I used to work in the public sector and several years ago I graduated with a UniSIM degree. After an extremely long wait and several email exchanges with the HR department, they finally got back to me with the news.
Yes, I was not given any upgrade and remained as a junior officer.
I recall Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in the National Day Rally 2012, announced that Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and SIM University (UniSIM) will become the republic’s 5th and 6th universities. Both institutions will participate in the Government’s plan to increase the number of publicly funded full-time university places.
As we already know SIM collaborates with foreign universities in some of their degree courses. UniSIM also confer their own degrees and I obtained my degree from there.
It appears that there is no standardization in the public service. I asked around and found that only certain stat boards and ministries fully recognized UniSIM degrees. Not all stat boards or ministries share the same vision as PM Lee, let alone ready to offer better remuneration package to those who managed to graduate from their part-time degrees.
For people like me who wanted upgrade themselves and take up part-time degrees from so called recognized universities like UniSIM, it takes a lot of perseverance, sacrifices and determination. I have two young children, the youngest is 7 months old and another one in primary school. Besides juggling work commitments and studying, I have to be a father and husband. Not forgetting, that I have to manage my relationship with my parents who are old and unwell.
At that time, my wife also wanted to pursue her part-time degree but she had to put that plan on hold until I completed my studies. This is to ensure that the children don’t feel left out or neglected when our other half is busy studying. Alhamdulillah, my wife is currently pursuing her part-time degree in UniSIM.
Except for several ministries and stat boards, UniSIM graduates working in public service are offered lower starting pay as compared to NUS/NTU/SMU graduates. Some I heard are offered upgrades but no jump in pay or change in career progression.
I really enjoyed what I did in the public sector. Unfortunately, I cannot find any more good reason to continue this path. I found a job opportunity in private sector which offered me the same pay but better career prospects. As the cost of living is increasing in Singapore, I need to think about my family and our future. No one can make the change except ourselves.
I do hope that part-time graduates will be treated more fairly especially in the government sector.
Not just lip service.
Authored by Mohd Syahrizan