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While local grads can’t find jobs, Govt continues to fund foreign students studying here

TODAY published an article on Sunday ('Lower pay, discrimination: Some of the hurdles facing private university grads', 8 Apr 2018) highlighting the difficulties faced by our private university graduates in getting jobs here.

Francis (not his real name), who is a business and management graduate from SIM's University of London (UOL) programme sent in resumes "almost every week", but only received a handful of offers for temporary contract jobs.

He had no choice but to take on temporary contract jobs in administrative roles, where he worked alongside with several other private university graduates. He was paid $10 per hour or $1,800 monthly — even less than what a diploma holder earns.

"Francis’ job situation is an example of the challenges that private university graduates here face in their job hunts," reported TODAY.

The issue was thrown into the spotlight recently when the latest Private Education Institute (PEI) Graduate Employment Survey found that only one in two (47.4 per cent) private school fresh graduates secured full-time jobs six months after graduation.

Sharp decline in private university graduates getting full-time jobs

This was a sharp decline from the six in 10 figure (60.1 per cent) for the previous batch. They also earned less, drawing a median gross monthly salary of $2,650, while graduates from local autonomous universities like NUS, NTU and SMU earned $3,400.

Another private university graduate Esther (not her real name) found the going tough right after graduation. The 23-year-old, who earned her business and management degree from SIM last year received a “rude shock” when one prospective employer told her “outright” in an interview that the firm was only interested in hiring a local university graduate. She is now working as a legal secretary at a local law firm.

Others like James, 31, an accounting and finance SIM graduate, faced a major “stumbling block” when trying to apply for government jobs. He sent about 30 applications last August with “an asking pay of $3,500 for an entry-level position” but nothing was ever heard from the government.

Government funds foreign students' studies and enables them to work in Singapore after graduation

Meanwhile, the government continues to fund and subsidize foreign students studying at our local universities.

Take for example, at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in NUS, the government funds foreign students to the tune of $14,700 ($32,900 - $18,200) or 45% per year for their school fees.

In return, they are supposed to be "bonded" to work in Singapore for 3 years but essentially, they are auto-given a work pass to work here.

This is what the NUS website said:

"International Students who have applied successfully for the Scheme will be required to undertake a service bond under the terms of the Service Obligation to work for a Singapore-based company for three years upon completion of their degrees so as to discharge some of their obligations to the Singapore public for the high subsidy to their graduate education. Singapore-based companies refer to local and international companies that have a base in Singapore that is registered with the Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) as well as companies of such local and international companies registered with ACRA that are based overseas."

So, aren't these subsidized foreign students not only competing with Singaporean students for places at our local universities, they are also competing for jobs too?

In other first world countries like the US, they do not automatically allow foreign students to work in their country upon graduation because they protect the interests of their own citizens first.