Photo of Ong Ye Kung from Alfred Chua Today Online

When queried by the media why Polytechnics, Universities and ITEs are not merging due to falling birth rate, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung claimed that these schools will continue to have “good critical mass” even if the Singaporean cohort fall by 15%.

“The situation for ITE, polytechnics and universities is quite different from JCs’. ITE currently has an intake of about 15,000 across its three campuses. Even if demographic changes mean this number could go down by 10 to 12 per cent by 2020 or 2025, “with three campuses we will (still) see a good critical mass. The situation with the five polytechnics and six universities – which have an intake of 24,500 and 19,000 students each year respectively – is similar, he said. Cohort sizes are projected to fall between 10 and 15 per cent by 2025, but the polytechnics and universities would still have a critical mass.”

However, the Minister has implicitly suggested that the polys and unis will accept more foreigners to make up for the shortfall in Singaporean enrollment. Education Minister Ong Ye Kung has also conveniently left out the fact that ITE accepts only Singaporean students, and do not accept international students with foreign qualifications – unlike the polys and unis.

Currently, the local unis has a policy of reserving 20% of its enrollment for international students with foreign qualifications. The actual foreigner presence of local uni NTU and NUS is estimated to be at 45%.

Earlier in the week, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung dropped a bombshell and revealed a secret government policy that disallow too many Singaporeans to obtain a university degree. Minister Ong accidentally disclosed at an education forum in Switzerland that the government put a cap of 30% limit on the number of Singaporean students to enroll in universities – never mind if their grades qualify for admission or if their grades are better than the international applicants. The PAP Minister said that having too many Singaporean degree holders will make them unemployed or depress their salaries, however, no such concern is mentioned for ITE and Poly graduates who command even much lesser salaries.

In 2016, the median fresh graduate degree holder salary in 2016 is S$3,360 ex-CPF, while the poly diploma grad takes S$2,100 ex-CPF. There is no salaries statistics for ITE graduates from 2013 onwards, and their last official starting salaries in 2013 was S$1,650 ex-CPF.

As of Dec 2016, there are 192,300 Employment Pass holders and 179,700 S-Pass holders – both group are foreign degree holders in direct competition for employment with Singaporean degree and diploma holders. For non-degree holder foreigners, there are 437,500 who compete with ITE certificates holders.