Thursday, December 04, 2014

An education centre or snake oil selling centre

We promote our City as a regional education centre. We allow all kinds of schools and universities to set up shops here to teach and to issue certificates, diplomas and degrees. Is there a need for quality checks? Or it is caveat emptor, the schools and their operators do whatever they want, the students go and do whatever they want, the Govt has no responsibility to the quality of the education services provided, the Govt may not even recognized their certificates or degrees issued?
In the banking industry there is some minimum guarantees for the deposits, at one time by the Govt. In the stock market, many investors are complaining about fly by night operators, companies listed in the market but turned turtles within months or a couple of years and then closed shop. Many got delisted for fraudulent accounting and businesses. Who is responsible for this? Caveat emptor?
The big question, shall there be some standard or criteria be set so that unwary students who honestly come here to get an education did not get snake oil instead? Would anyone be responsible or is it fair to the students and their parents for putting out good money, honestly, believing in the Singapore brand, to give their children an education but the certificates and degrees were not recognized at the end of the day? When there is no accountability or responsibility, anything can happen. Is this the nature of things that we want just to do business and collect some fees?

As a Govt and a country promoting education, can anything go, got quality or no quality, recognized or not recognized, does not matter as long as they can run it as a business and there are people, students, willing to register and to pay for it? Willing buyer and willing seller good enough?
Can this same principle be applied to other products and services? Can anyone import or produce and sell food products freely, with no questions on the standards and quality of the food? Or can anyone bring in cars that are not safe or did not meet engineering and design standards or quality to sell here?
Our education scene is like the Wild Wild West, like our infamous shopping centres. Buyers beware! No one is responsible for fakes, frauds and snake oils?
As a regional education centre, does the Govt think that it has no duty to ensure that the products and services are of certain quality and standard, or at least they are recognized by the government as employers? Singapore has a reputation for quality and reliability. The Singapore brand? How would the consumers think if the money they paid expecting quality education turns out to be something else?
Can a Singaporean student attending a private university here expect that the degree be recognized by the govt when applying for a job? This is the least that can be expected. Is the education scene too cavalier? Where is this thing called moral obligation or responsibility? What is ethical consideration?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Singaporeans must make way for the Angsanas

The Angsanas are well known as instant trees in the island. They are planted everywhere as stop gap measures when instant trees are needed. They have good foliage and provide good shade under the hot sun. Superficially they looked good too. But they also snapped or get uprooted quite easily under strong wings. Maybe it is their nature, or maybe they are just instant trees with shallow roots. Unlike the hardy local trees that could withstand strong winds with their deep roots, the Angsanas would always be Angsanas. They will snap or get uprooted.

What is disturbing is a piece of news this morning about two old schools, Griffiths and Qiaonan, that have to make way for Angsana. The two schools with a combined history of 145 years, with many histories and old boys and girls who were proud to be students of the schools, would have their memories wiped clean, all because someone decided that Angsana should replaced them as the name for the new school, but devoid of any history except the fame instant tree image.

Why would the decision makers choose to have something new and nothing exceptional to replace our heritage? And why would the MOE and the Singapore Heirtage Board allowed it to happen? Aren’t they the public institutions and guardians that believed in our history and heritage? Are these people obsessed with the Angsanas? Or is there a message that they are sending out, Angsanas are good and should replace the locals?

The old boys and girls and teachers are all perplexed. They have all the good reasons to want to preserve the names of the two schools. They protested. Why would they want to replace the names of their schools with something like Angsanas? It reminds me of the fetish fad of replacing the PMEs with their wealth of experience with unknown elements from overseas.

There are a lot of sentiments involved. This is our history. This is very sad. Our past and memories are wiped out, no more, by this naïve and simplistic decision. The old boys and girls just want something to remember, their past, the times they spent in the schools, their alma maters. Why can’t the new school be called Qiaonan Griffiths to give it some history and a link to its past golden days? Qiaonan and Griffiths anytime sound better than this thing called Angsana. And one of the criteria of the Schools Naming Committee is whether the name resonates with the community? You mean Angsana resonates with the community better than Qiaonan and Griffiths?

