Fairness of Foreign Scholarship Policy: Two Cents

Last month blogger Miss Catherine Jaevans shared her perspectives about foreign scholarship policy in a guest post, and her piece of writing set off a fair bit of thoughtful commotion in cyberspace. A netizen, who prefers to be known as DKSG, had harsh soul-searching advice for those still living under a rock. It goes:

"Let us look at the bigger picture with regards to the tertiary education system in Singapore. While I don't claim to be the authority on this social issue, I believe we need to be objective here- Singapore is not just competing against foreigners coming into Singapore or studying in Singapore. We Singaporeans are competing against the rest of the world.

Assuming Singapore decides not to accept foreigners, do you really believe they have nowhere else to head to?

Let's be truthful for one second; however discontented and angry we Singaporeans are ,we know today we have morally decent foreign talents in our community who are willing to fight alongside us when crunch time comes. Some of them are married here, some of them are PR here and some have obtained local citizenship. Shouldn't that count for something?

Students lament with the influx of foreigners, they face greater stress, biasedness and enjoy lesser opportunities to succeed in life. From a local's standpoint, why should someone who might simply come and go enjoy more privileges than I do? Take a step back now and think: have you been truly objective when making such judgment calls, or emotionally biased right from the get-go?

Are all stresses bad ? 10 years ago, I was a NUS CS student who graduated with an honours degree. During those times, we already had this foreign scholarship policy up and running; everywhere I see Chinese, Vietnamese, Indonesians, Malaysians and students of other nationalities (though in smaller numbers). In all honesty, for me it's probably hard to tell if it's really more stressful. I can't even decide if the stress we are under comes from competing against foreigners or against my own local peers. As far as the rest of the students around me are concerned, all are of equal abilities. In that consideration you cannot simply take 2 different perspectives, measure against each other and declare a superior one. A local is not necessarily better than a foreigner, and vice-versa.

One thing I know is I embrace competition, and healthy forms of competition is nothing short of being beneficial to me and my peers. Please be mindful, Singapore is competing against the rest of the world. We are nowhere as gigantic as China where we can simply close doors and interact with one another in bliss. Bear in mind whatever skill sets you acquire in reality are ultimately utilized to survive well against the rest who are more advanced and in better situations than Singapore. Keep this in mind, and don't fall into the pit thinking just because you won against your own peers, therefore you are better. You are probably just a frog in the well.

I love to compete against the foreigners. One thing is the pride of being a Singaporean, the other is you are competing with foreign talents and this is as real as it gets in any bustling, efficient education system. When you compete with the foreigners, your deficiencies are much more easily revealed and at the same time you get to learn about the strengths of your foreign peers. That's when you are able to begin improving yourself in areas you have not previously considered. Whilst Singapore lives with its own set of rules, people from other parts of the world play by another set. If Singapore is to be authentically competitive on the international stage, we will have to make considerable adjustments and adhere to a set of global specifications.

When you are standing on your homeland and yet you can't compete against others or are not willing to do so, then you don't deserve to belong to this land. The fact that only the fittest survive works everywhere. The fact that Singapore is small and does not own any natural resources except our talents is pretty much undeniable. Accept these facts and we might flourish. Live in denial and we will eventually perish. The only way we can continue to survive as a nation is to earn and command the necessary respect/admiration from the global community, not just today but more importantly tomorrow. How tomorrow turns out is extremely contingent on one's desire to strive and fight hard. If you are not willing to do so, then be prepared to wither.

The ranking of our universities are determined by how good our students fare compared to the rest of the world. If we really desire to be the best we can be, then we should learn to cooperate, rather than turn to shutting out foreigners altogether.

I strongly urge students with such mentality to change and take a broader view of the world you are living in. Don't be complacent thinking that less competition is better for you. It definitely isn't. Don't keep on whining that you are not able to become better than the foreigners; we should be ashamed of ourselves for whining about foul play all the time, when winning actually involves a simple shift in mindset to sharpen our competitive edges.

When I keep on hearing such defeatist sentiments, I sometimes wonder if Singaporean students are made of tofu. We should have the 遇强则强(grow stronger against a strong opponent) spirit. That's how we keep up with others. Self-isolation will never make Singapore stronger, on the contrary it will weaken the country. It wouldn't give you a more stable future since the rest of the world is getting better each day. We can't afford to keep the status quo and not adapt. So think wisely."


The Czar (Site Founder)

Dated 3 June 2013


Cyber-Wellness Programmes: Raising Collaboration And Interactivity

Taking up a 3rd language-some key issues

Do you really have no time to study?