story | Yip Jia Qi, Editor

photo | Yip Jia Qi

The units will be apparent in the article. Longer is not better.

Disclaimer: This article is extremely practical, money-minded, and makes very broad assumptions and rough estimates.

A university education is so much more than just the job you get at the end of it. The true value of an education should never be reduced to employment statistics. Employment statistics do not determine the value of a vocation. Nor does it determine the value of an individual as a member of society.

Some people do, however, see a degree as nothing other than a ticket to a higher monthly salary. That’s perfectly reasonable too. To this group, the Graduate Employment Survey would mean everything.

Last week, The Octant reported briefly on the Graduate Employment Survey, which ranked the Gross Monthly Salary (GMS) earned by recent graduates from the five autonomous universities. According to the survey, out of a total of 43 degrees offered by the National University of Singapore (NUS), the GMS of our Bachelor of Sciences (BSc) and Bachelor of Arts (BA) graduates rank 4th and 16th respectively.

However, for a somewhat fairer comparison, we must only compare Yale-NUS College’s degrees to other BA with Honours and BSc with Honours degrees, although the exact composition of majors that come under each of these degrees is varied. This is especially so for Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which reports the statistics for each major independently. In this case we took a simple (non-population weighted) average of their median GMS.

Looking purely at median GMS, which is probably a better picture, given Yale-NUS’ small population size, Yale-NUS BA with Honours graduates earn $323 and $140 more than similar NTU and NUS graduates respectively. Yale-NUS BSc with Honours graduates earn a cool $841 and $783 more than similar NTU and NUS graduates respectively.

Now, if you were a really practical person, you would point out that the tuition cost of going to Yale-NUS College is far greater than going to NUS’ Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) or NTU’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (HASS). You would be right.

To actually compare “Return on Investment”, we calculate the number of years it would take for you to repay your student debt. This is all assuming that you are a Singaporean, under the Tuition Grant Scheme (TGS), with neither financial aid nor scholarship, and using 20% of your monthly income for debt repayment. We also assume that your GMS remains constant, and there is no inflation or interest. For every other degree, it would take four years. For Yale-NUS graduates, it would take double that time. It would take you eight years if you graduate with a Bachelor of Science with Honours, and nine years if you graduate with Bachelor of Arts with Honours.

In these calculations, only raw academic tuition fees were used, because most other institutions in Singapore do not have a compulsory residential component. However, given that the additional $8000 residential fees is compulsory for Yale-NUS students, an argument could be made for including it in the calculation. I didn’t do it because I personally prefer not to know the exact answer to that calculation.

In short, we may earn more, but we take longer to pay our debts back. Is the extra time spent worthwhile? I guess that’s up to you to decide.

Median GMS Difference Cost of education (Annual)

[SG Citizen, after TGS]

Total cost

(4 years)

Years to break even
NUS Bachelor of Arts (Hons) $3 360 $140 $8 150 $32 600 4
NTU Bachelor of Arts (Hons) (Average across all HASS) $3 177 $323 $8 050 $32 200 4
Yale-NUS Bachelor of Arts with Honours $3 500 $0 $19 500 $78 000 9

 

Median GMS Difference Cost of education (Annual)

[SG Citizen, after TGS]

Total cost

(4 years)

Years to break even
NUS Bachelor of Science (Hons) $3 300 $783 $8 150 $32 600 4
NTU Bachelor of Science (Hons) (Average across whole College of Science) $3 242 $841 $8 050 $32 200 4
Yale-NUS Bachelor of Science with Honours $4 083 0 $19 500 $78 000 8

 

The views expressed here are the author’s own. The Octant welcomes all voices in the community. Email submissions to: yncoctant@gmail.com

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