And this Angsana Primary School is supposed to build on the histories of Qiaonan and Griffiths! What have they been smoking? Maybe Angsana resonates with the national policies of bringing more instant citizens into the country. Every Angsana, every instant tree, is a treasure, a talent, better than the locals or the Qiaonans and the Griffiths. It is better to do away with Qiaonan and Griffiths and glorify the new future of Angsanas.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

World Universities Rankings trivialise Research Excellence

Bogus World Universities Rankings promote Mediocrity and Worthless Value as Excellence

True research excellence is the product of passion and genuine scientific investigative efforts directed at purposeful outcomes in the form of “discoveries that will benefit Singaporeans and humankind globally” (Dr Tony Tan, 29 Jul 2006).   The desired goal of NTU research is “the harnessing and capturing of value (Dr Tony Tan, 29 Mar 2007). This is our Definition of “Research Excellence”.

Singapore Universities NUS and NTU were recently ranked among the Top by THE (Times Higher Education) World University Rankings. The London-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) ranked NTU as the World’s Youngest Best University.

For QS Rankers, Research “Excellence” is measured by a questionable proxy measure called “Citations per faculty (20%)”.

Their “Citations” indicator aims to assess Universities’ Research Output. A ‘citation’ means a piece of research being cited (referred to) within another piece of research. Generally, the more often a piece of research is cited by others, the more influential it is. A rather simple but nonetheless naïve and invalid construct of “Research Excellence”, revealing QS’ ignorance and lack of understanding regarding Universities Research Excellence.  

Popular facts mentioned that Albert Einstein only published 3 papers.   Many NTU and NUS professors however, like many of their counterparts elsewhere, actually publish more journal papers than Nobel Prize potentials and winners!  

For QS Rankers, the winning Soccer Team is determined by counting the number of passes and ball possessions instead of the overall goals score impact!  Seriously, how VALID or Significant would this be?

There should be clear, ample proof that “new” knowledge contained and “cited” in these journal and conference papers is in fact of some degree of significance public value.

QS Rankers failed to evaluate the extent to which NTU had attained its Goal directive to harness and capture value (Dr Tony Tan, 29 Mar 2007).

Such glaringly blatant and obvious defects should NOT have escaped the penetrative professional scrutiny of NTU Senior Management and Administrators, many of whom eminent Professors and Researchers themselves, who had pronounced and unashamedly embraced the spurious and bogus QS Rankings to position our University in spite of its lack of validity and reliability of their Criterion measures.

In doing so, irreparable damage was done to the great authentic reputation of Singapore. Singapore universities should no longer participate in any Global Universities Ranking scams, no matter what other “famous” Universities had been included.  All Marketing collaterals making references to the bogus University Rankings should also be cleansed of the lie and return our Institution to Authentic levels of transparency and integrity. 

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Desired Outcomes of Singapore Universities.

Ignored and Sacrificed by Global Universities Ranking Standards

Singapore Universities are acknowledged as among the very best in Asia and the world institutions of higher learning and research.

A great University is committed to organizational excellence at all levels and in all the Departments providing professional support to sustaining excellence in teaching, research and professional service to the Community and Society at large. Through its research and educational programs, as well as various campus activities, a great University must also develop leaders for all sectors of the society and prepare them to address the challenges facing the community and nation.

The Ministry of Education unveiled in 1997 and defined the specific outcome of Singapore Education System for Universities. According to our Ministry of Education, the Desired Outcomes establish a common purpose for educators, drive our policies and programmes, and allow us to determine how well our education system is doing.

The person who is schooled in the Singapore Education system embodies the Desired Outcomes of Education. He has a good sense of self-awareness, a sound moral compass, and the necessary skills and knowledge to take on challenges of the future. He is responsible to his family, community and nation.

He appreciates the beauty of the world around him, possesses a healthy mind and body, and has a zest for life. In sum, he is:
  1. a confident person who has a strong sense of right and wrong, is adaptable and resilient, knows himself, is discerning in judgment, thinks independently and critically, and communicates effectively;
  2. a self-directed learner who takes responsibility for his own learning, who questions, reflects and perseveres in the pursuit of learning;
  3. an active contributor who is able to work effectively in teams, exercises initiative, takes calculated risks, is innovative and strives for excellence; and,
  4. a concerned citizen who is rooted to Singapore, has a strong civic consciousness, is informed, and takes an active role in bettering the lives of others around him.
Our Universities students would be further strengthened in their belief in Singapore, and develop a profound understanding of what matters to Singapore in the global context. Our universities curriculum make explicit what we aspire to develop in our young so as to empower their strong foundations for them to thrive and achieve success in life as active and contributing members of Singapore.

NONE OF THE OUTCOMES of our Education System was addressed by the Global Universities Ranking vendors.  And they were therefore NEVER measured or evaluated among and with the other Universities.

