Puzzling figures on university admissions
Seems it was reported in ST recently that there were some 74,000 applications from junior colleges and polytechnic graduates for only 12,800 vacancies among all our three universities (I'm still waiting for a friend to help me track down the original report, but I'm assuming that the figures are as reported; update: got it).
The 12,800 (expected) intake figure rings true, considering the rate of increase over the past years (source).
But 74,000 applications?
The number of students graduating each year with 2 'A' and 2 'AO' passes (including GP) has been hovering around the 10,000 mark between 1991 and 2004 (source). Since Pre-U enrollment for the same period has been fairly consistent (source), we can expect that for 2005, there can't be that many more than 10,000+ graduating with the same qualifications.
The number of students graduating from the Polys in the same time period has been steadily increasing from 6,000+ to 16,000+ (source). Assuming that it's increasing at the same rate, there should be about 18,000+ Poly grads for 2005.
But once you add the two numbers together, you get about a total of 28,000 JC/Poly grads for 2005. This is the total local pool ("from junior colleges and polytechnic graduates ") of local applicants to the local universities. And since there is a well-known cap on the intake of Poly graduates, we should expect the actual pool to be considerably smaller. Let's say that all of the JC graduates (with 2 'A's and 2 'AO's) and 15% of the Poly graduates applied to the local universities this year. That gives about 14,200--let's round that to 15,000--applicants.
Where did the 74,000 applications from "junior colleges and polytechnic graduates" come from? --How many students are applying to more than one university?
more: Found an earlier news report (.pdf from SMU's site) from 2004. That year, NUS received 13,600 applications for about 6,000 places, NTU received 12,000 applications for 4,500 places and SMU received 7,000 applications for 850 places. (That will be 32,600 applications for 11,350 places--from probably plus minus 13,000 applicants.) The report also mentioned that the usual practice has been for students to send in one application to NUS/NTU's joint admission. 2004 was the first year students could apply separately to the two. But it turned out that many applied to both NUS and NTU anyway, and quite a few to all three. add: Looks like in the case of SMU, there were 10,600 applications for 1,260 places.
more: The ratio of number of local applications vs. number of places in the local universities is not a terribly instructive piece of information. What we need is historical data concerning the ratio between number of local applicants vs. number of places in the local universities. I believe that this is the only meaningful way to assess whether it has become harder for a local JC/Poly graduate to get a place in the local universities, and in particular, whether his or her position has been made worse by the influx of international students. And the short answer (I've blogged the long answer months ago; see links at top of this post) is: as far as getting a place in a local university is concerned, the position of the local JC/Poly graduate has been improving for the last 20 years, an improvement that has not been impacted--except in terms of largely unfounded emotional reaction about foreigners taking the locals' place--in any adverse way by the increasing international enrollment in NUS/NTU/SMU. This is not to say that the position of the local JC/Poly graduate cannot be made even better than it already is, but wanting another scoop of icecream is not the same as complaining that one has received one scoop less than those who came before.
maybe more later... (busy editing the dissertation, and selling stuff in preparation for the big move)