6 reasons S'porean universities hire foreign faculty members instead of locals

Somehow everyone kind of assumes Singaporean universities don't take too kindly to local faculty members.

Belmont Lay| June 01, 03:15 AM

It has been revealed that 44 percent of Singaporean PhD students believe Singaporean universities have a preference for hiring foreign faculty members over locals.

Many factors contribute to this perception, one of which is the dwindling number of Singaporean faculty members in Singaporean universities.

However, the reasons why Singaporean institutions hire foreigners instead of Singaporeans might not be as straightforward as simply an outright preference for foreigners.

Here are 6 reasons Singaporean universities end up hiring foreigners instead of Singaporeans:


1. Local universities prefer punching above their weight

Firstly, local institutions suffer from residual inferiority complex.

The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University tend to hire academics who are already established as they are concerned with university rankings and demand "big names" to produce publications, win prestigious grants and receive international recognition, all of which sees young Singaporean graduates being passed over for the job.


2. Locals don't have what it takes sometimes

Moreover, Singaporean PhD graduates might not specialise in fields that the university is seeking expertise in.


3. Singaporean PhD graduates have been poached by universities elsewhere better than NUS and NTU

Next, many Singaporean PhD students are pursuing their degrees in prestigious universities around the world. As such, many Singaporean PhD holders have done exceedingly well and have even received tenure-track job offers outside of Singapore's leading universities.


4. Singaporeans are lured by the perception of freer environments elsewhere

Having studied overseas, Singaporean academics are also drawn to the more vibrant intellectual community overseas, such as in the United States, where they perceive the environment to be freer.


5. Self-limiting factor of Singaporean PhD graduates

Rather tellingly, one of the biggest hurdles of local PhD holders is themselves: There is a preconceived notion among Singaporean PhD holders that local universities tend to hire foreign faculty members and are ambivalent about hiring locals.


6. Singaporean universities don't know how to retain talent

Survey have been done and it was found that Singaporean universities did not put enough effort into hiring back Singaporeans studying abroad or in cultivating and retaining academics already working in Singapore.

This causes a local brain drain and a foreigner brain gain.

However, with all these reasons mentioned, there are still some mitigating factors as to why foreign academics are needed.

This is because foreigners do provide diversity in an academic environment and this can help prevent intellectual inbreeding.


The original information for this article can be found in University World News and Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia.

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44% of S’porean PhD students believe S’porean universities prefer hiring foreign faculty members


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