Monday, December 21, 2009

Changes in school fees for non citizens

New school fees for public schools in Singapore

The following are the fee changes that will come into effect in year 2011.

Primary Level 2009 2011 2012 (Annual fees in S$)
Singapore citizen 132 132 132
Permanent resident 174 396 612
Intl student(Asean) 1752 2352 2952
Intl student(others) 1872 3072 4272

Secondary Level
Singapore citizen 252 252 252
Permanent resident 264 552 852
Intl student(Asean) 2532 3312 4092
Intl student(others) 2712 4272 5832

Junior college/CI
Singapore citizen 336 336 336
Permanent resident 348 780 1224
Intl student(Asean) 4224 5424 6624
Intl student(others) 4464 6864 9264

The Singapore American school fees for primary and intermediate levels are $22,100 per year.

The article is copied from Asian Correspondent.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bloggers score big!

The bloggers have scored their first major victory over the issue of citizenship privileges over non citizens in school fees. Bloggers have cried foul on behalf of all citizens that they were treated no better than PRs and non citizens, and in many instances it is better and more advantages to be PRs and non citizens than citizens. Today the Ministry of Education has announced sweeping changes in school registrations and school fees to differentiate between citizens and non citizens.

These changes will take effect in year 2011 and 2012. Children of citizens will now get an additional ballot slip to boost their chances for enrolment in their preferred schools. The meaty part is the hike in school fees which will see children of PRs paying up to 2 times in year 2011 or 4 times in 2012. Non resident children or international students will also see comparative hikes in their school fees up to junior colleges.

Would these changes have come about if there were no bloggers to whine about or kpkb in cyberspace? Would the main media do the necessary and bring about the changes by reporting the grouses of the citizens the way the bloggers have done? I think credit must be given to all bloggers who have played their painful and unrecognised role in this matter. Some injustice to the citizens have now been squared.

This is the first step towards recognising the citizens and rewarding them for the huge sacrifices and responsibilities they shouldered for the country. The next targets should be hospitalisation fees and housing. More restrictions should be placed on PRs buying public flats even if they have bought them from the open market to prevent speculative activities. The same levies should be imposed on them, including a number of years before they are allowed to resell.

More needs to be done to enhance the value of citizenship and give dignity to the citizens in other areas. Bloggers must continue to play their roles to champion the cause of the citizens.

The article is copied from Asian Correspondent.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blogger in defamation suit

Jayne Goh, the founder of the Association of Bloggers of Singapore which does not represent the majority of bloggers except a few founding members, has been judged by the High Court to have defamed a teacher, Janet Wong, for being corrupt. In her blog she 'alleged that Mrs Wong accepted bribes in return for allowing foreign students admission into her school. Jayne alleged in her blog that Mrs Wong demanded 'a $3,000 cash donation for each student placed in the school...and that entrance tests for such students were fixed'.

The case is now pending appeal or Jayne Goh would have to pay damages for failing to remove the article as demanded by Janet Wong.

What is important to bloggers is that the internet and blogging give bloggers a lot of freedom to write and express their views. But bloggers should be careful not to exceed the limitations of such rights to encroach into other people's rights. And posting scandulous or defamatory articles could bring about lawsuits which are very costly. Bloggers should feel free to express their views on issues and differences or disagreements are fair game. Comments that may be interpreted as personal attacks or affecting the integrity and reputation of individuals should be tackled sensitively and diplomatically.

We will have more news of this case since it is the first major case involving bloggers here.

The article is copied from Asian Correspondent.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Taking a different dig at the private education scene

The editorial of the Straits Times applauded the new measures to protect students from premature closure of private schools. The additional requirements by the MOE will give students some peace of mind, at least they would not lose all their money, and there is an option of placement in other private schools. What was not addressed is the time and effort lost while being a student of fly by night schools or con shops. The other good things are Singapore's reputation as an education hub and the Singapore Brand which will be protected in some ways.

Looking at the other side, a lot of people will lose their jobs or income. The ST editorial says it is a good thing to let the weaker private schools close shop. When that happens, the teaching staff and administrative staff will lose their jobs if more private schools find it difficult to operate here. The landlords will not be able to let out their office space, and all the people in the supporting industry will be affected. The value of commercial properties will go down as well. That is bad for those who have plonked their money in such properties.

What will happen is that with more controls it will restrain the entrepreneur spirit of the businessmen to make a quick buck. Don't forget that this is one of the secrets of our success story. Entrepreneurship will be curtailed. This is bad too as we are promoting entrepreneurship for those who have lost their jobs. Making money opportunities will also be limited. This is contrary to what private education is all about. The private educationist and entrepreneurs will disagree with this. They will definitely insist that private education is about education. Is it or it isn't is subjective. I concede that the good private schools are doing a good job in providing the opportunities for students to get their education when the public schools could not offer them. This is a very good cause and reason for private schools.

