Thursday, 9 October 2014

Were Singaporean Students and Professors Sacrificed for NTU Top Rankings?

Singaporeans are Collateral Damage for
Top Universities Rankings.  Was it Worth it?

“NTU heads QS' list of top 50 universities …” according to London-based Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), one of three international universities ranking systems.

For the sake of meeting the Criteria of a Bogus Ranking Standard of Dubious Excellence, it appears that NOTHING was spared so as to Obtain a Brand of Questionable Authenticity.

The dubious QS Methodology raises many Questions. It involved Academic Reputation (40%), Employer Reputation (10%), Faculty/Student Ratio (20%), Citations per Faculty (20%), International Students Ratio (5%) and International Staff Ratio (5%).  Let’s examine 3 of the Criteria here.

International Students Ratio (5%)
In 2013, 28% of NTU’s 23,484 undergraduates or 6,575 were foreigners. Why 28% foreign students? Canadian universities, for example, averaged only 8.9% foreign students in 2009. 

Some NTU “rejects” even went on to Ivy League Universities overseas. Many understandably could not afford the costly overseas education. A mere tweaking of the arbitrary cut-off points for NTU Admissions would easily have absorbed 6,500 more Singapore students. The cutoff point appeared deliberate in order to have less local students, in favour of foreign studnets in order for NTU to excel in the foreign students criteria of the QS Ranking criteria.

Were more than 6,500 Singaporean students, or between 1,700-1,900 annually, denied NTU admission into various 3-year and 4-year Undergraduate Programs, over 2009-2013, so that NTU could excel in the International Students Ratio criteria of the QS Ranking?

It is unacceptable that Singapore students who have completed tougher A-Levels exams should be rejected over foreign students from 3rd and 4th countries who may have performed well on their much easier and lower standard High School exams.

Totally Unacceptable is also the Fact that at least 40% of the “rejected” students would have completed National Service in their citizenship duty to serve and defend this Country, and only to find upon NS completion that a Public Institution in our Beloved Country had “sold them out” for a Foreign bogus ranking standard of dubious excellence!

What is Baffling is the fact that subscribing to a Global Universities Ranking was deemed necessary for most American and European Universities in order to attract fee-paying foreign students, mostly from China and Vietnam. For Singapore, millions of Singapore funds are used to pay for the thousands of “free” scholarships of most foreign students to study in NTU and other local Universities. 
WHY THEN IS THE NEED FOR A BOGUS RANKING AUTHENTICATION to attract Foreign Students to study “free” here?

International Staff Ratio (5%)
Singaporean Professors in NTU were similarly discriminated for a better QS Ranking.  In a purge of Professors under the pretext of Tenure Evaluation from 2007-2010, mostly Singaporean Professors, including many already qualified for Tenure previously, were dismissed.  And when the dusts settled in 2010 after the Purge, Singapore citizens including new citizens formed only 44% of the faculty; 56% of NTU faculty are foreigners from 56 countries worldwide including Singapore PRs.

Canadian universities in 2006 had only 33% Professors who are foreigners or “immigrants”. Most Universities also have a majority of local Professors.

Professors who are Singaporeans were clearly discriminated and sacrificed so that NTU could excel in the International Staff Ratio criteria of the QS Ranking.

Faculty/Student Ratio (20%)
Following the Purge of Singaporean Professors, many more foreigners were engaged as NTU Professors. These are mostly freshly-graduated PhDs, and others lacking the acclaims, experience and research citations of those Singaporean Professors who were “terminated” by NTU. Their increased numbers were however necessary in order to meet the QS’ Faculty/Student Ratio.

Seriously, what is “Faculty/Student Ratio” a Proxy Measure for? It is Certainly NOT a Proxy Measure for either teaching quality or learning excellence.  In fact, a high staff-student ratio also belies the fact that most NTU tutorial classes actually pack 28-30 students to one Tutor.  Furthermore, did every “Faculty” staff actually have a high level of contact hours with students? Or did many “Faculty” staff actually spend more than 70%-90% of their time in management and administrative duties instead of teaching, guiding and facilitating students learning?  QS Rankers however relied mainly on NTU self-reporting information and did not visit the Institutions being ranked, as mandated for any credible Quality Assurance confirmation.  

While the above 3 Criteria may account for just 30% of the QS Criteria, the sacrifice of Singaporeans as students and Professors appeared necessary as the tipping points for NTU to excel and top the bogus standard of dubious excellence.

United Nation Education agency UNESCO had also challenged the validity and reliability of University Rankings like QS, viewing them “of dubious value” that “use shallow proxies as correlates of quality.” Really Sad, ALL THE SACRIFICES BY SINGAPOREANS ACTUALLY FOR NOTHING AUTHENTIC OR OF SUBSTANCE, REALLY. 

For the Sake of Authenticity and Integrity, Singapore universities should no longer participate in any “Global Universities Ranking” scams.  Singapore’s presence in the Global Universities Rankings invariable lends our hard-earned Reputation for Authenticity and Honesty to mask their lack of credibility, validity and reliability.  We owe it to our Founding Generations never to cheapen our Reputation, painstakingly built over the past 50 years, in any manner.   

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