“What better place to pursue business studies than my home country, where the local curriculum and Asian perspectives are most relevant to my future career in Singapore” (Foreign Universities Not Always Better, Mr. Nicholas Lim).
The commentary on degrees offered by overseas universities in Singapore – “Foreign Universities Not Always Better” (May 14, 2011) by Mr. Nicholas Lim – brings up the common discussion on whether an overseas education is superior to a local one. The conversation has gathered in momentum, as increased accessibility – in terms of college applications and airway transportation – has made studying overseas less of a hassle. Nonetheless, amidst the assortment of perspectives, I firmly believe that debates comparing colleges and universities – be it foreign versus local, or local versus local – will always be inconclusive, and serves little purpose.
University education is not as straightforward as the preceding years, primarily because of the combination of course selection, and the unique configuration of modules within semesters. More importantly, given that the college years are usually crucial formative years, prospective freshmen would also take into consideration hostel living conditions, campus atmosphere, co-curricular activities, internship openings et cetera. Academic excellence per se is not longer the sole determinant for performance or employability.
Proponents of Singapore universities – like Mr. Lim – will never fail to point out the familiarity of local campuses, and the regional contextualisation – in terms of the relevance of courses and job opportunities – on offer. Practically, with regard to cost and budgeting, most households would prefer the affordability of Singaporean schools; at the same time, not forgetting the physical proximity to family and friends. Above all, comparatively and anecdotally, local degrees do not necessarily pale in comparison to the certifications offered by their overseas counterparts.
Unfortunately, in staunch promotions – and defences – of their respective schools, student and teacher representatives from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the Singapore Management University (SMU) tend to bombard members of the public with a multitude of accreditations, ranking figures, and positive statistical figures. Student ambassadors, especially, get carried away with these comparisons; and speedily forget that besides pragmatic individuals who seek university as a mere stepping stone, there is an overwhelming majority who genuinely seek to get the most out of a holistic experience.
On the other hand, for students who seek to further their studies overseas; beyond the substance of prestigious, well-established colleges, living and studying abroad can be quite a challenge. Trying to adapt to foreign surroundings will not be easy, but should one establish himself to proactively interact with students from all over the globe, it would be tremendously beneficial for constructive networking and cultural immersion.
So cease the debates and contentions; because if students make university decisions based upon a plethora of varying yardsticks, how will one determine if one school is better than the other. Only the student, and his family, can make the best decision individually.