Graduates from autonomous universities in Singapore earn 28 percent higher starting wages compared to their peers from private education institutions (PEIs), according to a study published in the Economic Survey of Singapore 2017 yesterday, Feb 14.
This result takes into account differences in academic abilities, demographic and socio-economic characteristics.
Comparing across courses of study, the largest wage gap is seen among Humanities graduates at 39 percent.
The four autonomous universities covered in the study were the Nanyang Technological University, National University of Singapore, Singapore Institute of Technology, and Singapore Management University.
The survey sampled around 11,000 PEI degree graduates and 12,000 AU graduates from the 2014 graduating cohort. Nearly all the AU graduates were full-time students, while 42 per cent of the PEI degree graduates studied part-time.
Full-time AU graduates generally took a longer period of time to complete their studies compared to full-time and part-time PEI degree graduates. The course duration for full-time AU graduates was generally four years, whereas most PEI degree graduates took three years or less to graduate.
The most popular course among the PEI degree graduates was Business. This reflects a high level of demand from students who wished to obtain a business degree, as well as the multitude of business degree courses offered by PEIs with overseas university partners.
The study recognises that as it only examines starting wages, an open question is whether the AU wage premium persists over a longer horizon.
The economists advised that any decision to pursue a degree from either a PEI or AU would need to take into account other factors. These include the amount of course fees to be paid, the opportunity cost in terms of the earnings foregone during studies, as well as any non-monetary benefits of education.
“Each prospective student will thus need to weigh the benefits and costs carefully in order to make a more informed decision regarding his or her own educational investments,” the study said.