We have a conflict of interest don't we? We want to provide education and also make money but we can't have it all with more restrictions on the entrepreneurs or cheats. A possible solution to have the cake and eat it is to have two kinds of private schools. One will have full govt endorsement and abide by all the good regulations. In another sector, let it be free for all, no regulations and students beware, caveat emptor hor. And I think many would love that, including some special groups of students, and the cheat operators of course. There is a market for bogus schools, really, no bluffing. Not a bad suggestion isn't it? Catering for the good, the bad and the ugly. And we will have a very vibrant education scene and more foreign students will come to our shore.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Protecting fees of private schools students

The Ministry of Education has come up with new regulations under the Private Education Act to protect students from losing their tuition fees paid in case of the schools closing down. The change means that private schools can now collect only two months of fees in advance or 6 months if they purchasing a fee protection insurance. With these changes private students can at worst lose a few months of their fees. What a big help. Is money the only thing that needs protection? What about the wasted time, the anguish, and the psychological consequences of a young student being caught in such a dilemma? Hehe, we can only think of money. Money is our culture.

Then students were told to be vigilant. It is still caveat emptor! Does the authority think that the culprits or cheats that caused the mess need to be punished as well? Where is the big stick? They should have learnt from the stock exchange where little human mistakes of a few hundred dollars can result in thousands of dollars of fines. Mind you, it is human error and not fraud or bad intention. The punitive penalties have struck fear in the remisiers for making mistakes. But mistakes they will make as they are not demigods or immortals. And they will be very very careful.

The MOE should adopt a similar policy and strike fear among the fraudsters and cheats in the private education industry. Make the punishment punitive and fearful enough to keep them away. Here we are talking about crimes and bad intention and these must surely deserve more severe punishment than pure human errors. Without such punishment, the lure of easy money from innocent and vulnerable foreign students will be too attractive for the cheats to continue what they are doing. The MOE must send out a strong signal that they mean business and has the resolve to want to clean up the industry of such pests.

The above article is copied from Asian Correspondent.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

1 D and 2 ungraded subjects for A level

A blogger from UK posted a comment in that a student with the above grades was admitted for a degree course in management by a 'university'. He could not confirmed the name but thought it was unlikely to be SIM or SMU. He did mentioned something like SUM.

Would there be any university or 'university' in Singapore admitting students with such grades? The fact that this piece of news travelled all the way to UK speaks a lot about the going on's in the education scene here. And it cannot be good news. People are starting to raise the red flag, questioning the quality of our education hub.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Singapore Education Brand - Does anyone bother?

This guy handed me his name card and it read, Dr Boh Tak Cheh, CEO, Karanguni Enterprise. He gave me that big and confident smile, telling me that he had arrived. He owned a very big and successful business in collecting old and secondhand goods and resell them for profits. He had done well. He told me that his good friend, the headman of Sungei Road Thief Market, as it was well known for selling secondhand and stolen goods, has also acquired a doctorate from a foreign university which he did not know where. Many successful Singaporeans are now flashing their doctorates in their name cards. For these new towkays, they have done exceedingly well in their businesses. I always tell them that they don't need that stupid degree to be respectable. When Dr Boh Tak Cheh parks his Mercedes 400 at the entrance of the hotel, the doormen will all rush to open his car door. I have to quietly sneak in myself without anyone noticing that I have been there.

People like Dr Boh would probably be directors of several companies and chairmans of many social and business organisations. We should salute such men and women who have done well and contribute to society in their own ways.

What is troublesome is that there are many unaccredited colleges that claim to be universities and setting up shops here to issue degrees to the point that Singapore has appear in the infamous list of unaccredited institutions and degree mills of the Oregon's Office of Degree Authorisation. The six Singaporean institutions named in Sandra Davie's article in the ST are Cranston University, Templeton University, Trident University of Technology, Vancouver University Worldwide, Westmore University and the last one, with the gumption to call itself Lee Community College, also set up business here.

For several years since the liberalisation and the ambition plan to turn Singapore into an education hub, the education scene is like no man's land. Quite a number of private schools have failed and left students, both foreign and locals, stranded, wasted their time and money cheated. As if these were not enough signals to warrant some kind of enforcement, things seems to go on as per normal. Nothing happen leh.

Other than the diminishing value and credibility in the Singapore Education Brand, the saddest part is that innocent students came to be swindled off their hard earned money, and some wasted years all for nothing. Anyone feeling guilty or responsible? In a hotel when there is no ownership and everyone only thinks about his big bonus and holidays, such neglect is a likely outcome. When will god get angry?

Despite the setbacks, there are many honorable people who have came into the education scene and have filled a gap for the hungry students who wanted to further their studies. They have done a noble job to provide the opportunities that are otherwise not there, for students to chase their dreams for a better education and a better life. The works of these honorable people in providing education to those who needed them could be tarnished and negatively affected by the sheer lack of enforcement to ensure that the black sheep are weeded out.

When education is not about education but making money, indiscretion and fraud are bound to be occur. This is not restricted just to this industry. Medical health, insurance, legal services, the financial industry etc etc, are also victims to this profit making mindset, when making money supercedes all considerations, even ethics and morality.

How long will the Singapore Brand be battered before it goes into the gutters? Who is responsible?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Singapore on list of ‘degree mill’ countries

SINGAPORE, Nov 26 — Degree mills that churn out ‘graduates’ at the drop of a hat are the sort of dodgy outfits we link with shadier parts of the world, but the problem is a lot closer to home and threatens to harm Singapore’s name as an education centre.

Small as it is, the country appears six times on a list compiled by Oregon’s Office of Degree Authorisation (ODA).

The American state has strict laws regarding the use of qualifications from unaccredited institutions and those dubbed “degree mills” or “degree suppliers”.

