Recently, I was asked a question, on the “recognition” of a foreign degree education program, administered through a private educational institution (PEI). It really surprised me that this problem exist in Singapore that people are spending their hard-earned money on a foreign degree program that may NOT be recognised.
1) Private Educational Institutes (PEI)
This problem has many layers, and we will peel them layer by layer. The first layer, is probably the easiest to peel and answer – The PEI itself. This is the easiest, simply because all you have to do is to check if the PEI is registered with the Committee for Private Education (CPE). There is so MUCH information on this, it is not even funny. All you need is to “google” them and I strongly encourage you to do so.
Basically if the PEI registered, you can have “some” assurance, that they will NOT be offering some “paper-mill degree”. There are many other considerations, and being registered does not mean, that the PEI will NOT cheat you, but you can be sure it has met some basic standards of “governance”.
So we will move past this point, especially since it does NOT answer the main question.
2) Recognised versus Accredited Degrees
The next layer is on its recognition, but first we need to make a clarification and differentiate between an Accredited and Recognised degree.
2a) Accredited Degrees – refer to degrees that are recognised by the professional body of that specific profession. For example, if you want to be an engineer, your degree MUST be recognised the Professional Engineers Board (Singapore) for engineers. If you want to be a physician (in Singapore, there are strangely called doctors), your degree must be recognised by the Singapore Medical Council. These degrees are usually “professional” degrees that has to maintain standards. Other “professional”, include: Architect, Dentist, Physiotherapy, Allied Health, Accountant etc.
So if you are planning to study a degree that requires accreditation, your quest for the answer stop her. Go to the relevant Singapore professional body, check with courses are accredited and then go for it. This is important, because Singapore professional bodies do have a list of which degrees are recognised.
It does not matter even if the degree is accredited by that country professional body, even respectable ones (e.g. U.K.), IF the Singapore professional body do NOT recognise that degree, you cannot practice (your profession/degree) in Singapore. For example, there are numerous medical degrees from U.K. and Malaysia that are not recognised by the SMC.
Why this is the case? They will probably elaborate on their own website, but I do have my own theories on it for SOME of the bodies (message me privately if you want to know more).
2b) Recognised Degree – refers to everything else and the main topic of this post. However take note, is almost all ( I said almost), accredited are likely to be recognised degrees also.
3) Degree Recognition
This next layer is NOT so easy to answer or “googled” definitively. The main reason for this is because, there is NO official board/body in Singapore to recognise foreign degrees, and I do not think we will have one anytime soon.
So since there is no body to officiate or recognise the foreign degree. “Who Does?”. I guess the shortest and best answer is the Industry or your prospective employer. If they recognise your degree, and they will be your paymaster, then that it is all that matters. But this answer will valid is somewhat lacking.
The next best answer, I guess lies in the largest employer in Singapore. The Singapore Civil Service or specifically the Public Service Commission (PSC). Most of the industry will look to the PSC for guidelines on this. If the PSC recognises your degree, chances are it will be recognise in Singapore.
So what are the requirements for the degree to be recognised by the PSC? Sadly the PSC does not maintain a list of recognised universities and leave it to the individual organisation (ministries/statutory board/government body) to decide. And to be fair, there are too many degrees in the world to create a list. Therefore it is simply not feasible. Again unfortunately this does not answer our question (again).
So below are some guidelines, which I suggest you can use to see if it likely to be recognised by the PSC. I repeat, these are my PERSONAL guidelines, and there is no guarantee that it will be recognised by the PSC.
These are the guidelines or questions you MUST ask when assessing the degree.
i) Is the university recognised by the government from where that university is from.
Typically this is the department or ministry of education. For example, in Singapore, all local universities must be recognised by the Ministry of Education (MOE).
I will elaborate a bit on U.S. universities, due to the unique setup which makes it more difficult to navigate and determine which is universities are recognised. Unfortunately, I have seen a lot of Singaporean with all sort of degrees and doctorates (sadly a lot of them bogus) from US universities.
Basically the U.S. Department of Education (their MOE) and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) does not accredited or recognised individual universities or organisation. What they do is they provide guidelines and “recognise” bodies to do that job for them.
A portion of these bodies are known as Regional Accreditation bodies and they are 6 of them for example, the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) for universities located in the north-west portion of the U.S. such as Alaska, Oregon, Washington (the state not the capital) etc. Or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACC) for universities in the (you guessed it), southern states such as Alabama, Texas and Virginia.
And typically, the accreditations standards of these 6 bodies exceed or are more rigorous than the guidelines set by the CHEA and U.S. DOE. So when you are looking at a U.S., universities, do check that they are accredited by the respective regional bodies. I personally feel this SHOULD be the standard for Singaporean looking to answer this question – Is the university recognised by the government?
