During an hour-long ministerial forum with students of the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) on 4 September, the Prime Minister answered several questions from the audience.
Videos of the premier’s answers were uploaded into a playlist on the Prime Minister’s Office Youtube Channel.
One of the moderators spoke about trying to make a decision on whether to finish his degree or continue working at his start-up. As such, he asked PM Lee what value is there in getting a degree from a local university, especially in light of the fact that many employers are looking less at degree qualifications.
The PM said that it comes down to what the university is teaching you. “If the university is teaching you something which is useful, relevant to what you are doing now, relevant to what you want to do in your life…then I would say go complete your degree, and then come back and pursue your passion,” he advised.
PM Lee then emphasised that the value of a good university education is in learning how to learn and how to continue learning even after you’ve graduated. He added that the government tries “very hard” to ensure that Singapore universities, especially autonomous universities, maintain a high standard and teach their students not only what they need to know but also how to think and learn.
“I think for the long term, if you get a good university education, it is something that will be valuable to you after you have forgotten the details which you have learned in university,” he said.
“You don’t need to know all the facts but you must understand where to look for the facts and you must have that discipline of the mind, that training to understand how to look at problems, to analyse problems, decide what to do, whom to get advice from, and how to proceed,” he later added.
Later, using the example of media giants like Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates, the PM said, “I think for most of us mere mortals, I would not bet on being Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg. I would bet on working hard and if I become Steve Jobs, that’s a bonus.”