It requires that a person’s business cards, CV and letterhead declare if his degree is from an unaccredited university.

The term — degree or diploma mill — has been used in the United States and around the world to refer to “substandard or fraudulent colleges that offer potential students degrees with little or no serious work”.

They range from those which are simple frauds — an address to which people send money in exchange for a degree — to those that require some nominal work from the student but do not require the college-level study normally required for a degree.

Oregon’s laws make its list one of the most comprehensive compiled by a state government body in the United States.

It names six institutions here as offering unaccredited qualifications: Cranston University, Templeton University, Trident University of Technology, Vancouver University Worldwide, Westmore University and Lee Community College.

Names of institutions go on the list if there are queries made by members of the public. Checks are carried out on the status of the university both in the US and with foreign governments before they are put on the list.

Checks by The Straits Times found that Westmore University’s website is hosted by a company operating out of Science Park.

Vancouver University Worldwide, which was ordered to be shut by the Canadian government two years ago, had offered its courses here for a few years.

Several insurance industry professionals have MBAs, while some even have doctorates, from the university.

A few Singaporeans were also found to have degrees from Cranston University and Templeton University. Both are listed as online universities, based in Singapore and possibly Nevada.

The Palin School of Arts and Design in Bras Basah lists Trident University of Technology degrees, but Palin officials say that currently they are not offering the degree programme in advertising and design.

ODA’s list says Trident was denied approval by the state of Wisconsin and it was never legal in New Jersey as claimed.

But what was surprising was the presence on the list of Lee Community College. The private school has a CaseTrust for Education quality mark and is popular for its diploma courses in counselling and psychology.

The Straits Times found that the school, in Maxwell Road, also offers a degree from the American University for Humanities (AUH), which a staff member said is accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education.

ODA’s website has this to say about the American university: “New name for American University of Hawaii, which was closed by court order. Operations claiming accreditation from The American Academy for Liberal Education in Lebanon do not meet Oregon legal requirements and degrees are not valid here. Degrees issued from Delaware are not valid in Oregon.”

Although the school has been offering degree courses for years, a check with the Ministry of Education (MOE) revealed that Lee Community College is not approved to offer any external degree programmes.

An MOE spokesman said the matter would be investigated.

It warned that new regulations require all private schools to seek permission from the new statutory board, the Council for Private Education (CPE) before offering external degree programmes, including online programmes.

Non-compliance may lead to deregistration of the private school and prosecution of its officials.

Lee Community College’s chief executive, Dr Frederick Toke, said the school spent over US$100,000 (RM338,000) to seek accreditation for the degree programme, which was from the American University for Humanities in Tbilisi, Georgia.

It was accredited by the American Academy for Liberal Education, a recognised accrediting agency in the US for liberal arts institutions, but was rejected by the MOE.

Toke did not explain why the school continued to offer the degree despite the MOE rejection. He would only say that the school is now seeking MOE approval to run other degree programmes from the US.

Alan Contreras, the administrator for Oregon’s ODA, said Singapore never used to feature on the ODA’s list.

“The problem Singapore has is that it opened the door to private post-secondary education without establishing a serious governmental oversight process to make those providers prove that they are legitimate,” he said.

“In effect, your government has allowed its name to be used inappropriately because only government authorised colleges can issue genuine degrees.”

Contreras also warned: “Without enforcement of standards by the government, anything goes. This is why the reputation of degrees issued in Singapore is falling.”

The MOE said that under the new laws that will come into effect by the end of the year, the Council for Private Education will run checks on these claimed partnerships.

“These measures will help ensure that dubious programmes offered by degree mills will not be permitted by CPE to be offered in Singapore,” said the spokesman.

But the new laws have come too late for a 26-year-old who attended evening classes and did course work for over three years for an AUH degree from Lee Community College.

The administrative manager hopes the new laws for private schools will ensure that only valid degrees are offered here.

“I took up the degree because I was interested in a counselling career. I spent more than US$20,000 of my hard-earned money to study for the degree. Now I find out that it is worthless.” — The Straits Times

The above article was posted in Malaysian Insider on 28 Nov 09. It tells the story of complacency and neglect in policing, or at best a tidia apa attitude and hiding behind caveat emptor while innocent students fall prey to dubious degree mills. Singapore cannot afford such lax attitude as it has a reputation to maintain as an education hub. But with no ownership, with everyone looking for someone to carry the can, it is like no man's land. And this thing has been going on for too long and will only do harm to the island's aspiration as an education hub for quality education and the Singapore Brand.

But they is still hope. Wait for LKY to say something and things will get moving.

Top PSLE students

The below article is copied from the Straits Times

Nov 26, 2009 The Straits Times
Top PSLE girl from China
By Jennani Durai

THIS year's top student in the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) could barely speak any English when she moved here from China in 2006 with her family.

Qiu Biqing, 13, from Qifa Primary School, achieved an aggregate score of 290, with four A*s and a Distinction in Higher Chinese.

Her father, Mr Qiu Guo Hua, 45, is a research fellow at the National University of Singapore, and her mother, Madam Xie Xiaojin, 42, is a research assistant there. They both work in a physiology lab.

The top Indian pupil this year is Muhammad Saad Siddiqui from Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), and the top Malay pupil is Syafiqah Nabilah Bte Shamshera from Raffles Girls' Primary School.