Now some U.S universities may state that they are not regionally accredited but are instead accredited by one of the 10 national accreditating bodies that is recognised by the US DOE. Now, I cannot comment on these as I have not done an intensive reading or research on them and they are probably one or two educational institutions that are good but due to the nature of their institute may not qualify (different post for another day).
But what I can summarise is, if the degree or university is “good enough”, it is likely to also be accredited by the regional bodies. Therefore stick to the 6 bodies.
ii) Is the degree recognised by the government from where the university is from? In most cases, if the university is recognised, it is likely that the degree is recognised (however there have been cases where this is not the case).
iii) Accreditated – We already discussed this above.
iv) Sanctions – Rarely a concern in Singapore (for now). Is there a sanction against the country or the particular university? If there is, then it will not be recognised.
Therefore to answer the question: Is the foreign degree recognised in Singapore?
Step 1) Is it a professional degree? Does it need to be accreditated by a relevant Singapore professional body?
NO – Go to question 2
YES – There is a list – go to the relevant Singapore body and check.
Step 2) Is the foreign degree from a university that is recognised by their own government?
NO – Then STOP, do not go further, do not PASS GO, do NOT collect $200.
YES – Go to Question 3
Step 3) Is the foreign degree recognised by their own government?
NO – Then STOP, do not go further.
YES – Congratulations: – Your degree is likely to be recognised in Singapore.
Hope this answers the question most people have on this topic. I might have a separate blog post on degrees from U.S. Institutions because I have seen too many Singaporeans with Drs and Professor (degrees) – really, professor degree? how is that even possible?
I will also have another blog post in future about selecting universities for post-graduate study.
Smart-mamat the Poly-Mat(h)
The Eternal Student
I recently had to take the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The IELTS is a standardised test of proficiency in the English language for non-native English language speakers. I have never had to prove my proficiency in the English language before, even when I enrolled for all my previous courses, (e.g. bachelor’s, masters degree). I mean, I was a Literature student (English Language) and did well for it. Even when I applied for a VISA to commence my PhD, I did not have to take the IELTS. Therefore, in summary, it was the first time I had to take a proficiency test for the “English” and I did not know what to expect.
So I asked around and asked my fellow Singaporean friends and that the IELTS test is a “joke” and “complete waste of time and a money-making scam” – their words not mine. I was a bit taken aback at first but, decided to take those comments with a bucket of salt, I am after a “Mat” (though my time teaching in Australia – especially sentence structure and grammar to undergraduates has been an eye-opener.)
2) The test itself – IELTS – Academic vs General Training
So in the month of July of 2019, I finally registered and took the test. First, they are two options, you can either take the 1) Academic or 2) General Training option. From what I hear the academic is the “tougher between the two”. This perception is understandable, especially with the choice of word “Academic” considering, the masses negative perception against the “academic” institution, especially in recent years. But from what I can understand from my research, this belief is false. The only difference between the two is the “content” or the subject matter being used in the tests. Academic would have the more academic type of passages/context, while General Training would be as the name suggest, generic. Therefore, in my opinion, you would only take Academic if your course request for it. A good analogy is a driving licence, Manual versus Automatic. Both types allow you to drive on the road as they required similar requirement and knowledge especially considering that most cars are automatic these days. However, they are some situations where a Manual licence is required. Therefore, a manual licence is “superior” simply because it is acceptable for ALL situations, while the Automatic is for most. However I have ONLY taken the Academic, so I cannot compare it to the General Training.
The next option is whether you choose to take a computer-based test or paper-based. I am not sure why anyone would take paper-based (if they don’t have to, for whatever reason).
3) Test Components
So when I decided to take the test, I decided to at least be familiarised with the format of the test, so that I will not be taken off-guard. The test consists of four components: 1) Listening, 2) Reading, 3) Writing and 4) Speaking. You will take it in two sessions, the listening, reading and writing will be at one sitting and the speaking in the second.
However other than familiarising with the format, I did no other preparation, not because I was arrogant and think I was God’s gift to mankind. But simply because 1) I booked to take the test in 4 days, 2) I was busy with another project.
4) Taking the test – Before
The test centre that I took it with, was a professional test centre, so they took it very seriously, they took my fingerprints etc and made sure I carried nothing into the exam centre, and I mean NOTHING, even a pen, which I sort of forgot about it.
Next, was the preparation or “in-processing” process. It was a very long and tedious preparation process. No, not tedious, it was mind-numbing as there was NOTHING to do or read while waiting. You had to wait in a room with other test-takers and the atmosphere was very tensed. Then you had to wait as the examiner will take you in one by one to your seat. Once all test-takers have sat down, you will wait and listen to a very long brief.
Basically, in summary, the whole process is designed in such a way to intentionally NUMB your brain and make you sleepy.
