Public Service scholarships awarded for engineering courses
Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on Public Service scholarships awarded for engineering courses
Parliamentary Sitting: 8 October 2014
Er Dr Lee Bee Wah: To ask the Prime Minister given that since 2006 no President Scholar has applied to major in engineering (a) whether this trend is of concern to the Government; (b) what are the reasons for the apparent lack of interest among top scholars to study engineering; (c) whether there will be any action taken to rectify this situation; and (d) whether this trend will result in a shortage of engineers.
Written Reply by Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security, Minister in charge of the Civil Service and Minister for Home Affairs:
The Public Service Commission (PSC) awards scholarships based on merit. Candidates are assessed holistically for their suitability for a Public Service career based on qualities which include character, integrity and commitment to serve Singaporeans. All deserving candidates, regardless of their background and academic interest, will be offered a scholarship. The PSC looks for scholarship holders who are trained in a range of disciplines as the diversity is useful for the Public Service. There are no quotas for the scholarships or sub quotas for the different courses. The same principles apply for President’s Scholarships which are awarded to a small number of the most promising and outstanding scholarship holders each year.
As the number of President’s Scholarships each year is small, it would be more representative to look at the courses pursued by Government scholarship holders as a whole. Between 2009 and 2013, the Public Service awarded more than 400 scholarships for Engineering courses alone and more than 1,200 scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) – which is about four in ten of all Public Service scholarships awarded. Many of these scholarship holders have been matched with agencies such as the Land Transport Authority, the Housing & Development Board, and the Defence Science & Technology Agency amongst others, for meaningful careers linked to their fields of study. Among the 80-90 PSC scholarship recipients each year, one quarter pursued STEM courses in 2013 and one fifth did so in 2014.
Beyond scholarships, the Public Service as a whole continues to recruit able officers trained in a variety of fields to serve in the different sectors. Specifically for Engineering, we have a concerted effort to actively identify and strengthen our engineering capabilities in strategic areas. We will also be developing career paths to attract and retain good Engineers.
The Government has continued to promote Engineering education through various programmes and outreach strategies to ignite students’ interest to pursue STEM-related courses and a career in the STEM-related industries subsequently. The plan to build a new Science Centre in Jurong is part of this strategy to enthuse students about science and technology. In 2013, 8,500 students entered STEM-related degree courses, including 5,700 students who entered courses in Engineering Sciences and Information Technology. This number is expected to increase as the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) continue to increase their intake. MOE has been working closely with MOM to ensure a steady flow of graduates from our universities to meet the industry demand.