Biqing said that she improved her English by reading a lot, and not being afraid to speak aloud even if she made mistakes.

She has a place in Raffles Girls' School through the Direct Schools Admission process and hopes to become a lawyer or a novelist.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Education for the real world

Below is an interesting article on what the education scene will be in Singapore down the road. We are reinventing education in more ways than the advanced countries of the West. We are hitting new grounds and carving out a niche for ourselves in education in our own ways. We are edupreneurs.

Saturday November 21, 2009
Education for the real world

Government plans call for developing school pupils in other than academic pursuits, with less emphasis on exams, to equip young people better for life. But some parents still baulk at the change.

FOR years, Singapore’s schools have been steering a bit away from their traditional teaching towards a 21st century “ideas” economy. The pursuit, however, has been sporadic rather than countrywide. But come 2016, an institutional transformation will take place in all primary schools.

The revamp, announced last week, is aimed at making pupils adept at not only Science and English, but also at thinking and communicating.

In seven years’ time – when enough buildings and teachers are in place – all Singapore primary schools (attended by thousands of foreigners) will introduce full-day sessions.

More importantly, they will do away with mid- and end-year exams in Primary One and Two, and only graduates would be allowed to teach.

The future classroom will introduce 7- and 8-year-olds to outdoor education, where music and visual arts will be given as much importance as traditional subjects.

“For kids of this age, exams will not figure at all,” one official said. They will be replaced by assessments of a student’s progress.

Thirdly, children will be encouraged to take up co-curricular activities (CCAs) from Primary 1.

On the longer hours, a senior official said: “We are not adding on academic content to make it a burden to students; we’re trying to build their life skills as well as values, … rebalancing the focus of our system.”

Education Minister Dr Ng Eng Hen said: “We want to have caring citizens ... and students to be independent learners and confident (people).”

These changes, to be extended later to secondary schools, will in part end a system inherited from the British that emphasised exams and rote learning.

It proved successful in producing an educated, disciplined workforce that turned Singapore into a developed nation. Besides, the secondary schools are regularly ranked the world’s top three in Science and Maths.

But in a world in which nations compete with ideas and technical skills, Singapore’s education system has outlived some of its usefulness.

In my course of reporting in recent years, I have frequently heard executives of multinational corporations complain that our data-skilled workers lack initiative and require hand-holding.

This is what the new education system hopes to rectify. The result so far has been impressive.

One neighbourhood primary school has infused robotics into its science teaching, with students designing simple robots and learning about their inner workings.

Thousands of students at another school are taught not only to identify a healthy, nutritious meal, but also to cook it.

Others require their pupils to write compositions on a tablet PC, using PowerPoint for images and colour fonts.

At Hougang Primary, seven-year-olds share their classrooms with an assortment of insects, plants and skeleton frames.

The secondary schools are even more into the game, including practising entrepreneurship.

At a premium school they ran an art gallery carnival, drawing up proposals for manpower costing, concept plans and profit margins.

These experiments are not confined to the top schools. Many “unbranded” ones also excel in them.

One of them has allowed students to operate a general store that sells products and services (like photocopying) to other students. In Jurong Junior College and Fuchun Primary, students can buy shares in businesses in their schools.

Junior college students have met to tackle Singapore’s declining birth rates, while polytechnic youths created a new fragrance and began marketing it to romancing couples – and invented a health-food chocolate for sale to the public.

The strategy is to develop students who are not academically inclined but skilled in other areas like IT, music, sports or designing.

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said Singapore’s economy needs all kinds of talented people.

“We now have to try and bring up people who do not necessarily do well in the universities, but who will do well in life,” he said.

On the weaknesses of the current system, one blogger said it successfully produced many A-grade students who were unable to put knowledge to good use “like starting a business.”

Not everyone believes this change can be achieved soon, at least not until the government relaxes its control on this regulated society.

Some do not think it can be – or need be – done at all. Parents who have a fixation on exams and high marks are among the biggest stumbling blocks.

A prominent blogger quoted from a speech given by Sir Ken Robinson, an expert in creative and cultural education, who said children had no need to be taught to be creative.

The reason: they already are creative, and often it is the schools that are educating them out of their creative capabilities, he said.

On the subject of feared failure, Sir Ken said: “Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong ...

“By the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies this way. We stigmatise mistakes,” he added.

The determination of Singapore’s mothers to fight for their children’s high grades has played a major role in the nation’s education.

With the new strategy, it could prove negative for their kids when they fail to re-adapt.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Be flexible in teaching Chinese: MM Lee

Wed, Nov 18, 2009
my paper

By Kenny Chee

CHINESE LANGUAGE teachers need to embrace innovative ways of teaching young people the centuries- old language, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said yesterday.

They need to interest their students, through the use of drama, information technology or other activities that youths are passionate about, he said.

They should also focus on honing their students' ability to comprehend and speak the language, rather than on writing skills, which are more difficult to master, he added.

He had this message for them: 'This is the way you are going to go. Use IT, use drama, use every possible method to capture the interest of the children. It doesn't matter what level you teach.'....

The above extract is from

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bouquet for NorthLight School

Mrs Chang Wai Leng wrote to the Straits Times.

My son Chang Shu Ren was featured in Monday's report on NorthLight School, 'Success on their "last chance". He had always struggled academically and was going nowhere in his studies. So it was a joy to me when NorthLight was set up in 2007.