It is baffling why Singapore Universities would want so desperately to subscribe to dubious Universities ranking standards of dubious excellence. It is even more disturbing that the Ministry of Education would have allow them to expend public funds to woo and court the Global Universities Rankers when it was so blatantly clear that NONE of their Criteria even remotely measure or evaluate our own Outcomes of Education. 

Singapore Universities should no longer participate in any Global Universities Ranking scams, no matter which other “famous” Universities had been included.  All Marketing collaterals making references to the bogus University Rankings should also be cleansed of the lie and return our Institution to our Authentic levels of transparency and integrity. 

Read More here:

Friday, October 10, 2014

Singaporeans Sacrificed for Top Universities Rankings


Were Singaporean Students and Professors Sacrificed for NTU Top Rankings? Singaporeans are Collateral Damage for Top Universities Rankings.  Was it Worth it?

“NTU heads QS' list of top 50 universities …”, according to London-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), one of three international universities ranking systems.

For the sake of meeting the Criteria of a Bogus Ranking Standard of Dubious Excellence, it appears that NOTHING was spared so as to Obtain a Brand of Questionable Authenticity.

Let’s examine 3 of the QS’ 5 Criteria here.

International Students Ratio (5%)
In 2013, 28% of NTU’s 23,484 undergraduates or 6,575 were foreigners. Why 28% foreign students? Canadian universities, for example, averaged only 8.9% foreign students in 2009. 

Some NTU “rejects” even went on to Ivy League Universities overseas. Many understandably could not afford the costly overseas education. A mere tweaking of the arbitrary cut-off points for NTU Admissions would easily have absorbed 6,500 more Singapore students. The cutoff point appeared deliberate in order to have less local students, in favour of foreign studnets in order for NTU to excel in the foreign students criteria of the QS Ranking criteria.

Were more than 6,500 Singaporean students, or between 1,700-1,900 annually, denied NTU admission into various 3-year and 4-year Undergraduate Programs, over 2009-2013, so that NTU could excel in the International Students Ratio criteria of the QS Ranking?

Totally Unacceptable is also the Fact that at least 40% of the “rejected” students would have completed National Service in their citizenship duty to serve and defend this Country, and only to find upon NS completion that a Public Institution in our Beloved Country had “sold them out” for a Foreign bogus ranking standard of dubious excellence!

What is Baffling is the fact that millions of Singapore funds are used to pay for the thousands of “free” scholarships for most foreign students to study in NTU and other local Universities. 
WHY THEN IS THE NEED FOR A BOGUS RANKING AUTHENTICATION to attract Foreign Students to study “free” here?

International Staff Ratio (5%)
Singaporean Professors in NTU were similarly discriminated for a better QS Ranking.  In a purge of Professors under the pretext of Tenure Evaluation from 2007-2010, mostly Singaporean Professors, including many already qualified for Tenure previously, were dismissed.  And when the dusts settled in 2010 after the Purge, Singapore citizens including new citizens formed only 44% of the faculty; 56% of NTU faculty are foreigners from 56 countries worldwide including Singapore PRs.

Professors who are Singaporeans were clearly discriminated and sacrificed so that NTU could excel in the International Staff Ratio criteria of the QS Ranking.

Faculty/Student Ratio (20%)
Following the Purge of Singaporean Professors, many more foreigners were engaged as NTU Professors. These are mostly freshly-graduated PhDs, and others lacking the acclaims, experience and research citations of those Singaporean Professors who were “terminated” by NTU. Their increased numbers were however necessary in order to meet the QS’ Faculty/Student Ratio.

While the first 3 Criteria may account for just 30% of the QS Criteria, the sacrifice of Singaporeans as students and Professors appeared necessary as the tipping points for NTU to excel and top the bogus standard of dubious excellence.

United Nation Education agency UNESCO had also challenged the validity and reliability of University Rankings like QS, viewing them “of dubious value” that “use shallow proxies as correlates of quality.” Really Sad, ALL THE SACRIFICES BY SINGAPOREANS ACTUALLY FOR NOTHING AUTHENTIC OR OF SUBSTANCE, REALLY. 

For the Sake of Authenticity and Integrity, Singapore universities should no longer participate in any “Global Universities Ranking” scams.  Singapore’s presence in the Global Universities Rankings invariable lends our hard-earned Reputation for Authenticity and Honesty to mask their lack of credibility, validity and reliability.  We owe it to our Founding Generations never to cheapen our Reputation, painstakingly built over the past 50 years, in any manner.  

Read Full Article here:

Thursday, October 09, 2014

WHO Ranked NTU?

