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Private Universities in Singapore: What to Consider?

While there are no real “private” universities in Singapore there are definitely bachelor degree awards that can be achieved through privately owned institutes. In fact, there are many more options than one would expect. So if you’re considering pursuing a degree from a private-owned institute, this article will shed light on what to expect on this underrated path  and explain why this private education could be what you need after all

private university in singapore pathway

Importance of Specialisation

The reality for many students in Polytechnic, ITE, or Junior College, is the lack of direction in terms of career path –– most students are not given that option because majors are balloted based on O Level and N Level results. A versatile major in Business and Communications is a great option for many. However, specialisations have the perk of allowing students to gain depth into a specific industry or programme. Even within a Business Degree, many choose to specialise in areas of Marketing, Finance or Human Resources. These specialised tracks are tailored to individuals who want to gain added expertise and skills required in their industry of choice.

That being said, choosing a specialisation early on, is not only more time-efficient but it is also substantially cheaper, given that specialised programmes are more targeted and typically faster to attain.

According to an article from The Straits Times, ValuePenguin’s Senior Vice-President DuckJu Kang: “Specialised degrees are increasingly becoming more valuable, and they definitely make more money than general ones as they help to differentiate you in the job market.” He goes on to say that, “specialised skill-sets require more training, and, if they align with industry demand, tend to have higher returns on investment.”

Fast Track Degree

Fast-track programmes have gained significant traction over the years for the very reason that it equips you with industry skills and knowledge in the shortest time possible. It isn’t uncommon to see one-year bridging or foundational programs to prepare students for the intellectual rigour of higher education. And upon successful completion, they are recognised as the basis of admission to the college or university.

This available option has encouraged many to bypass the polytechnic/ITE route on a focused path to attaining a degree, saving them both time and money. According to Today Online, Mr Keith Ang, who was denied placement in SMU, went on to pursue a Bachelor of Commerce degree at another private institute where he graduated in 18 months and entered into a career with the Nielsen company. He goes on to say that the time saved gave him at least a two-year headstart compared to his peers.

The difference in the length of study can be attributed to the vastly different module systems between private and public education. For one, students in public universities are required to complete common core modules such as Sociology, Philosophy and Asian studies for interdisciplinary exposure. On the other hand, students in private institutions dive straight into their field of specialisation and learn in a more focused manner. 

Are private degrees recognised by employers?

There is a common misconception that government agencies only consider job applicants with degrees from public universities. In reality, there are plenty of public sector jobs taken up by graduates from private colleges. Although there are public sector companies that prefer public universities graduates, it does not mean that there are no opportunities for those graduating from private colleges. This limitation is even more diminished for mid-career candidates, where relevant work experience is placed at a higher premium compared to academic qualifications. 

This stigma against private degree holders is perpetuated by the erroneous focus on the value of the certification alone. In fact, a 2018 report released by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) found that the proportion of job openings for professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMET) –– where academic certification was not a primary benchmark ––  rose to 52 per cent from 42 per cent in the previous year. 

The TODAY article also reported that employers placed greater emphasis on skills and relevant working experience for these PMET positions, which included software, web and multimedia developers, systems analysts, and commercial and marketing sales executives.

Moreover, according to Mr Siddharth Jain, chief creative director of educational gaming company Playware Studios: “When we look at a candidate, we’re looking at his cover letter, the number of projects he has done, the kind of resume he has … Just the fact that you’re from NUS (National University of Singapore) or NTU doesn’t give me any comfort because we’ve had experiences where students have a lot of bookish knowledge but not enough hands-on experience.” 

This sentiment is shared by many employers and is continuing to grow despite the social stigma against private degree holders. It also signifies that job seekers play an integral role in pursuing other meaningful forms of career development aside from certification alone. 

Mid-Career &  Part-Time Education

Beyond the first phase of entering the workforce, a university degree is still essential for many mid-career development opportunities. In fact, the minimum requirement for most high paying (link to 1st article) jobs in Singapore is a degree. This requirement is especially true for many managerial and leadership positions because of 2 main reasons: 

  1. The positive association between higher education and leadership
  2. Corporate benchmark qualifications required for promotion or leadership promotions

Whatever the reason may be, a part-time degree is usually the best option –– and private colleges are the perfect destination for it. The nature of a part-time education allows you to seek career opportunities while studying, incurring a significantly lower opportunity cost as compared to pursuing full-time studies.

If you have already accumulated a wealth of industry experience, a mid-career degree is most likely to give your resume the extra boost, as compared to a fresh grad whose only credentials are likely to be his/her education. Hence, the apparent selection would be to go through the fastest route that can get you the certification you require. This point is especially true for corporates seeking out degrees for job promotions due to the minimum qualifications required for managerial or leadership positions. 

Private Colleges offer not only a greater variety of part-time degrees but also provide an accelerated pathway to attaining the required certification. 

Pursue Higher Education with Auston

Auston offers one of the most rewarding and fast-track engineering programs in Singapore. As one of the only engineering-specialised institutes of higher education in Singapore, they offer high-quality and academically rigorous programs ranging from diploma to degree levels. They have established a remarkable community of students and alumni passionate about the industry and continue to nurture many aspiring engineers, with graduates working for globally recognised MNCs. 

Find out how you can benefit from their world-class programmes in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Construction Project Management and many more, to fast-track your career in Engineering!

So What Should I Do Now?

We recommend that you start looking for degree programmes and hopefully, you choose us.

Many people ask where do I start.  

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