I asked the principal, Mrs Chua Yen Ching, to make an exception and admit him. I had faith that a school with a mission to give a second chance to the academically weak and equip them with the right skills and attitude to succeed in life was the best place for my child.

And our family has been richly rewarded by the growth in confidence and maturity of our son. If there is one word that best describes NorthLight, it is 'heart'. Everything is done for the good of its students and their families.

This heart thing is quite losing its existence in a materialistic city like ours. Good to hear that heart is still around.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Can students assume that all is ok?

With the closing of Brookes Business School and its subsidiary school, can students attending classes in all the existing private schools feel secure that they will not get into the same problem as those from these two schools?

Case's Executive Director Seah Seng Choon has explained that CaseTrust is just about protecting the fees students paid and welfare practices. The role of ensuring academic excellence is the responsibility of Spring Singapore.

In 2004, EDB's press statement said that an accreditation council was supposed to be set up. This somehow did not materialise. Can we assume that all the private schools thus did not go through a screening process to ensure that what they claimed were genuine and that all of them are sound and proper?

A new regime will be set up under EduTrust to regulate private schools and the quality of the services they are providing. Until then, Case is stepping up to check on private schools to see that all is in order. There is a lapse of 5 years of free enterprise when everything goes. 5 years of caveat emptor while the foul smell was floating around and with several other incidents and several schools closed down.

What a pathetic state of affair that was allowed go on for so long without any body stepping in to protect the students and the image of a reliable and world class education hub that we are building.

Can students assume that everything is ok now?

Friday, July 24, 2009

A summary of the education scene by Seah Chiang Nee

Saturday July 25, 2009, The Star Online
From head start to headache
Insight Down South by SEAH CHEANG NEE

SINGAPORE’S bid to turn the dream of millions of Asians for a 21st century education into a big business has run into a snag.

Two news headlines last week explained part of it: the first read, “Business school shut down for selling fake degrees”, and then a day later, “A second case of bogus certificates”.

Hundreds of students found their higher studies rudely interrupted when the two rogue schools were ordered to close, forcing them to scramble for alternatives or drop their study pursuits.

The larger of the two, Brookes Business School, saw 400 students (half of them foreigners) in the horns of a dilemma.

It also delivered a blow to Singapore’s image as a reliable hub for higher education, which now caters to an estimated 100,000 foreign students from 20 countries.

Privately-run Brookes had handed out fake degrees from top universities in Britain and Australia, including the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, which has lodged a police report.

In the other case, 40 students, all from abroad, suffered the same fate.

The closures came as a shock to the students, some of whom only found out when they arrived to find the doors locked.

They are the latest in a series of scandals in recent years committed by rogue merchants “who cashed in on people’s dreams” (as one critic put it).

The victims, from Singapore, China, India and countries in South-east Asia, were duped into paying S$12,000 to S$18,000 a year for a worthless piece of paper.

They came because of Singapore’s reputation for high standards, believing that any school that registered with the government must be reliable.

After the news broke, several Singaporeans who graduated from Brookes Business School with fake RMIT degrees resigned from their jobs before they were found out.

In the past four years, about a dozen reported cases of bogus degrees or misleading claims about the mushrooming private schools have left thousands of foreigners stranded.

These samples of news headlines indicate the scope of it:

> Feb 25, 2009: “Four Private Schools Closed — Be Careful!”. Altogether 11 have failed in the past year due to poor enrolments, with many students losing their money.

> Oct 24, 2008: “Fancy Setting, Worthless Degrees”; 76 people graduate with worthless papers from an unaccredited university known as a degree supplier.

> Sept 15, 2008: “Stop These Degree Courses, School Told”; Ministry of Education revokes approval for University of Northern Virginia courses; 270 students were affected.

> June 9, 2007: “Froebel Shuts Its Doors To Angry Students”. Mostly students from China, they protested against the non-issuing of certificates and no refunds, while lecturers were not paid for work.

> Sept 20, 2006: “Two China students Sue IT School” saying they had paid S$80,500 for a “misrepresented” Masters course. A check by reporters found its premises vacated.

> Sept 2, 2005: “900 Students Hit By School’s Closure”. The affected were mostly foreigners, having to leave AIT Academy when it failed to meet government standards.

In perspective, these make up only a fraction of the nation’s 1,200 private — mostly small — schools. So is the proportion of rogue merchants that cash in on people’s dreams.

The black mark does not affect the majority of education ventures in Singapore — particularly the mainstream universities and official institutions — which provide high quality courses.

However limited in number, these few high-profile scams are spreading far and wide across frontiers that could hurt the city’s image as a reliable, distinctive hub.

As a victim from China said: “If people in China hears about this, fewer of them will come to Singapore.”

The government is worried that the cheating cases could undermine the country’s fast-growing, US$8bil a year education hub.

It plans to enact a new Private Education Bill later this year to impose tougher penalties on commercial ventures (including hefty fines and imprisonment) that misrepresent themselves and leave students in the lurch.

Until then, it is tightening supervision on them; last year it took measures to protect students from unfairly losing their fee money.

Critics blame it partly on the government for allowing these schools to proliferate so quickly that it makes screening or supervision almost impossible.

One of them blogged: “The question is, how could something so good go so bad and so fast in this efficient city?”

