SINGAPORE — The suggestion of mandating university graduates here to take refresher courses every five years has been raised as “food for thought”, MP Ang Wei Neng (West Coast GRC) said following a heated debate online about his “radical idea”.
Mr. Ang said so in a Facebook post on Thursday, March 3. His comments came after many netizens criticized his suggestion in parliament on Tuesday, the second day of the budget debate, to limit the validity of degrees from local universities to five years.
In his message, Mr. Ang said: “My intention was to highlight the need for Singaporeans to continually upskill themselves to remain relevant in the modern economy and to spark a conversation about the role that IHLs (Institutes of Higher Education ) can play in this regard.”
He said he had suggested to Parliament that “graduates could be asked to attend training and refresher programs every five years or so, to keep abreast of the latest trends and technologies affecting their industry”.
“As long as a degree remains valid, the market value could decline over time if graduates do not have the ability to refresh and update in a timely manner,” he observed.
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In his speech supporting the transformation of higher education institutes to keep pace with industry on Tuesday, Ang had proposed putting a “time stamp” on degrees issued by universities, which will lead to the disappearance of degrees with the time and the inability for students to claim them as credentials.
“If you’re serious about continuing education and lifelong learning, we have to be radical about transformation,” he added.
Following his remarks, several expressed concern that the suggestion could lead to higher costs for renewing university degrees while encouraging wealthier university students to turn to foreign universities where their degrees would not. will not expire.
Others agreed with the need for refresher courses.
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Internet user Christopher Wong said: “Just imagine your boss with a 10-15 year old degree trying to tell (you) what to do but having skills that are outdated or irrelevant to today’s climate.
“Yes, your boss may have 10-15 years of experience, but that shouldn’t stop him from ‘cooling off’.”
In his Facebook post, Ang said he had heard sentiments both online and offline over the past few days, noting that many Singaporeans were “talking earnestly about this critical but complex issue”.
He said: “Going forward, the best solutions will be co-created with other Singaporeans to explore more viable avenues to future-proof our economy.”
The Straits Times has contacted Mr. Ang for comment.
This article was first published in The time of the straits. Permission required for reproduction.