Questionable numbers

Two sets of numbers in Hsien Loong’s speech don’t really make sense. The first is the number of university places from 9,000 to 12,000 in a decade, from 2001 to 2011. By now every Singaporean should be familiar with the increase in population from 3m to the present 5m plus, or almost a doubling of the population in the last decade or so. The problem is so glaring that our super talents even failed to see and failed to provide for it. Go figure it out.

With such a huge increase in population and the provision of 18% of university places for foreign students, the total increase in places is only 3000 when the population gone up by nearly 3m. Maybe the number is too big and too fast that it is very difficult to grasp even for the most talented.

The other numbers, income ceiling for BTO flats from $8k to $10k and $10K to $12k for Exec condominiums. Superficially looks like a big relaxation. It was reported in the Today paper yesterday that a young couple whose combined income was $11k were feeling lucky. So happy, now qualifies to buy EC. Really?

In the past, when one registered to buy a HDB flat, they used your income from the date of registration. I was told that today, they used the income when one is offered the flat. (Correct me if I am wrong). Get the idea? This is one of the sick causes of why many young people got kicked out of the system when they could not get a flat within a few years.

Would the $11k couple still be qualified in 3 or 4 years time when the flat is built? For such mid level professionals, a couple of thousands of increment over a 3/4 year period is common. And there are two of them. It is quite possible that one year after registering they could see themselves disqualified with income exceeding the $12k.

Such situation will affect many in the $8k to $10k group who are eligible for BTO as well. It will affect the singles as well. So, is the increase/solution really effective, or will it help the singles and young couples or all the flat applicants?


Anonymous said...

Hello Mr Chua,
I always enjoy reading your blog, the downloading difficulties notwithstanding. I hope other people do not give up reading your blog because of this difficulty.
The main point of my comment today - I don't quite follow the arguments in your opening paragraphs about the number of university vacancies vis-a-viz the number of immigrants. But I do understand your comments about the income qualifiers for housing.
Ta. Debbie

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Debbie, welcome to the blog.
I was told that if you upgrade to explorer Chrome it will help. Firefox is not too bad either. But if you are using incompany system, the series of firewalls could slow down the speed badly.

In 2001, there were 9000 places. Now 12,000 which gives an increase of 3000. Of this 18% is taken up by foreign students, 18%x12,000 or 2160. The net increase for Singaporeans is thus much lower.

Population went up from 3m to 5m. Citizens or PRs, they will apply to the uni. The demand for places have grown much more than places increased.

Pity those citizens who could not get a place and got to fork out a lot of money for an overseas education.

Anonymous said...

However, the bulk of the new migrants will not need to attend University. Their children may also not be of University going age yet or have no desire to attend Universities in Singapore. I'm not so sure if your theory is entirely correct.

Anonymous said...

I might be wrong but I think hdb will based it on the pay when you applied for the flat. We crossed the limit but we were still allowed to buy our bto.

Anonymous said...


Here's where try to be sneaky with numbers.
From 9k - 12k is a 3k increase, yet they say 2k is added. What happened to the 1k? Non-uni like Poly or for FT?
Given the total population now is 5m, 12k of uni seats is still pathetic. What's the context here? Against what total # of students, and how many ended up having to go outside of SG?
We cannot presume the people who migrate here don't have uni-going children. Not all are young migrants.
The fact that we have to import foreign students is another starting signs that we don;t have enough local uni talents = not enough working talent = import more foreign talents! Do you see/get the vicious cycle?
Just build more university for christ sake and get all our students uni-fied!! Otherwise, how to compete with nation of 7m graduates from China every year which our PM is salivating at getting them over!!!
DAFT policies

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi anon, the 2000 increase is for the next few years when total intake goes up to 14,000.

Short cut for good grads is to go to China and India and import a couple of millions from them.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi anon 12:49, good that you got your flat. During my time you retained your registration number in the queue, and if I am not wrong, they used the income on the date of registration. This should be the way.

I think they have changed the system of retaining the queue number and using the latest income on being offerred the flat. Not sure about your case, is it that the limit was slightly exceeded?

Govt policies affect a lot of people and especially in the case of housing when tens or hundreds of thousands could be the difference. The govt must act responsibility for the good of the people.

Yin Shanyang said...

Hi Chua.

I’m no statistician, but I like to draw pictures of numbers. And I like to read the outcome of the census.

I think using the increase in total population between 2001 to 2011 is misleading. Mainly because of the explosive growth of the non-resident population in Singapore ( see )

Instead I propose using the increase of the resident population ( citizen & PR ) of age group 15 – 24 as a better guide. Which in this case, from the two previous census years, 2000 & 2010. The increase was from 423,522 to 510,940 ( see 2000, 2010 )

So now, there is a 20% increase in the “university-going” population ( 87,418 ÷ 423,522 ) versus a 33% increase in university placement ( 3,000 ÷ 9,000 ).

So I would think that the disparity is not as large as it would seem. I’m not sure about how the 18% provision for foreign students plays out here, but I would definitely say that it’s not as outrageous as it seemed if you compare by total population growth.

Lastly, I think the other factors like overseas studies ( whether there’s an increase ) have affected the numbers as well.

Chua Chin Leng aka redbean said...

Hi Yin Shanyang, welcome to the blog.

Without the full data on the table it is difficult to be accurate in what we are discussing except making some generalisation. Even in the mypaper today, it said that 12,000 Singaporean students enter university each year which is obviously wrong when total places available is 12,000 and 18% or 2,160 of these were reserved for foreign students.

The important point to note is the number of good and eligible Singaporean students unable to secure places in the unis and forced to go overseas.

There is this assumption that foreign students are a must and a good influence in the unis. Can't disagree with that. But while catering to them, don't neglect our very own.

Singaporeans first.