Some of them are calling for a scale-back of plans to have 150,000 foreign students here by 2015 — a 50% increase from current figures.

Their rationale is this already over-crowded city will not be able to cope with it.

People’s Action Party backbencher Inderjit Singh said: “I don’t think numbers are important. We should get in (a few) respectable names first.”

It is unlikely to be heeded though, with Singapore’s other hub activities likely to remain weak in the coming years.

“Education is the most resilient of all the hubs, and it has survived the recession relatively unscathed,” said a private tutor. He is getting more classes to teach.

Not all foreigners who end up with a worthless degree or diploma are con victims.

Some of them, who lack the minimum qualifications to be accepted for a mainstream institution (many hardly speak English), or are too poor to afford to afford it, are willing participants in the scam.

For them, a fake degree will help get them a job back home — which, of course, spells more trouble for Singapore.

Unless it is under control, a day may arrive when global companies start looking at a Singapore-issued degrees through a magnifying glass.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Would Singapore become another Mexico?

Brookes Business School was ordered to close by the MOE for issuing fake degrees. Now its subsidiary, Stamford Global Learning is also ordered to close. The former had 400 students while Stamford Global has 40. How would this affect Singapore's reputation as a world class education centre?

Would Singapore be avoided like Mexico from the H1N1 flu, in this case, fake degree flu? To quote an affected China student, 'If people in China hear about this, fewer of them will come to Singapore.'

This is not the first time such things happened. Is it so difficult to avoid such a mess? Just a few phone calls to the universities concerned will do the trick. Maybe it is too troublesome, too big a job. Maybe it is nobody's responsibility. Oh, free market, self regulations, caveat emptor.

Now I am wondering how serious is this fake degree flu and how far it is going to spread. Totally irresponsible.

Would Singapore become another Mexico?

Brookes Business School was ordered to close by the MOE for issuing fake degrees. Now its subsidiary, Stamford Global Learning is also ordered to close. The former had 400 students while Stamford Global has 40. How would this affect Singapore's reputation as a world class education centre?

Would Singapore be avoided like Mexico from the H1N1 flu, in this case, fake degree flu? To quote an affected China student, 'If people in China hear about this, fewer of them will come to Singapore.'

This is not the first time such things happened. Is it so difficult to avoid such a mess? Just a few phone calls to the universities concerned will do the trick. Maybe it is too troublesome, too big a job. Maybe it is nobody's responsibility. Oh, free market, self regulations, caveat emptor.

Now I am wondering how serious is this fake degree flu and how far it is going to spread. Totally irresponsible.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

July 15, 2009
Fake-degree school closes 10 min-->
MOE revokes Brookes' registration; students turn up to find door closed, no staff around
By Jermyn Chow of The Straits Times

Students who turned up at Brookes' premises in Beach Road on Tuesday found an MOE closure notice stuck to the door. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

BROOKES Business School, which peddled fake degrees and diplomas to hundreds of students, has been ordered to shut down.

A degree in a year? It was all a scam
GET a degree from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in a year for just $12,000.This was among the pitches served up to Brookes Business School's prospective students and which The Straits Times exposed in a report last month.
The private school handed out bogus qualifications from brand-name institutions in Australia and Britain, including the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT), in a practice which was exposed last month by The Straits Times. The Education Ministry (MOE) said on Tuesday it had revoked the school's registration for contravening the Education Act.
The 400 students enrolled at the school - half of them foreigners - had little warning of the impending action. Many turned up at Brookes' premises in Beach Road on Tuesday morning to find the door closed and an MOE closure notice stuck to it.
Some had been telephoned earlier by a staff member of the school and told that classes would be cancelled for the week, resuming in about a fortnight.
One of them, who gave his name as Thomas, 21, said the caller neither identified herself nor gave a reason for the cancellation. 'It was so strange, so I thought: better to come down and get answers,' said the Chinese national, who is studying for a diploma in tourism and hospitality.
He failed to find any answers though, since staff and lecturers were nowhere to be seen. Neither was the man at the centre of the fiasco, the school's registered owner, Mr Benny Yap Chee Mun, 39.
Students said the last time they saw him was just after news broke of the scam in mid-June, when he called a meeting and assured them that the school's degrees were bona fide, and that it would not close down. He had told The Straits Times that he had been duped by a Vietnamese man, who sold him a 'franchise' to offer RMIT degrees in 2007.
On Tuesday, however, an MOE spokesman said there was 'sufficient evidence' to prove Mr Yap 'is not a fit and proper person to continue to operate the school'. Calls to the school and Mr Yap went unanswered.
Students have been told by MOE to approach the Association of Private Schools and Colleges (APSC), which represents some 40 private schools here, to help with transfers to other schools.
Dr Andrew Chua, its president, said that four receiving schools had been identified. He advised students to seek help at its secretariat at 9, Ah Hood Road, which will be open from 9am to 5pm from Wednesday till Friday. Students seeking fee refunds, which ranged from $9,000 to $12,000 for a one-year specialist diploma, should approach the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) for advice, said the ministry.

