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The Straits Times

Local Or Overseas Universities: Why Compare?

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

About guanyinmiao

A man of knowledge lives by acting, not by thinking about acting. Carlos Castaneda.

Discussion

3 thoughts on “Local Or Overseas Universities: Why Compare?

  1. “when two persons look at the same pictures but they see different things!”
    Almost all our cabinet ministers went to
    the top Uni in UK and USA, do they embrace
    democracy ? do they think one party system
    is right for society ? do they let us make some noise by having a handful of
    opp MP ?
    Judging from GE2011, i feel they have wasted all taxpayer money !! my daughter
    went to NUS but joined the exchange programe in UK where she took time to travel all over Europe visiting the sights and museums and historical monuments and even interned in London.
    She is very cosmopolitican in her outlook even though she went to a SAP school..Singapore is a small country. Our kids need to have C Q (culture Q ) in this globalised economy.

    Posted by pinkie | May 20, 2011, 10:17 am
    • I agree; the onus is on the individual to determine how he conducts or prepares himself to maximise opportunities in different schools. Sure, good teachers and good systems help facilitate the process, but ultimately the student is the most responsible.

      Jin Yao

      Posted by guanyinmiao | May 20, 2011, 11:04 am

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  1. Pingback: Daily SG: 20 May 2011 » The Singapore Daily - May 20, 2011

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