Someone asked, "Being denied of the chance to further your studies in Singapore with no reasons given, do you think local students will feel attached to their homeland? This is no longer the Singapore they know and love anymore."
Here is my reply.
1. I observe that many students who studied abroad return to Singapore. A few may stay back to work in the countries where they had studied, but is is not easy to find jobs there anyway.
2. Many students are now pursuing degrees of overseas universities that are conducted in Singapore. This helps to reduce the expenses for them and their parents.
3. I am, therefore, not so concerned about the perceived "brain drain" or the "loss of loyalty to Singapore". While this may occur, the impact is likely to be small.
4. My bigger concern is the large sums that are being spent on university degrees, which may not help the graduate in getting a job or a higher salary that justify the time and expenses. Some of them find it hard to get a job. Others complained that employers prefer candidates with working experience.
5. If some of these people do not pursue a degree, they can spend the time to acquire work and practical experience that maybe more relevant to them and the economy.
6. Our challenge is to get rid of the old mindset that favors paper qualification compared to practical experience. If people with practical experience can earn as well as those with degree, it will encourage our students to pursue the right types of training that will serve the economy better.
7. This change has to be led by the public service, which is the largest employer, and by the big companies. They have to set the right strategy for others to follow.