Knee-jerk opposition to the admission of international students in Singapore’s autonomous universities revolve around familiar themes, yet the counter-arguments thus far are problematic too: First, that besides top-level figures on the proportion of permanent residents and foreigners at the local universities, little is actually known about the distribution within the universities and their schools or departments, as well as funding amounts; and second, that the aforementioned benefits accrue most directly to those within the university, and not necessarily to those beyond it or those who might have been denied admission.
Without offering greater transparency on the distribution of international students and their funding amounts, and without broadening the discourse to include socio-economic issues relating to admissions to and financial support within the local universities – such as that of the class divide – the government will continue to confront the same scepticism, entrenching the same minds on both sides. Continue reading
The class divide in Singapore needs to be bridged, yet the commentaries or responses which followed have tiptoed around structural fixes, focusing instead on superficial gestures which preserve the status quo. In particular, these gestures range from volunteering to social mixing through sports, arts, or heritage activities, prompting a TODAY letter writer to remark that “what we need to overcome this divide is social solidarity, not cosmetic social mixing” (TODAY, Jan. 3). Continue reading