As of 1 Jan 2017, Singapore’s Civil Service has abolished the education level discrimination which graded a civil servant’s promotions and salaries based off his education level. Under the old structure, there were four divisions – degree holders, diploma/A level certificate holders, secondary school certificate holders and primary school certificate holders. The move to remove the division grading will now see promotions based off on individual’s contributions, and applies to ministries including education and police force.
In a media statement to the media, the Public Service Department (PSD) said:
“The change is in recognition that this administrative classification could leave a perception that our officers’ capabilities and potential for higher-level work are determined or limited by their educational qualifications, which is not so.”
However, the removal of education level discrimination does not mean that the recruitment entry to Civil Service is lowered. In 2013, 56% of the civil servants are degree holders and most of them are new hires.
PSD also cautioned that education qualifications are still important when hiring fresh school leavers, hence giving higher priorities to degree holders and those with better grades. The Singapore government claimed the move will cut down on “paper-chasing”, however this is limited to only existing hires.
The move to cut down on “paper-chasing” comes only after two high profile student suicides over exam stress, and the increase of foreign degree holders. More Singaporean degree holders are now holding foreign degrees from offshore-based education institutions like MDIS and SIM. In Singapore, degrees from government universities like NUS, SMU and NTU have higher priority over foreign degree holders. However, the reverse is also true, e.g. an Australian degree from UNSW will be better-recognised in Australia over a NUS degree.