The DARK SIDES of QS World Universities Ranker
Singapore Universities have recently been ranked at the Top by what most Academics and the United Nations Education agency, UNESCO, generally considered to be Bogus Ranking Standards of Dubious Excellence. 
Singapore University NTU has secured top placing as the world's best young university, according to Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World Universities Ranking, one of three major international university ranking systems.  The London-based QS World Universities Ranking has been called “a Fraud on the public.” Another Eminent Professor said: “QS simply doesn’t do as good a job as the other rankers that are using multiple indicators”. 
Eminent Professor Simon Marginson of then Melbourne University remarked of QS that: “I do think social science-wise it’s so weak that you can’t take the results seriously”. 
A Reporter also claimed that QS has used the threat of legal action to try to silence critics. “QS has twice threatened publications with legal action when publishing my bona fide criticisms of QS. One was The Australian: in that case QS prevented my criticisms from being aired. The other case was University World News, which refused to pull my remarks from its website when threatened by QS with legal action”.
The QS World Universities Ranking, like other Universities Rankings, is in essence deficient in terms of social science, but QS has been criticized for more than just its unsound, questionable and unscientific Methodology:
1)     THES DID drop QS for Methodological Reasons. QS’ use of peer and industry surveys is highly questionable with very low response rate returns from huge number of unspecified respondents of unknown expertise.  Read the best explanation by QS’s former partner …  
2)     The Most Stinging Criticism is the Sale of Dubious QS-Star Ratings. One wonders which self-respecting University would “buy” QS-Stars and actually use them for Marketing.  Singapore NTU (39) and MIT (1) both have 5+QS-Stars. As did the Universities of Waterloo (169), Monash (70) and Queensland (43). However, the Universities of of Cambridge (2), Harvard (3), Stanford University (4), Caltech (5) … have only 5 QS-Stars.  Brackets contain QS 2014 Rankings.  Note the UNRELIBILITY of QS Rankings vs QS-Stars, and therefore their absurd claims to VALIDITY and Credibility.
3)     And the Highly Lucrative "Consultancy" to help Universities Rise Up the QS Rankings.  Need to say more regarding QS’ commercial rather than Academic or Quality motivation?
4)     QS offers "Opportunities" for Branding from just $80,000 with QS Showcase. Another QS’ innovative commercial “Value” Service if Academic Reputation of Excellence is not enough to attract students.
5)     QS Reputation Survey has Weak Protocols, as demonstrated by this case of blatant manipulation. An Irish University President has, AGAINST QS’ Expressed Rules, asked all faculty members and other academic employees at his institution to each recruit three people from other universities to register to vote in the survey of university reputations.  QS allows Universities to encouraging people to sign up for the QS peer review survey, as long as they don't suggest favoring any one institution. Now, how does this actually work, seriously? 
6)     Finally, QS's business practices (fined GBP 80,000 or US$ 128,648 for using unlicensed software) leave an awful lot to be desired. Maybe, it’s just bad planning, inadequate IT policies or simply a lack of awareness.  Clearly, an Integrity issue for any Company desiring its Products to be viewed with Respect and Credibility.  
Read Full Article with References:

Monday, October 06, 2014

True Lies about Universities Rankings

True Lies about Universities Rankings - Michael Heng

The London-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World Universities Ranking has been called “a Fraud on the public.” Another Eminent Professor said: “QS simply doesn’t do as good a job as the other rankers that are using multiple indicators”. 

Singapore University NTU has secured top placing as the world's best young universities, according to QS Ranking, one of three major international university ranking systems.

The United Nations Education agency, UNESCO, has challenged the validity and reliability of University Rankings such as QS Ranking:

“Global university rankings fail to capture either the meaning or driverse qualities of a university or the characteristics of universities in a way that values and respects their educational and social purposes, missions and goals. At present, these rankings are of dubious value, are underpinned by questionable social science, arbitrarily privilege particular indicators, and use shallow proxies as correlates of quality.”

It is highly questionable whether the 5 Criteria of QS Ranking actually indicate or measure University Excellence to any extent. No study on their validity and reliability has been produced by the Ranking organisations themselves.  At best, these Criteria are just “popular” notions imagined by the Rankers themselves and have no true bearings on University learning impact on their students.

Too much time has been obsessively invested by NTU and NUS in collecting and using data and statistics in order to improve their ranking performance on a bogus ranking standard of dubious excellence. Universities should be more concerned about innovative ways to enhance our universities’ contributions to society through their students. This is the Real payback for the millions of public fund spent on our Universities.  