The above is a Straits Times article published on 15 Jul 09.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

More stringent rules for Singapore's private schools soon
By Satish Cheney, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 10 March 2009 2128 hrs

SINGAPORE: There will be more stringent rules and regulations, including advertising, for the private education sector in Singapore soon. Authorities are hoping the new Private Education Bill will be passed in Parliament by July - under which, more than 1,000 private schools must adhere to the new rules. And once the new bill comes into effect within the next two years, a new EduTrust scheme will take over the current CASETrust scheme dealing with private schools. EduTrust will focus on the school's financial health and academic processes, as well as the student's overall happiness and welfare.

While the scheme is voluntary, the Education Ministry believes the some 350 schools currently having the CASETrust status will strive for the EduTrust mark. Chairman of Council for Private Education, Lin Cheng Ton, said: "Those schools that can get the EduTrust certification are the better schools. So in this case, the better schools are able to take foreign students."

Currently, only private institutions (PIs) with the CASETrust status can enrol foreign students. And soon, they must have the EduTrust mark when it comes into effect. CEO of Council for Private Education, Henry Heng, said: "Let's not forget that the new regime is a little different from what it is presently. The new regime has a regulatory enforcement act which requires the managers of the PIs, who are identified by name and in person, that… if they close down, they have to be able to make transitory plans for the students and failing which, it's an offence under the act itself."

The ministry will also step up efforts to check on errant private schools and employ more officers to conduct these checks. In addition, only schools with approved courses will be allowed to advertise them. There will be focus group discussions to get feedback from private education institutions and students. There will also be a public consultation exercise with industry players as well as the public from March 11 till May 6.

The above article is copied from CNA online.

What is happening is that CASETrust did not work the way it wants and the shortfalls in the private education industry are being exposed with more students falling victims to fly by night operators. The new regulations and power of enforcement have been late in coming and should be in force long ago to maintain a high standard of integrity in the education industry. A lot of pain and suffering could have been avoided if actions were taken much earlier.

We can now hope that the Singapore brand has not been tarnished beyond recognition and foreign students and their parents still have faith in our system.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Singapore International Schools doing well

While some foreign owned international schools are seeing decreasing student intakes, Singapore's own stable of international schools are gaining popularity. However, not all foreign international schools are doing badly. The premium schools like the Singapore American School, Tanglin Trust and United World College are still having very long queues in their waiting lists. The Global Indian International School and Avondale Grammar School were reported to have lost up to 20% of their students due to the economic crisis.

ACS International, Hwa Chong International, SJI International are still expanding their capacities. Nanyang Girls is planning to start a co ed primary schools to include kindergarten classes. These schools are also very popular with the local students. But the fees are relatively stiff, in the S$20k bracket per year.

Singapore is still targetting a 150,000 foreign student population by 2012.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

More students, more rooms

New hostel being built as MDIS aims to double enrolment in five years
Ong Dai Lin
DESPITE the tough economic climate, the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) plans to double its student enrolment in five years and is embarking on a bold $200 million expansion to build a new hostel and develop campus facilities.
.Under the first phase of its development plan, MDIS will build an $80 million hostel with teaching facilities that can house some 1,620 students. To be completed by 2011, it will be the largest hostel for private schools in Singapore.
.The rooms will be air-conditioned and rates are expected to be between $400 and $800 a month, MDIS honorary treasurer Chua Chen How said yesterday at the groundbreaking ceremony for the hostel.
.The other private school here that has a hostel is SIM Global Education. Room rates at the hostel, which can house over 400 students, range from $450 to $750.
.Under the second phase of its plan, MDIS will spend $20 million to build a new six-storey administrative wing by the middle of next year.
.The secretary-general of MDIS,Dr R Theyvendran, told Today that the school had brought forward the development plans to take advantage of the lower construction costs.
.MDIS will draw from its current $104 million in reserves to pay for the first two phases of development.
.After the first two phases are completed, MDIS will submit a proposal to the Urban Redevelopment Authority and Singapore Land Authority for a $100 million project to build three blocks of training rooms for its engineering students, Mr Chua said.
.He estimates that when all three phases of development are completed in five years’ time, MDIS will be able to expand its student population from the present 12,500 to 25,000.
.Currently, around 3,500 of MDIS’ students are foreigners....

The above is an extract of an article in Today Online.

