Limited choices with biotechnology diploma

November 19, 2007 at 2:34 pm 1 comment

Straits Times Forum
Nov 19, 2007

Limited choices with biotechnology diploma

I REFER to the article, ‘2 top cancer research groups to set up shop here’ (ST, Nov 5). It stated that the arrival of two prominent research institutes was a ‘strong validation of Singapore’s importance as a research node’.
While the presence of these two new research institutes here further cements our role as a regional hub, we should not neglect the local population.

This year, the biomedical research industry in Singapore came under fire because a large amount of money was invested in this area with little returns in terms of conclusive data.

Relate this to the fact that most research scientists here are expatriates on expatriate pay.

Wouldn’t it be more cost- effective to hire local graduates who can do these jobs?

I am aware that one of the most prominent research institutes here does not offer scholarships to polytechnic graduates for further studies and I believe this discounts the fact that there are keen minds in polytechnics today.

I studied biotechnology at diploma level, under the impression that I would have good prospects in terms of future studies and career advancement.

However, the fact is that only the top 10 per cent of polytechnic graduates are accepted by local universities. This leaves the remaining 90 per cent of life sciences students with limited choices.

These choices include going overseas to pursue a degree in biomedical science (which not everyone can afford), or jumping ship and pursuing a degree that has nothing to do with life sciences. I have, unfortunately, opted for the latter.

Also, I would like to point out that most polytechnic students have at least four months of industrial experience, due to student internship programmes that are a prerequisite of most diploma courses.

In fact, one of my former polytechnic classmates, who is currently studying in a local university, often has to guide his classmates, who graduated from junior college, in the correct use of laboratory equipment as well as safety protocol.

Furthermore, I have noted that even with a good degree, job openings in biomedical research institutes are hard to come by.

That said, one question I feel should be addressed is this: Why groom us when there is little intention of hiring us?

Denise Mohan (Ms)


Entry filed under: college, education, job, Singapore.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Edmund Lim  |  November 25, 2007 at 3:20 am

    a) Institutions always market themselves with employment success to show that their alumni achieve great prospects after graduation. But since when do our schools owe it to us to get us employed? It is not their responsibility or duty. They don’t owe you a living.

    b) It is not the institution’s fault that few graduates pursue a career related to their field of study. This happens everywhere, engine people also do other non-engine related jobs and this is especially so in general degree programmes like Life Sciences.

    c) You sound as if you only know how to pursue a career in the industry you have been groomed for.

    d) Everybody, except you and you only, knows that to be employed in the Life Sciences industry, you need research experience and further education in a specialised field.

    e) You seem to think that a BSc is worth a lot and everyone owes you a living. Not every Life Science graduate is capable of doing research.

    f) You seem unable to accept that Life Science is not a professional degree!


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