the scholars are just above average, and some, are just plain poor. for locals, they have to go through an intensive scrutiny before they get financial assistance (as far as i know, please correct me if i'm wrong)

for those who have to support themselves, they have to work part-time (as tutors for the smart/cunny ones) and thus making them less competitive due to the less time they have to study.

And the recent articles really dampen my morale for the country, it's so apparent that our community is embracing foreigners with rose-tinted glass.

p.s. my comments are refering to the general trend i observe, if i have unintentionally offend any groups of people, i apologise.


Anonymous said...

The local unis, esp NUS and NTU, knows which Singaoprean to reject, jus solely by the entry grades only. It is sad tt the local unis set very high entry requirements, some courses even higher compared to other better ranking unis. N i do agree tt the local unis are operating more like a corporation than a school. For example, NUS business school has been advertising about how gd the school is. And where does it gets the funds from? I presume it is from the student's tuition fees. And if the school is really tt good, does it even nid to advertise in the 1st place? From wat I c, among the 3 business schools, NUS has not been faring v well. If not, then i dun c y NTU isnt promoting the business school? NTU business school is one of the best business schools in Singapore. If a school is good, does it needs to b advertised? I dun c harvard advertising the schools. For SMU, advertising is necessary as it is afterall, a new university. So dun be saddened and angry. If NUS does not accept u, it is their loss. Afterall NUS business school isnt one of the best either. N the way the unis operate will only result in less people being attach to their unis. As one can c, y is it tt harvard and MIT has enormous fundings, but there is no mentioning of the funds from the graduates of local unis? If the unis admission system can b flexible, pp wif average grades who could not get into uni initially but is given a second chance and accepted by the uni will definitely b grateful to their alma mater. This kind of attachment will in turn bring in funds for the local unis. But its jus sad tt the unis here jus dun c the point.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous

You are judging the quality of the 3 schools based on whether they have been advertising? I see. That is kind of a narrow mindset I say.

And actually NTU Business do advertise; just that you didnt notice. And I wonder why..

More to the issue of student admission, shouldnt we commend our NUS business school for having stringent entry requirements? Think about it, the beauty of an Executive-MBA course lies in the quality and experience of the participating students themselves. And I believe it is precisely why NUS is adhering so strongly to the minimum 10 yrs of working experience requirement. We should applaud the school for maintaining and upholding the quality of its admissions, instead of relaxing on its entry requirements to maximize its revenue.

Anonymous said...

NS sucks 2 years of our lives away. That isn't very fair in the first palce.

"I am M! I want to disrupt!!"

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous (Sunday, May 07, 2006 11:38:08 PM)

As observed, the so-called 'stringent' requirements didn't get NUS anywhere near the top. So, the number of years has not proved to be an accurate gauge of a person's potential.

Not only has NUS failed to see (or worse, acknowledge) that there is something wrong with the requirement, they are also rigidly adhering to it. Unfortunately, being rigid is not the same as being stringent.

Alternatively, we could ascribe the anomaly to the quality of the program or the faculty. But that is another story althogether.

Anonymous said...

cannot be wat ... hiring all those foreign scumbags & still no result? ROTFLOL ...

2 papsmear supporter, zed: after yr honest & heartfelt post, can u still put yr hand on yr heart & support d dynasLEE ??? wake-up lah, bodoh - those degenerates only treasure outsiders & treat its citizens beneath contempt: bullying us & denying us our basic human rights ... phui ... the day will come, man ...