Schools on alert for warning signs of strain

Their counsellorsand staff keep alookout for students with problems
Lin Yanqin

.WHETHER :Nanyang Technological University (NTU) student David Hartanto Widjaja had felt weighed down by a glitch in his final-year project, or by the loss of his scholarship, his suicide after stabbing his: project supervisor had many abuzz about how stressed tertiary students here are — on occasion, to breaking point.
.:As schools told :Today:, they have measures in place for students’ mental and emotional needs. These including counselling centres on campus, hotlines manned by students, and faculty members who look out for warning signs.:
.:In the case of the Singapore Management University (SMU), such frameworks proved of critical help in at least one instance. “Last year, we had a suicidal student who came to the centre for help,” said SMU university counsellor Timothy Hsi. “At the same time, his professor had noticed that he was missing classes and he also alerted the school administration to alert me to this student.”
.:Counselling helped the undergraduate cope with his problems and stay in school.
.The signs of a student needing help are common — those easy for a faculty member to spot include students skipping classes, and a drop in quality of work, said Ngee Ann Polytechnic student care and counselling manager Ms Ching Pui Fan. “Also, they may become withdrawn, not sleep enough and lose their appetite.”
.In Mr Widjaja’s case, he had reportedly stopped contacting friends the week before he ended his life.
.Yesterday, NTU president Su Guaning said the school would guide professors on detecting worrying signs: “We need to look very much at pastoral care for students, but you need a balance — you need to be caring without being stifling and they need to be learning to fend for themselves, without feeling that they need to take care of all problems by themselves.”
.The National University of Singapore holds workshops for faculty members, administrative staff and hostel resident staff, on identifying students in difficulty.
.International students
.Foreign students, in particular, may feel the strain more, with the need to adapt to a new culture and having left friends and family behind, said Mr Hsi. This is particularly so in the first three months of an academic year — when the number of students approaching counsellors tends to rise.
.“This is why in our student hostels for international students, we have resident seniors who are students trained in some basic counselling skills to help,” he said.
.Both the Management Development Institute Of Singapore and Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) also make an extra effort for their international students. SIM, for example, introduced a peer support programme where senior students are on hand to practical and emotional help.
.The critical final year
.For students doing their final-year projects, the pressure to meet deadlines can make even the smallest setback hard to take. Mr Bernard Tay, 27, recalled that when working on his final-year project as an engineering student: “The mentality is that after working hardand studying for something like 25 years, to trip at the final hurdle, it would mean a lot.”
.On top of that is the pressure to find a job upon graduation — not easy in theseeconomic times. “Your experiment might not be working out, and then you are not hearing anything from companies after interviews — it can be hard to take,” said Mr Low Yi Guang, 25, a final-year student at NTU.
.NTU associate professor Michael Heng, who teaches management at the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, said the stress of a final-year project could also be brought on by other factors. “In the past, I had a case of two very upset students because they could not get along.”
.He added: “As professors, we want to bring out the student’s best potential, but you also need to know when to stop pushing.”
.It boils down to friends
.At the polytechnics, each student is assigned a counsellor or mentor for the entire three years at school — as the biggest cause of stress for most students is the transition from secondary school.
.“Our poly has about 15,000 students, 10 times more than a secondary school, the timetable is very different and they may start school without the support of friends,” said Singapore Polytechnic student counsellor Lee Ee Tat.
.SIM University head of programme for counselling Cecilia Soong said adult learners also face work stress and often have families as well. Students have walked out of classes and yelled, to let off steam.
.At NTU, Dr Su said NTU would review its “detection framework”. “We need to reach out a little more, because sometimes (students) don’t reach out at all, and they have a shell around them,” he said, noting that Mr Widjaja’s actions came as a shock even to his closest friends.
.Ultimately, Dr Soong felt, the first safety net should be one’s friends. “Especially during exam period, it’s easy to become oblivious to your friend’s problems, but you should always make time to reach out if you think something is wrong,” she said.
Their counsellorsand staff keep alookout for students with problems
Lin Yanqin

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

4 more private schools closed - be careful

For the last one year 11 private schools have closed due to lack of students. Some students are still trying to claim back their tuition fees from the schools. As reported in Today paper,'Two -language scholls Goro Global School and Britannia School of education - have yet to repay their students fees amounting to some $33,000.

Students are warned to make sure that the schools they are enrolling into are Case Trusted. Seah Choon Seng, ED of Case, advised 'students planning to enrol here to ensure their fees are adequately protected. They may choose to leave their fees with the Student Tuition Fee Account or Escrow Scheme, or take up a Student Tuition Fee Insurance.'

In the case of Escrow scheme, the fees will be left in the custody of a third party or Case endorsed banks.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Private universities in Singapore

Private universities in Singapore attracting more local By Ryan Huang, Channel NewsAsia 18 February 2009 2028 hrs SINGAPORE:

More Singaporeans are turning to private universities to save costs. They can obtain degrees from foreign universities with campuses in Singapore, or those that offer programmes through local institutions, at a fraction of the cost of studying overseas.

22-year-old Willard Tan, an undergraduate at East Asia Institute of Management, saves over S$50,000 a year by not choosing to study abroad.

"For me, I'm saving about five times the amount of money studying here, which can be utilised in this current economy," he said.

"We have seen an increase in local students' applications by more than 50 per cent over the past two years," said Lee Beng Choo, chief operating officer of PSB Academy.

Another advantage is that private universities offer a faster route to obtaining a degree. This is because these institutions give extra credits for previous study or work experience.

Some schools also said there is growing awareness of the value and options they offer and many students are keen to upgrade themselves during the economic downturn.

Andrew Chua, president, Association of Private Schools and Colleges Singapore, said: "Local students also see the advantage of continuing to be able to stay in Singapore. There are obviously some increases as working adults who have been retrenched take private education as an option for now, especially with all the government subsidies."

The TMC Education Group said it has seen a spike in the enrolment of local students from 2006 and most of the students are upgrading to a diploma or higher diploma course.

The upgrading trend is echoed by others such as James Cook University, which offers undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

At the same time, the number of students going overseas for tertiary education appears to be largely unaffected. Student recruitment agencies that Channel NewsAsia spoke to said there is still a strong demand.

The current downturn is one possible reason as the stronger Singapore dollar has made it cheaper for students to study in countries like Australia.

According to data from the US Embassy, student visa applications to the country have been steadily rising over the years. A constant demand is expected as students pursue courses which are not available in Singapore, such as Veterinary Science.

Industry players said they are keeping a close watch on the numbers as they believe the private education sector will only feel the full impact of the downturn in the second or third quarter of the year.