Private Uni Grads In Trouble

Private university graduates are finding it increasingly difficult to find stable jobs in the workforce currently, as more and more companies are insisting on hiring graduates from local universities.

Such graduates, after months of sending in resumes only to be met with zero responses, usually resort to taking up temporary contract jobs in administrative roles, on an hourly pay of $10, or a monthly pay of $1,800. The jobs - which allow them to earn even less than a diploma holder - tend to be menial and boring.

Additionally, private university graduates have to battle perceptions regarding how their degrees are not as prestigious, as well has deal with discrimination from prospective employers.

The latest Private Education Institute (PEI) Graduate Employment Survey found that only one in two (47.4 per cent) private school fresh graduates secured themselves full-time jobs within six months of graduating. This was a sharp decrease from the six in 10 figure (60.1 per cent) for the previous batch. They also earn less, drawing a median gross monthly salary of $2,650, while graduates from local autonomous universities (AU) earned as much as $3,400 on average.  

Private university graduates have even been told bluntly by prospective employers that firms are only interested in hiring a local university graduate.

Moreover, some employers, rather than looking at university transcripts, were more concerned about looking at GCE 'O' and 'A' Level results, which has led to some private university graduates assuming that only a university's reputation matters when applying for a job position, and not the results obtained themselves.
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Private university graduates claim that the playing field for PEI graduates is skewed from the very beginning, with gradates from AUs having more time and resources available to them to do numerous internships. Put that together with how PEIs have less emphasis on internships, and the result is numerous PEI graduates missing out on jobs on default due to a lack of working experience. 

Companies also have a tendency to hire interns from local AUs, and having seniors recommend their younger schoolmates creates "exclusive" circles, hence severely limiting the chances and opportunities available to PEI students. 
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The typical suggested solution to this issue?

"PEI graduates should find themselves internships"

"PEIs should emphasise on internships more in their curriculum"

"PEI graduates should enrol in part-time courses at local universities"

However, this issue runs so much deeper than just internships and part-time courses. Even deeper than the degrees they hold. 

Firstly, why the distinction between local universities and private universities in a country where "every school is a good school"? Or does that idea stop at secondary schools?

Secondly, private university students typically pay more for their education than students at local AUs, and yet earn less than these students in the workforce. Something is definitely wrong there too.

Is there a solid basis for Singaporeans ranking private university students lower than students from AUs? With so many rankings done by various organisations and official bodies, it is getting increasingly difficult deciding which rankings we would rather trust. And not all of these rankings determine the quality of education offered at the universities. 

We are all familiar with NUS and NTU 'topping' the university rankings, both locally and across the region. Yet, those of us attending open houses by other universities have seen those universities claiming they topped the rankings. In the case of NUS and NTU, the rankings they top are usually academic rankings, given for the quality of research papers released by the universities. Other rankings, which are at times topped by some of the other universities, would include teaching pedagogies and other issues involving the education available at the universities. 
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In this case, it could be said that rankings are not a good-enough reason for employers to look down on graduates from certain universities.

Additionally, perhaps more companies could incorporate skill tests to gain a sense of which graduates are truly knowledgable in the subjects and fields important to their company's line of work. 

All in all, PEI graduates deserve to be given the same respect as AU graduates, because at the end of the day, they are all university graduates hoping to get employed. 

Some say PEI graduates need to be prepared to work even harder, to prove themselves to be as qualified as their fellow graduates from AUs. Honestly, it is our community's bias and perceptions regarding universities which need to change. And even though it is a solution which will take more time to take effect, it is a more sustainable and reasonable solution in the long run.

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