9/25/2015

Why build universities?

Yes, why would govt and people build universities? To ask this question here is already a sign of strong misgivings and a sense of despair. It is so pathetic to have to ask such a question, but it must be asked. Would anyone expect me to list down the reasons here why govt and people built universities? Anyone who can read and understand this question would be most able to provide himself all the answers to it. The reasons for building a university are so fundamental and so basic that there should not be any need to raise it again. The very fact that it has to be raised is proof that something is seriously wrong with the universities and the important role and purpose for their existence.

If anyone still demands an answer, pay a visit to the Chinese High School in Bukit Timah. Read the carvings inscribed in stones at the entrance of the main building. Yes, they were set in stones like the Ten Commandments as if the pioneers knew that people down the ages would forget the purpose of building the school. The very reasons for building the Chinese High School are the same reasons why universities were built.

In 1958, hundreds of thousands of people marched to Jurong to witness the opening of Nantah, 南洋大学. Millionaires like Tan Lark Sye, 陈六使, donated $5m to build the university. This princely sum could be the equivalent of $5b today in purchasing power. The Chinese community, from the rich towkays to the dance hostesses and rickshaw pullers also answered the call for donation for the university. Why would every one of them think it important enough to want to contribute to this cause, to build a university?

The reasons for building Nantah were not different from the reasons to build the University of Singapore and the renamed Nanyang Technological University. There are now many new universities, many built for commercial reasons and did not share the common altruistic goals of Nantah and the University of Singapore, now NTU and NUS. The commercial universities can be excused for doing things differently as their purposes are slightly different with money making a key objective. The purpose of building universities like NUS and NTU may have changed to some degrees, but the fundamental and basic reasons for their reasons must not changed.

Have they changed? Some may be thinking that the universities existence is to be ranked highly by farcical ranking organizations and to gain frivolous honours for being ranked among the best. Is this the reason for the building of universities?

Again I would ask, what is the purpose of building universities? Have our universities lost their direction and purpose of existence? Universities are not like F1 or Garden by the Bay, some feel good stuff for the rich to have a little fun and fake importance. They have very important roles to play in the lives of the people and the well being of the country.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

No lah, the reasons for building universities like NUS and NTU have not changed.

What has changed is the type and proportion of students in the universities. And what has this got to do with the reason?

Perhaps Sinkie graduates may lose out to foreigners in getting jobs, or being replaced by foreigners in their jobs. But this is after they had left (graduated) the universities already, tio bo? So how can you expect the university to also control their graduates destiny after they had already left? And also what has this got to do with the reason for building universities?

Anonymous said...

The chief function of all universities is to educate. I think Singapore universities do that quite efficiently. RB says that the purpose for building universities has changed. To a certain extent it has. To attract more students from overseas to enhance the reputation of the university is understandable. Therefore ranking is important. With high ranking more student will enrol and hence more money for the running of the university and higher rewards for all who work at the university from professors, lecturers and administration staff. I see nothing wrong in that.

Another by-product for this Singapore system is, in attraction oversea students here, they might decide to stay on in Singapore after graduation, thus increasing the working population of this country.

Universities have become businesses. Like it or not, this is the same everywhere. Redbean looks at thing in his very simplistic, shallow and mostly on a one-track mind way of thinking.

Anonymous said...

Redbean looks at thing in his very simplistic, shallow and mostly on a one-track mind way of thinking.
Anon 9:56 a.m.

To some extent also true lah. But then hor, it is also not easy to post complex, deep and multi-track mind way of thinking everyday what. Everyday, u know? Can u Anon do cheem (deep) postings on your blog everyday?

Anonymous said...

Redbean looks at thing in his very simplistic, shallow and mostly on a one-track mind way of thinking.
Anon 9:56 a.m.

Is RB simplistic or anon 9:56?

ℳatilah_$ingapura said...

Disruptive technologies == game changers.

Eventually brick and mortar universities will be closing down or downsizing as online training improves.

I like disruptive technology. It keep the game interesting.

b said...

The elites built them to make themselves feel smarter and more upper class than the peasants. They are deep down inferior because they need those concrete blocks to face the world while the peasants can face the world using their hardworking hands.

Anonymous said...

To be educated to get a job is quite different from to study to be enlightened.
To set up university to educate is also different to set up schools, from kindergartento tertiary institution to make money. In this sense; Redbean is a far more enlightened person.

Anonymous said...

Similarly, to be leaders to bring about peace, prosperity and happiness is the nobility of mankinds.

To be in politic for the power, money and glory invariably leads to tyranny and nepotism. And whence nepotism is spread beyond the immediate kins and clans, it builds up cronyism.
Sinkies need not have to look beyond Sin to know what dictatorship
and tyranny is all about.

Anonymous said...

Sinkies need not have to look beyond Sin to know what dictatorship
and tyranny is all about.

September 25, 2015 6:52 p.m.

Where got in Singapore?????