Why an arts degree is also valuable

UTown at the National University Singapore (NUS) houses Singapore’s first residential colleges as well as international research centres by top overseas universities.

Singapore is one of the richest countries in the world. Its financial growth hinges on its bustling financial centre and export trade, among others.

With our economy driven by meritocracy and pragmatism, it is common for people to be dismissive of a liberal arts degree.

This has led employers to favour science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem) graduates over arts graduates.

But are Stem students really superior to arts students?

A liberal arts degree places emphasis on soft skills, such as critical analysis, clear and concise writing, and the art of persuasion.

Students are trained to have excellent written and oral skills, where the clarity of self-expression is imperative to doing well in their course.

A study done by STJobs in 2014 found that the attributes employers value most are communication and interpersonal skills.

Employers also appreciate critical and creative thinkers. In fact, it seems that they actually place more emphasis on soft skills, compared with the degree one holds.

I am not postulating that a liberal arts degree is more important than a Stem one; both are equally needed for our country's social and economic progress.

However, it is time to reconsider the flawed notion that a liberal arts education is useless and impractical, and work towards a society that unifies both the arts and the sciences.

This article was first published on April 27, 2016.
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