A private degree’s worth in Singapore
Does the university you get a degree from matter when job hunting?
Singapore’s public universities hold high rankings internationally. It is thus no wonder why many potential students find it difficult to secure a position in them, and aim for private university options instead.
However, a recent survey showed that private university graduates were almost 20 per cent less successful at finding a job than their public university counterparts within half a year of graduation, and their salaries were also 23 per cent lower on average.
This raises the question – is getting a private degree disadvantageous when compared to a public one? We spoke to some youths to find out what their experience was like.
“Before I enrolled in a private university, I realised how many people around me categorised private university students as individuals who are not as academically inclined,” said Fauziah Banu, 26.
Fauziah graduated with a business administration degree from the University of Buffalo, Singaore Institute of Management (SIM), in the year 2016. She only secured a full-time job after job-hunting for about a year.
“The difficulty was not only about securing a job, but it was difficult to even score an interview. If I had been given more interview opportunities I am confident that I would have nailed a job faster,” she said.
Although job hunting remains a challenge for more private university graduates, private universities continue to remain popular among students with their more lenient entry requirements.
“My graduating GPA is not the most ideal, so entering a local public university will be challenging. Therefore, choosing to pursue a degree from a private university is my top option, even though it might not be my ideal scenario,” said third-year polytechnic student Ian Izdeehar, 19.
Students like Ian do not feel that attending a private university is disadvantageous because many employers in Singapore look at other factors beyond academics when accessing a potential job candidate.
“I thought local university students stood a higher chance than me when it came to job hunting. But I’ve seen that many companies do consider skills, such as being street smart and having prior working experience, more important than the actual degree itself,” said RMIT graduate Wong Pei Ting, 24, who now works as a sales operations executive at Eatigo.
Some public university graduates share the same sentiments.
Nanyang Technological University graduate Kan Jiaen, 23, said: “I started job hunting upon graduation and saw that most of the job descriptions required at least three to five years of experience. I eventually gave up finding a full-time job and settled for an internship instead.”
So while private university graduates may find themselves facing a few more challenges than their public university friends, many felt that their degree ultimately did help them achieve their dreams.
“Even though it did take me a longer time, as compared to some of peers from public university, my private degree was definitely useful and did get me to where I wanted to be eventually,” Pei Ting said.