Kopi Level - Green

Read More here:

Friday, October 03, 2014

Free university education?

Can this be true? Even if it is true, the quality must be bad. How can free things be good? You want quality you must be prepared to pay for it. The more you pay, the higher the quality. It must be, like our world best govt.

Effective this year, the whole of Germany will provide free university education when Lower Saxony decided to abolish university tuition fees. Wow, this is like fiction. Actually many countries in Europe provide free university education. Bloody hell, I am like a frog in a well. Only today then I heard about it, read about it. Scandinavian countries like Norway, Denmark and Sweden have been providing free university education for many years and it seems that this is a trend and other countries are following suit. In UK, Welsh university education is free for Welsh.

According to a chart from Source:  Scotland and several East European countries are also providing free university education for their citizens. University fees in Spain, France and Belgium are less than 1000 euros per year while Portugal, Italy and a few East European states are charging less than 3000 euros. No wonder their rankings are lower than our world best universities.
How much are we charging our students? Britain charges more than 9000 euros for their universities, the most expensive. I think we must be modeling after Britain and using Britain as a benchmark in fees and quality. Our universities are comparable to the best of the British in both counts so it is only appropriate to benchmark against them.

Why are some of these countries starting to offer free university education to their citizens? Simple. It is an investment. The better educated the people are, the more productive they are and better serve the country and its economy. Put it the other way, if the university education is so expensive that the people are not university graduates, how are there going to contribute to the economy? Would they be happy to be hawkers and crane drivers? In Sin City, many graduates are now good enough to drive taxis.

What if our citizens are all non graduates, would we be importing all the top and highly paid employees from abroad, the foreign talents? Highly skilled jobs and professions need university education. You cannot have doctors, engineers, scientist etc without tertiary education. Wait a minute, I may be wrong here, there were doctors in the past without university education, like sinsehs, dentists and many other professions. Could be self taught. Is this a contradiction? Never mind if we can live with fakes.

We need high quality university education. And of course quality means money. The buildings, the foreign talent professors, the land, very expensive here, the material, everything needs to be paid for. No money how can?

And providing university education is a big commercial business and can bring in a lot of revenue. Maybe this is one of the main reasons why our universities are so obsessed with university rankings. It is a big money making business. But can we also follow those countries to provide free university education to our citizens and make foreign students pay instead of providing free education to foreign students and make ours pay? Funny right?

The Welsh are providing free for their citizens? The European Unions are charging their member country students a lower fee than those outside of the EU. Is there anything we can learn from this news? Are we doing the right thing or the wrong thing?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Seriously, Singapore NTU is Number One University; but ….

The United Nations agency, UNESCO, challenged the validity and reliability, and therefore the usefulness, of University Rankings.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore has secured top placing on a league table of the world's best young universities.  It has overtaken Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, who was No. one for the past two years, according to London-based educational consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). Of what value to Singapore is this NTU “achievement”?

Well, any good researcher would know that you will get what you measure, instead of what you want to claim the measure to mean.  So, what exactly does QS Ranking mean?

The United Nations agency, UNESCO, challenged the validity and reliability, and therefore the usefulness, of University Rankings:

“Global university rankings fail to capture either the meaning or divers qualities of a university or the characteristics of universities in a way that values and respects their educational and social purposes, missions and goals. At present, these rankings are of dubious value, are underpinned by questionable social science, arbitrarily privilege particular indicators, and use shallow proxies as correlates of quality.”

Indeed, Universities Ranking is itself conceptually problematic.  It embraced an “idealised” model of University to be achieved and in so doing generalize the failure of most Universities to achieve it.  The World-Class University has NEVER existed as a concept, or as an empirical reality. The status of “World-Class University” as the gold standard is the normative social construct of the rankers themselves.

In fact, even QS cautions against the use of the QS Ranking beyond its simple methodology and purpose “to serve the student consumer. Rankings allows the consumer to see how institutions stand against other universities." Adding: "As it became apparent that more and more undergraduate students were looking to study abroad, there was a need for an international comparison. We did not come about it from the point of view of an academic exercise with metrics."

This is a confession admitting to the fact that QS Rankings evolve around the metrics used to devise the tables including citations and peer review. The Rankers did not build their QS Rankings on any solid or vigorous foundation that would withstand the penetrative professional scrutiny of the Academics or Research Institutions which now used them to position themselves in spite of the lack of validity and reliability of these measures. Therein lies its fundamental conceptual and methodological flaw, confirming that the QS Ranking is therefore irrelevant and immaterial for any serious educational policy purpose.

