Singapore’s Higher Education Scene: Leapfrogging into the Future

Abstract

The question is often asked in Singapore: Why should the Government invest heavily in education, and especially subsidise Higher Education?  However, more important questions should be asked: What kind of future is envisaged for Singapore, going from 5o years of independence (SG50) in 2015 to an aspiration of SG100 in 2065 and what role do the Higher Education institutions play in this envisioning?  It is argued that building Singapore as a hub for innovation and enterprise is the key to survival in a world that today is recognized as being volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA).  We need our universities and polytechnics, together with public research institutions, to produce innovations and technologies that may help to overcome the huge challenges that are being faced in the 21st century by nation and society.  This presentation will look at Singapore’s higher education spending and increasing investments in higher education (in several directions) and the reasons for doing so.  Is it too much of an aspiration to have a world class higher education sector for the small island nation and city state, with its 720 square kilometres, 5.6 million population, and a 97.0 literacy rate (Singapore in Figures, 2017, Department of Statistics, Singapore)?