Friday, October 01, 2010

Ranking of Nanyang Technological University

Here is a comment posted in my survey.

The drop in ranking of NTU is indeed a sad day for Singapore because Singapore have actually spent large sum of money in an effort to raise the standard of NTU and their ranking.

The decline of NTU actually started many years ago when the second president was appointed. The person had no track record in running a university; so he did not know how to run the university. Why did the government appoint such a person?

After a few years, the government noted that no progress was made at NTU. So they appointed a provost - an elderly foreign gentleman completely fresh to NTU. Again, why did the government appoint such a person?

At that time, there was an exercise in raising the retirement age of professors from 55 to 65. In this exercise, those who were perceived to be good would be retained and they would be employed till 65. Those who were perceived to be poor were sacked. This exercise therefore had a huge impact on professors’ lives. Because of this, the whole atmosphere in NTU changed from being cooperative with each other to everyone for himself. By hook or by crook, many professors tried to get their retirement age extended. As reported in the newspapers, there was a consensus that the exercise was done unfairly and lack transparency. Why didn’t the NTU management carry out the exercise fairly with transparency?

This exercise has been going on for the last few years, and many professors were sacked. The biggest group affected was Singaporeans. The top management who were making decisions at the time was dominated by foreigners. Why did the government hire foreigners to sack their own citizens?

So, many Singapore professors lost their jobs. Other professors from overseas who lost their jobs have the option of returning home and get a university position there - but not the Singapore professors. Those who were sacked were also the ones who helped to build up NTU in the past (when NTU enjoyed a much higher ranking). Why didn’t the NTU management recognise their past contributions?

The management then proceeded to hire new professors and foreigners were preferred because it helped in the ranking (see the score on the international mix). So the Singaporeans were discriminated against even in their own country. Why did the government hire foreigners to discriminate against their own citizens?

After the results of the exercise have been made known, those who got the extension did not have to work hard because their employment was “guaranteed”. Those who did not get the extension had to work hard for a career outside NTU. So who was working hard for NTU? A scenario that could have easily foreseen even before the exercise started. Why didn’t the NTU management see it?

So, who are the winners? As Singapore lost plenty of money in hiring foreigners and ended up with a low ranking university - they cannot be the winners. NTU ended up being a low ranking university - they cannot be the winners. Singapore citizens lost their jobs - they cannot be the winners. Foreigners who made NTU worse and pocketed plenty of money from Singapore and will be going home happy – yes, foreigners are the winners. Congratulations to the winners!

Since we are all humans, so we live and learn. Hope the Singapore government will learn something from this episode. Foreigners by definition cannot have their hearts in Singapore. Only citizens can. May NTU and Singapore have a better future!


Unknown said...

Lucky I asked my two sons not to choose NTU. Both have chosen NUS!

C H Yak said...

Very vivid explanation. I think this is not just typical in NTU, it is also typical of many firms here, or even govt. bodies too. It is exactly how local PMETs are marginalised in pay and ranking...nothing to turn to, they will simply cast their frustrations and blame on FTs.

But then it is not only locals who are treated so harshly, the foreign ones even with PHD are given 3 years to get AP, if failed; one more chance and then out they go.

When ranking is further complicated by pay structure and promotion prospects, it get worse.
This problem must be solved in whole perspective.

I heard it is same problem with researchers in ex-John Hopkins Hospital & also A-Star.

Unknown said...

May I suggest you send your comment to the ST's forum? It is good for the public to know the problems at NTU and poke the authorities to take actions.

Ah John said...

President's explaination.

Heng Kok Hui said...

It is similary to employing a foreign army to fight your war. Singapore learnt this lesson in the history of Singapore during the Japanese occupation and hence created the Singapore Arm Forces. Imagine filling our army with mostly foreigners because they are better and more experienced. Does it make a better army? Hmmm...

Chris said...

Well, John, first it was the world war, then it was the National sports team, now NTU, no to mention many other cases not listed here or unknown to public. When will Singapore learn her lesson?

Mr Tan, so what are you suggesting? Changing the government? Or changing NTU management? Or both?

Jake said...

@John Heng
Very well said and thought provoking!

However, a possible counter situation is to say that the government is trying to "buy" enemy forces over, thinking that the opposing force is more superior that we cannot win the war without first bribing them.

Zech said...

@John Heng: Nicely phrased!

Sg's meritocratic environment does not give any privileges to locals. We have to paddle like everyone else (including our foreign counterparts) or drown. In fact, I would like to contend that foreigners have an advantage given that most male foreign expats would at least have had a 2 year headstart in their careers compared with local males.

Our country's economic outlook is doing well as a whole, but our social outlook seems to be taking a plunge. Is the famiLee taking care of the family, or just themselves?

Unknown said...

I think the author's thought is wrong,at least,is not right. The key problem to NTU's decline is the lack of competing atmosphere among NTU faculty and with other University. For Example, most of tenured Professors are just killing time during the daytime in School, many of them can not publish even one paper all year round neither applied for a project, the fees for experiment are from FYP projects. Most of these professor are just giving lecture to undergraduate student. The main reason to this dilema is that authorities can not exert strict requirements on singaporean faculty, Because they are afraid of being complained to MOM.

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