In fact, QS rankers themselves were surprised at "the extent to which governments and university leaders use the rankings to set strategic targets. We at QS think this is wrong. Rankings are (just) a relative measure - if other universities do better and move up, you have to go faster." 
It is just plain mindless stupidity, I may add.

QS Rankings are akin to nothing more than a Market Consumers Survey, much like how marketing agencies rank the Apple iPhone with other handphones by Blackberry, Nokia, ZTE, Samsung, Sony, Motorola, Lenovo and HTC. 

Whither NTU’s Impact on Singapore?  NTU President and University Management, as well as the Ministry of Education, should be more concerned about the need to increase NTU’s, and other universities’, contributions to society, instead of obsessing with the ranking game.  

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

University Rankings - be the best

Behind the success of Singapore universities
Wednesday, September 24, 2014 Posted by Abhijit Nag in

Congratulations, Nanyang Technological University. NTU is now No 1 among all the universities in the world that are less than 50 years old, according to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings. The question now: Will the university have more Singaporean postgraduates?

We should aim to be the best in the whole world. Maybe we will get there if we change all the teaching staff to foreigners. If that does not work, we can fill the universities with foreign students. That should do it.

Come on, let's get it done. Be Number One, be better than the Harvards, Stanfords, Yales, Cambridges and Oxfords. Aspire to be the best like aiming for the World Cup.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Anoop Shankar – Would NUS World Rankings be affected

The revelation of a ‘genius’ professor (Singapore has this fetish craving for geniuses) who was an academic staff of NUS but got caught with his pants down, with fake credentials in the US is sending a little tremor around our reputable institutions of higher learnings. We have carefully honed our skills by gaming the ranking systems, oops, I mean by making sure that we followed the norms set by international agencies, not intentionally of course, to raise our rankings to be among the top universities in the world. We are definitely not gaming, otherwise if the criteria demand having a monkey as a professor, they would have appointed a monkey to the staff too. Now doing that would be gaming. We are quite near to the class of Harvard and Cambridge, beating many top Ivy League universities in the US and UK. And we achieved this by sheer quality of the institutions and the staff.
Now we have this dubious honour of sharing in the hiring of a fake as an academic staff and publishing many papers to help in our rankings. How would this affect our university’s rankings? Is this another one of those, ‘it happens once in 50 years’ cases? If it is so, then we should thank God that it would not cause too much damage to our reputation. If it is not the case, and many more are fakes, then we will have a very embarrassing problem at hand.
How would we know that there are other fakes in the academia? The only way to find out is to comb through with a fine brush, the academic qualifications of the staff, especially the foreigners. The question is, do we want to do this and risk our rankings and reputations tumbling to the abyss? My suggestion is not to do anything. Let it be. Then we can keep our rankings and the integrity of the institutions? Did I say integrity? Oops, wrong choice of word definitely. Change that to reputation.
How many people really think that there is a need for a thorough investigation in the academia for fraudsters? This disease of having fakes and fraudsters in the whole island has been spreading and the writing has been on the wall for too long. And it is not only in the academia! It is something that must be done and in a hurry. But no one bothers. Or is this problem already known in the closed circles and the solution is to announce that no degrees also can if one can perform, and can be promoted to high positions too. Definitely not! These are two separate issues.
Do we have a problem? Yes, no? Do we want to acknowledge that we have a problem? Do we then want to address this problem? If all the answers are no, then we have no problems and Rip Van Winkle can go back to sleep for another 50 years. We can continue to plan for the big 50 year celebrations and party.
Some say the best solution to a nasty problem is to look the other way. Don’t talk about it, don’t do anything is the best.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Ex NUS prof resume fraud

In the ST today, former asst professor of NUS ‘who landed a prestigious position at a United States university is now at the centre of a sensational fraud investigation’. Anoop Shankar’s resume includes ‘a doctorate in epidemiology, graduated from India’s top medical school when he was 21, was a member of the prestigious Royal College of Physicians and had been awarded a “genius” visa to America’.

I must say that was impressive. And more impressive, he was at the Duke NUS Graduate Medical School and his 3 papers with Associate Professor Koh Woon Puay must be so good that she had no reason to doubt his talent and is standing by the joint papers.

Now that this professor Anoop Shankar has lost all his positions in the US, maybe he can come back to this talentless island to resume his position here. When a person is good he is good. Just like when a person is good, without a degree doesn’t matter. Singapore has made a quantum leap forward by looking at real talent and performance and not about a piece of paper.

