NUS 2011: We set even more ’stringent’ admission criteria for international studentsThe debate about Singaporeans sponsoring foreigners to study in local universities was re-ignited again following the entry of former education minister Dr Tony Tan into the coming presidential contest with many Singaporeans lampooning him for his ‘foreigner first’ education policies which discriminate against locals.
An irate Singaporean Adam Liew wrote in to the Straits Times Forum yesterday pointing out that while polytechnic students are admitted into local universities based on a strictly defined admissions score, comprising 80 per cent polytechnic results and 20 per cent O-level results, there is no clearly defined way of calculating the admissions score for international students, some of whom can’t even string a proper sentence in English together.
He also took issue with the fact that foreign students are sponsored by Singapore taxpayers at the expense of locals:
“…most needy local students have had to seek financial refuge in loans and bursaries, both of which do not provide complete financial relief. Contrast this situation to that of the foreign students: Financial aid for them does not only come in the shape of exclusive scholarships, but also in Education Ministry tuition grants.”
R Rajaram, the Director of Office of Admissions, NUS replied today in the forum claiming that NUS’s ‘merit-based’ admissions policies have always put ‘Singaporeans first.’
“Unlike local students, international applicants come from different educational systems. Hence NUS is unable to stipulate specific requirements for each type of international qualification. But this does not mean the admission process is less rigorous. On the contrary, admission for international students is significantly more competitive than that for local students. The university sets even more stringent criteria for international students to make sure that only high-quality students are admitted.”
However Mr Rajaram refused to divulge the ’stringent criteria’ which NUS has set for foreign scholars, many of whom are from China who cannot speak proper English. Neither does NUS require foreign students to take and pass an English proficiency test like IELTS or TOEFL.
He added that government bursaries are available only to Singaporeans while conveniently ignoring the the more generous scholarships given to foreign students:
“Government bursaries are available only to Singaporeans. This allows Singaporeans to tap a wide range of financial assistance schemes, including loans. Through a combination of such aid, Singaporean students from two-thirds of all households (that is, up to the 66th percentile of household income) can complete their education in a publicly funded university without any cash outlay.”
NUS should stop obfuscating the issue and come clean with Singaporeans on the following:
1. The number of foreign students it accept each year including those on MOE scholarships.
2. The amount of money spent sponsoring these foreign students in the last ten years.
3. The final year results of foreign students.
4. The number of foreign scholars who broke their bonds or left Singapore for good each year.
5. The number of Singapore students who were rejected for each course.
Till the above statistics are revealed to the public, Singaporeans will have to take NUS’s ‘clarification’ with a heavy dose of salt.