5) Taking the test – During Session 1 (Listening/Reading/Writing)
Session 1 started with the Listening section (30 minutes – I think), You have to listen to four conversations and answer about 15 questions for each passage. Most are simply filling in the blank or multiple-choice. The trick is to quickly answer the question, the moment you head the answer. The questions are asked in the exact same order as where you will hear it in the conversation. I did it and completed all questions with about 14 minutes left on the clock. Would have been faster, if I was allowed to quickly move on to the next conversation, there is a 1 minute (I think) pause in between each conversation.
However, you are not allowed to start the next section until the 30 minutes is up. So I had to wait and STARE at the ceiling for 14 minutes.
Next was the reading section, which is basically a reading comprehension test, they give you 3 passages (I think!!!) to read and then you answer about 45 to 60 question on them (I am unable to recall the exact number). All I remembered was that I finished it with 42 minutes left. And I can assure you it was the MOST painful 42 minutes that I can recall.
Finally, the writing section (60 minutes), this consist of two questions. The first is a graph, and you have to describe it with at least 150 words and the second is a generic question, where you are expected to answer it with at least 250 words. Among all the sections, this is the section that I was most surprised with or rather, found it the most difficult, relatively.
I actually took the entire 59 minutes to answer this. This was because I was puzzled by the graph, it was probably created by a primary school student and does not make sense. But I knew that this test was simply too see if I can use “English” words to describe the graph. So after describing the graph in about 180 words. I went on a rampage, pointing out all the errors and criticising the graph in about 320 words. For the next question, it was on a generic question, something about how important is it to think about the future.
Then after the whole three sections are done, session one is finally complete. Unfortunately, I book the test quite late, so the Speaking section (Session 2) was almost 2 hours later.
6) Taking the test – During Session 2 (Speaking)
Taking Session 2, I had to do the whole in processing again, including fingerprint check etc. Then you wait and wait. When they finally call you up, you will be in a room with an examiner and they will do another identification confirmation and then record and start the test. I think there were four sections to the do speaking test.
The first is where you basically introduce yourself, second is where they talk on a topic, mine was on emails. I remember arguing against the examiner, saying that I think emails should be answered as soon as possible (within reason), because, in this modern-day and age, it is the new short messaging service (SMS), in fact, it is a far superior SMS service because you can go beyond 160 characters and attach objects.
The third and possibly fourth is when the examiner will give me a topic, where I selected I was given a topic on health. I suspect this is probably because I responded to her greeting “How are you?”, with an “I am healthy and good. Hope you are healthy also”. To which she was visible taken a bit/amused and say “she it”. To which I responded “Health is Wealth”. During the conversation, I took the “opposite” stance of whatever she suggested. Overall, I think, I carried the conversation well, but I did think I can be much more concise. I was told it would take about 20 minutes, but I am very sure, it took less than 15 minutes in my case.
They mentioned that the results are available online between 5 to 7 days (did not specify business day or not). So since I took it on Saturday, I should receive it by Wednesday, and I did receive an SMS (I opted to receive SMS) on Wednesday telling me my score, and an email telling me that the results will be available online on Thursday. So I suggest click opt-in to the SMS.
So according to the SMS (the only results I have at this point of time writing the blog is)
In summary, while I can see “SOME” justification for it, I honestly do not believe IELTS is a good test. Basically, it is like the IPPT or NAPFA test, just an average indicator of your “physicality” as a soldier but nothing to do whether you are really a good soldier.
Oh well –
Smart-mamat the Poly-Mat(h)
The Eternal Student
An interesting post that clearly highlights how outdated HR are.
Just finished attended a workshop on Tensiomyography (TMG). Basically TMG is a new method of measuring the muscle characteristics based on the muscle contraction from an electrical stimulus.
It has 2 components. A TMG sensor and an electrical stimulator (surface). The stimulator stimulates the muscle cause a muscle contraction. The TMG sensor then measures t displacement (Td) of the muscle belly. And from there it can derive other variables such as contraction velocity etc. It claims it can measure muscles stiffness.
So the first thing that I asked was how do you define and measure muscles stiffness. Because I do not see any way they could measure force, therefore not sure how they would calculate Young’s modulus.
I suspect it is simply a difference of terminology.
Nevertheless I think it has potential in terms of measuring relative stiffness, contraction velocity etc. Because I think the reaction to the stimulus and the relationship is reliable. Just that you might not be able to determine absolute values (other than contaction velocity maybe).
Other than, had a discussion on a potential study with an overseas researcher. Also helped out with completing research ethics for that study. Not able to speak much on it for now as it is till under wraps. But will update as necessary along the way.