The Americans were not impressed and have regarded this as ‘among the most serious of its kind, has now also sparked scrutiny into the larger issue of fraud that goes unchecked at some institutes of higher education’.

Singapore has no such worry and has no need to go on a witch hunt. All the talents landed in Singapore are genuine talents with real certificates and degrees. Even got no degree never mind, can be promoted also if they are found to be good. And best if they can impress their fellow professors that they are really good.
Shall Singapore extend another welcome to this “genius? Give him a pink IC and we will have a good catch, another talented new citizen.

Friday, August 29, 2014

In praise of non grads – What’s the agenda?

University degrees not necessary have been trumped around for a while with ministers talking about better prospects as hawkers and crane drivers and being more desirable. What’s the point of a degree when you cannot eat it or cannot get a job? After what was spoken at the NDR, the praising for non uni grads, particularly poly grads, took on more steam. It is like everything about university education is wrong and the future is in poly grads and non grads. There is no doubt that poly grads have an important role in the economy and some could do very well. They were the stars during the semi conductor era when Singapore was a manufacturing hub and many rose to become CEOs of multinationals.

Things have changed, jobs have changed, the employers have changed, govt policies have changed, and the new animal, foreigners, have dominated the employment scene as employers, recruitment agents and as the preferred sources of talents. We have seen many PMEs being booted out of their jobs in their primes and unable to find another job as the foreigners took over. Our local university grads are found to be either dumb, not smart enough or trained to unemployment or with unsuitable marketable skills.

And we have something like 6 universities and more joint universities instead of just the Singapore University and NTU. This could be just one of the reasons, over production of graduates. Like Douglas Chua said in the ST forum, education policy needs a rethink, ‘it has either been overdone, resulting in an oversupply of graduates, or its current benefits are not as relevant to our open, pragmatic economy’. This is a most surprising statement from a forumer.

What the hell is going on? The govt does not know what it was doing and messing up education again? On one hand, so many universities were set up and on the other hand saying there is an oversupply and we don’t really need graduates from the universities but poly grads or non grads?

I can think of another reason. Since our local graduates are not marketable or employable, and our citizens are good only in technical and lower management jobs, and only foreigners are good and preferred for top jobs, yes, it is only pragmatic to cut down on university education. We don’t need so many local graduates and universities. We only need to import all the talents that we need. I think this is a good policy. We can then either close down a few of the universities and save some money and land. Or perhaps these universities can be turned strictly into commercial enterprises, be self funding and self sustaining, with the highly paid foreign lecturers and professors being paid by the fees from foreign students. The scaling back is good and natural. We would be self sufficient in having local hawkers too, not dependent on PRC hawkers. And we can go back to the days of SU and NTU to provide the few grads we need.

Do I make any sense? Are we really going to go the non uni road, to produce more non uni grads and be dependent on foreign uni grads for our top jobs, management jobs?

What do you think? What is the new education policy? What are the employment opportunities for our average local talents, the Ah Bengs, Ahmads and Aruns?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Singapore Institute of Technology - SIT

SIT is the 5th public university set up in Singapore. It conducts 3 degree courses in information and communications technology, infrastructure engineering and accountancy. It also offers 28 other courses in partnership with the University of Glasgow and British University of Newcastle.

Its total intake for this year is 1,700 students, 200 more than last year. The university is gaining popularity with its 8 mth to a year intensive internship programmes with the industries.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Meritocrazy in a decadent city state

They say a fish rots from the head. When that happens, the fish does not think anymore and soon the rot will spread through the entire fish. And because of a rotted brain, the stench of rot would not even be noticed. There is no sensory organ to detect the smell of a rotting fish.

The dearth of talents and skilled professionals in this prosperous city state does not stop at the banking and finance industry or the IT industry. It is pervasive and starting right from the top to the semi skilled worker’s level. The absence of intellect affects all levels of the citizenry that the city state is now a glittering shell of its former self. Every level of its people would have to be replaced as there is nothing good left in them, or have already been replaced.

Reading an article this morning in the ST on the hollowing of the academia is just too depressing. This is the seat of the intellect of the nation, the hotbed for the gestation of ideas and ideals by the best academic brains. The rot is just as pervasive but to some, is a good thing. Let me quote a few numbers. 18 out of 25 faculty members in the NUS Political Science department are foreigners, or only 7 are Singaporeans. At the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, 38 are locals (not sure how many are Singaporeans, but you can guess that it will be very small when they have to resort to use the term locals instead of Singaporeans) out of 82 faculty staff. In the Rajaratnam School of International Studies, 12 are locals out of 29 faculty staff. At NTU’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, 21 of the 48 faculty are Singaporeans. Here they feel comfortable enough to say 21 are Singaporeans.

