Limit university degree validity to 5 years? MP Ang Wei Neng responds to backlash over suggestion in Parliament

West Coast GRC MP Ang Wei Neng clarified that he had suggested graduates could be requested to attend upgrading programmes every five years or so to keep updated.
PHOTO: YouTube/MCI

SINGAPORE - The suggestion to mandate university graduates here to attend upgrading courses every five years was raised as "food for thought", said MP Ang Wei Neng (West Coast GRC) following heated debate online about his "radical idea".

Mr Ang said this in a Facebook post on Thursday (March 3). His comments came after many netizens slammed his suggestion in Parliament on Tuesday, the second day of the Budget debate, to limit the validity of degrees from local universities to five years.

In his post, Mr Ang said: "My intention was to emphasise the need for Singaporeans to continually upskill to stay relevant in the modern economy, and spark a conversation about what role IHLs (institutes of higher learning) can play in this."

He clarified that he had suggested in Parliament that "graduates could be requested to attend training and upgrading programmes every five years or so, to keep themselves updated on the latest trends and technology affecting their industry".

"While a degree remains valid, the market value could diminish over time if graduates are not provided with opportunities for timely refresh and updates," he observed.

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In his speech supporting the transformation of institutes of higher learning to keep pace with the industry on Tuesday, Mr Ang had proposed putting a "time stamp" on degrees conferred by universities, which will entail degrees fading over time and students no longer being able to claim these as credentials.

"If you're serious about continuous training and lifelong learning, we have to be radical about transformation," he added.

Following his remarks, several flagged concerns that the suggestion may entail paying higher costs to renew university degrees while encouraging wealthier university students to turn to overseas universities where their degrees will not expire.

Others agreed with the need for refresher courses.

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Said netizen Christopher Wong: "Just imagine your superior with a 10- to 15-year-old degree trying to tell (you) what to do but having skills that are outdated or not relevant to today's climate.

"Yes, your boss might have 10 to 15 years of experience but that should not stop him or her getting 'refreshed'."

In his Facebook post, Mr Ang said he has been hearing sentiments both online and offline over the past few days, noting that many Singaporeans are "speaking fervently about this critical yet complex issue".

He said: "Moving forward, the best solutions will be co-created with fellow Singaporeans to explore more viable avenues to futureproof our economy."

The Straits Times has contacted Mr Ang for comment.

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.