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Prudence To Guide Rise In Local Varsity Enrolment
Source: http://www.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Edvantage/Story/A1Story20121009-376557.html
Source Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: Singapore
Created: Oct 10, 2012

AUCKLAND - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has indicated that even as the Government moves to increase university enrolment in Singapore, it will do so with prudence to ensure graduates have jobs.

Speaking at a dialogue with New Zealand businessmen, he said countries that wantonly "churned out" graduates simply created a different and worse problem for themselves: graduate unemployment.

He was asked about the city-state's policy on education in science and technology by Kiwi businessman Ken Stevens. Mr Lee said in reply that science and technology would likely transform the way economies produced.

Singapore is preparing itself for these changes by encouraging more students to take up the applied disciplines, such as engineering and the life sciences, and by emphasising the retraining of workers, he said. "We believe that we need to develop our people to the maximum potential in accordance to their abilities," he added.

But the Government needs to strike a balance between that aim and employability, he made clear.

"An unemployed university graduate is a much bigger problem than somebody who's got, say, a polytechnic diploma or some other qualification which is practice-oriented, which enables him to go and find a job and be productive," he said.

Mr Lee announced during his National Day Rally in August that by 2020, 40 per cent of each cohort would go to university, up from 27 per cent now.

He is on an official visit to New Zealand. Last night, he addressed businessmen at a dinner hosted by the non-profit Asia New Zealand Foundation.

Its chairman Philip Burdon praised Mr Lee for his role in boosting bilateral ties, and thanked Singapore especially for helping out in search-and-rescue efforts during the Christchurch earthquake last year.

Mr Lee, for his part, paid tribute to New Zealand's early recognition of the need to engage Asia and the constancy of its commitment since.

Ties with Singapore are warm, he said, both at the official level, in defence and trade, and at the people-to-people level. This stems from the two countries having a common interest in many issues because of their small sizes, such as progress towards an international order based on the rule of law and the push for free trade.

Singapore and New Zealand were among the four founders of the high-quality free trade grouping that has now expanded to become the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to include the United States.

Mr Lee called on New Zealand to continue to expand areas of cooperation with Singapore.

"Singapore can be the hub for New Zealand to connect with Asia and the world," he said, adding that the two could cooperate on developing food for Asian tastes.

They can also take advantage of complementarities in research, he said, noting that Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research was keen on partnering New Zealand institutes like AgResearch and Plant and Food Research on nutrition science.
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