This sad state of affair is not missed by some of the Singaporean thinkers and academics. Some have raised their grievances to the ministers. Seah Kian Peng found this worrying and brought the matter up in parliament and ‘highlighted the fact that that fewer than half of the faculty in political science, communication and public policy – which he described as “some of the most important and context sensitive fields of endeavour in any country” – are Singaporeans.’ NMP Eugene Tan of SMU had raised the same issue six times in Parliament since 2002. Obviously nothing has been done or no action was taken, and the problem continues to grow. Is it a problem, or is it something desirable, planned by the establishment and so no action needed?

According to reporter Andrea Ong, the seed of this transformation or hollowing out in the academia seemed to have started in 1996 when, ‘then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong challenged the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University to build “the Boston of the East” and be dubbed the “Harvard and MIT of Asia”. The two universities could achieve this by drawing in “the best and brightest” from Asia and around the world, he said.’

Though Chok Tong did not ask the universities to bring lock, stock and barrel from Harvard and MIT, ie buying and bringing all the academic staff here, and replacing all the dull Sinkie students with the best and brightest in the world, the people who executed this ‘dream team’ apparently went ahead to replace the Sinkie academics and students with foreigners. Buying an international football team to compete in the world cup is an isolated fetish craze that would go away with maturity and with minimum negative impact on the country, maybe a few billion dollar lesser, but to replace the seat of learning and the academia with foreign faculty staff and students are simply shallow. But till today, with the problem growing and no concrete steps taken to reverse the trend, it seems that the lunatics have won and are having a field day to transform our universities into the Harvard and MIT and Sin City becoming the Boston of the East.

Those who are still left with a little grey matter are shaking their heads at this silliness but no one is going to do anything about it. We will have our own Harvard and MIT soon, and the faculty staff will be from the real Harvard and MIT, and the students would not be children of daft Sinkies but the brightest and the best from the whole world. We are succeeding, surely and steadily.

Where would the Sinkies go? How would the Sinkies fit in?

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Singapore students top the world in PISA

In a test conducted by Programme for International Students Assessment in 2012, Singapore students, and I repeat, Singapore students, beat the rest of the world to come up tops, not only in rote learning but also in creative thinking. Amazing isn’t it? 

After a decade of wearing the no talent tag, when they are deemed to be more stupid and useless than fake talents from the 3rd World, our students are world beaters. And those 3rd World countries where we drew our talents from were not even mentioned or appeared in the top rankings. Among those rated closer to Singapore are South Korea, Japan, Macau, HongKong, Shanghai, Taiwan, Canada, Australia and Finland. No wonder we are seeing the rise of Asia.

These students that topped the PISA test are likely to be strait A students for their O and A level examinations. And they are likely to be admitted to local universities and will also do very well. They will also be able to find employments quite easily and will be quickly promoted to middle management in the future.

But they will not be good enough to be at top management level. They will mostly be replaced by the fake talents from the 3rd World that they beat with hands down. Then they will add to the statistics of the unemployed or underemployed PMEs. And many will end up as their own bosses, driving taxis to pick up the foreign fake talents and hoping for some tips if they are lucky. If they are unlucky they will end up as punching bags to these foreign talents for their amusements.

Some of these who refused to accept their fate will try desperately to submit their resumes to the employment agencies operated by foreigners but would be told that they lacked the skill sets and experience needed for their clients. These foreign employment agencies would prefer to recruit their talents or fake talents from the 3rd World to fill up positions in this world class city.

One caveat, this is likely to be the picture if conditions remain like what it is now. Things may change in 10 or 20 years when all the free trade agreements are signed and foreigners flooded this city looking for jobs and our world beaters would count themselves lucky if they could even find employment in the first place.

Andreas Schleicher, Special Adviser to the OECD Secretary General on Education Policy and Deputy Director for Education and Skills has this to say, ‘It shows that today’s 15 year olds in Singapore are quick learners, highly inquisitive, able to solve unstructured problems in unfamiliar contexts and highly skilled in generating new insights by observing, exploring and interacting with complex situations.’ What he meant is that our students are not blind muggers but really talented and creative. But would those asses listen to him? I bet not. The asses will still be singing praise for foreign talents and recruiting fake talents and bring them in plane loads to replace these local talents in top jobs, middle jobs and eventually all jobs except taxi drivers.

Can these bright Singapore students look forward to a great career in the future? What do you think?