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.