“Finally”, “Why nothing before?” and “Why so long-delayed?” was what I tot when I read in early January that students who graduated from nine private schools in 2014 are being surveyed to find out what jobs they went into and what their wages are*. I tot of the survey again when I learnt that the O-Level results were released on Monday. And today when I went yo VJC’s Open House (I finally crossed the road to see how a JC works.).
Last year, around this time, I learnt that there are kids who decide to skip JC or poly to enroll in private schools like Kaplan in the expectation of getting degrees earlier and faster than their contemporaries who follow the traditional routes. Given that this is a really more expensive option than going to JC or poly (before going to uni); and given the stories we know of adults disappointed with the qualifications they have gotten, I wondered if these kids and their parents are really making informed decisions.
We all know of working people trying to upgrade themselves by attending part-time degree courses and then finding out that the degrees that they spent so much money, on and effort, on don’t impress existing or potential employers. Their degrees are often equated with “diplomas”.
Shume degrees are more equal than others, meh?
This is what ST reported in early January when telling us about the survey:
Among those being surveyed is Mr Daniel Ng, 30, who got his first degree in logistics management from Kaplan here in 2014.
The former logistics specialist will soon take on a managerial role in another supply chain firm. The job, which requires candidates to possess at least a degree, comes with a salary increase of about 50 per cent.
The former Temasek Polytechnic student ,who started working seven years ago, said getting a degree has created “more opportunities”.
He paid about $20,000 in all for his part-time degree and completed it in 18 months. “Having a degree makes a difference, especially when you are working in a multinational company. Degree holders start at a higher pay grade.”
But Mr Ng knows he is luckier than his peers. “I have friends who also went for a degree, but it made no difference to their work. It’s quite common and is partly why I didn’t pursue a degree earlier.”
Human resource expert David Leong, who runs PeopleWorldwide Consulting, said the survey is part of a long-term move to “align the different education pathways”.
“There are many who quit their jobs to focus full-time on getting their first degree, but they realise after graduating that they are marked against fresh grads who are just 22 or 23 years old,” he said, adding that in most cases, a private degree would translate to just a 5 to 10 per cent increase in pay for mid-career types.
Well the survey results will help inform kids, their parents and adults of the facts on the ground.
*The Council for Private Education (CPE), which regulates the private education sector, is leading the initiative, supported by the Ministry of Manpower and Ministry of Education (MOE).
The CPE told The Straits Times that the information collected will “help to guide future policy formulation for matters related to private education, manpower and graduate employment outcomes”.
A sample of the survey questionnaire asked respondents for their employment status in the year before they started their private studies and six months after completing their last exams at the private school.
They were also asked for their basic and gross monthly salaries before and after getting their degrees.
One question asked the graduates if they wished they had not furthered their studies at a private institute. If they answered yes, they would be asked to select the reason from a list of options, such as their qualification being not as well recognised by employers when compared to those of public institutions, or that the career prospects and wages associated with the degree were below expectations.
The nine schools are: Curtin Education Centre; ITC School of Laws; James Cook Australia Institute of Higher Learning; Kaplan Higher Education Institute; Management Development Institute of Singapore; Ngee Ann-Adelaide Education Centre; Singapore Institute of Management; SMF Institute of Higher Learning and Trent Global College of Technology and Management.
[Update at 3,30pm: U/m is an honest mistake. UmiSIM has done in 2014 survey]
What I find surprising is that graduates SIM University (UniSIM) are not being surveyed: The university is synonymous here with part-time degrees. It also recently started offering full-time programmes in accountancy, finance and marketing. It will introduce a fourth full-time degree in human resource management this year.
As I understand it, its fees of around $30,000 for a undergrauate degree are in line (if not more expensive) with those of the private schools taking part in the survey.