Shouldn’t publicly funded universities be more transparent about the staff it employs?


By: Leong Sze Hian

I refer to the article by blogger Phillip Ang, “Government should not keep two set of statistics on foreigners, something amiss”. The article stated that the National University of Singapore (NUS) stopped publishing statistics of foreign research staff at the university since 2003 and that the statistics published that year even had a breakdown by nationality. (link)

The report of 2003 said that out of 974 research staff the university had, 464 or almost half were from PRC – and only 180 were Singaporeans. Singaporeans formed only 20 percent of the total number of research staff.  And also, why were there only 17 research staff from the United Kingdom and another 17 from the United States? Is our top ranking NUS only able to attract hundreds of research staff from a communist third-world country?

The embarrassment from the published statistics could be one reason why the university stopped publishing such data. But shouldn’t publicly funded universities be more transparent about its staff?

The annual reports published by the university further showed that for the year in 2015 and 2016 NUS had surpluses of $734.8 and $52.1 million, respectively. According to the article in The New Paper titled, “Breaking down Uni tuition fees in Singapore” (The New Paper, Jun 9, 2016), local universities have been increasing their tuition fees for their undergraduate courses every year since 2010. If this is so, if there were surpluses for 2015, why was there a need to increase fees?

NUS has 32 percent international students – but are 41 percent non-S’porean students?

According to Times Higher Education, NUS has an international student population of 32 percent. But what is unclear is, if this 32 percent includes permanent residents (PR).

If it did not, and if we assume that the percentage of PR students is about the same as the about 13.3 per cent of the local population – could the percentage of PR students be about 9 per cent (68 per cent x 0.133)?

So, does it mean that the percentage of non-Singaporean students is about 41 per cent (32 + 9)?

Get the latest news, opinions and commentaries. Available on Android