The Eternal Student
In my 3++ years here down-under and tutoring in ECU, I have never helped invigilate/proctor an examination before. But here I am in a room with a student, helping to invigilate/proctor an exam for him. So while I am keeping one eye on him (there is only one student – so one eye), my thoughts (mentally) went to this post.
Being a research student, there are no exams. Zero, zilch, nada.
For the whole PhD (at least here in Australia and in ECU), there are 2 events or milestones for a higher degree research student (HDR) that can be considered the closest to being an exam. The first is the proposal of your thesis topic which is vital to be formally recognised as PhD Candidate (prior to it, you are known generally as a post-graduate student or just PhD student). The second is the dissertation itself, where upon passing this “exam”, you will then be considered as completing the doctoral studies.
Although beginning this year, from what I have heard and read, newly enrolled PhD students in ECU will have to also complete an oral defence (similiar to the proposal), but I am not sure the weightage of this defence to the whole PhD. Previous candidates like myself have the option to volunteer for the oral viva, if not we will be examined as before. Wonder if I should opt to do oral defence.
What do you think? Should I? or should I NOT?
The Eternal Student – “Always Learning, Always Growing”
Just realised I did not have a post for Evernote vs OneNote (2017).
Oh well. Let us just get to it.
I no longer am an Evernote Premium subscriber, as I am basically no longer willing to pay (afford) for it due to my status as a full-time student. So Evernote has been relegated to a simple archiving or read-later solution.
Due to this, I was forced to used OneNote. What was surprising is that the more I use OneNote, the more I fell in love with it. As of now, I am using OneNote for all of my PhD work. The way I am using OneNote right now, it has pretty much replaced Microsoft Word and Mendeley. I only use these 2 when I need to submit my work to my Supervisors to edit etc.
Previously I used to start drafting and writing in Word and save all references in Mendeley (including writing notes etc). But for now, I store all my references and a page in OneNote. I insert the PDF in the page, which allows me to read it from my phone or anywhere and write my notes and thoughts all in that page.
And when I start drafting, I create another page on OneNote and starts to brainstorm and input all my ideas and thoughts. And because my references and PDF are all in the same Notebook, I can easily copy and paste my thoughts, analysis of the paper etc.
Another advantage of drafting using one note is that you can insert each paragraph as a textbox, thus when you want to rearrange paragraphs etc, or make whatever edits it is far easier than in words.
So as now 5th of April 2018. OneNote is the winner for me. Evernote sadly has been relegated to a simple archiving software.
The Eternal Student – “Always Learning, Always Growing”
1) Data Collection
Whewww…. I am on my last round of subjects. Trying to finish up all the test for these few subjects. Will not be recruiting any more. So that is sort of good news.
Now comes the real work. Processing the data. So far, thanks to my new found skills in programming, I can easily process the EMG and vGRF data. With my aging laptop (Surface Pro 2), it takes me about 11 to 15 seconds to process one jump (assuming the jump has been properly processed and cleaned). The 3D motion on the other hand is another story. That will take me about 1.5 to 2 hour per jump per person. Hmmmmm….. Long Road ahead I guess.
2) Paper 1
Due to the nature of my massive data collection phase (1 year and a half), I was not able to publish anything earlier. The norm for most PhDs are 3 to 5 studies (and corresponding data collection), they should be able to publish after each study throughout the PhD. Unfortunately I was unable to do so, so that is a slight disadvantage for me. But with it comes the huge advantage (in my opinion), with having all data collection done (and dusted) and I just need to process and start publishing. Thus currently in the process of writing up the first paper. Just need to decide the extent of the first paper. Quite excited.
I know, I am quite vague on a lot of things, but I am a believer of actions speaks louder than words. So hopefully the papers that we put out will be the proof.
The Eternal Student – “Always Learning, Always Growing”
And update on my PhD journey.
This past week. I have started my test for subject 020. Finally after such a long data collection period I am able to reach the big “20 series”. Still a long way to go though. I am thankful that it has been smooth so far and most importantly the data quality has been good so far. I think i finally reach a higher level of proficiency and efficiency.
Must thank my 2 interns who have been assisting me so far. 1) Ms Jessica Connaughton and 2) Mr Corbin Lam. Both who have been most helpful. This is my third round of interns attached to me and I have been lucky that I have had excellent “intern/students” attached to me.
What’s great is that they actually provide feedback and told me that helping me with my project allows them to actually made sense of what they learned in SPS2116: Applied Biomechanics. Prior to this all the “information” that they learned was just that. “Information”. I guess nothing beats seeing it all inaction.
That is a good feedback. Having tutored in the module for 2 years. I do sometimes wonder whether the students actually get to “fully digest” the information. I am sure some will. Some will just remember the facts to pass and some will only digest it much later when they see it in action.
Until the next post
Keep on Learning and Growing
The Eternal Student.