An SIM University (UniSIM) survey has found that acquiring a degree has definite pay-offs for its graduates in terms of better pay, career advancement and mobility. This is the first comprehensive graduate survey done to assess the impact of Continuing Education and Training (CET) on working adults.
The UniSIM survey, conducted by The Nielsen Company, revealed that half of the graduates experienced a pay raise after graduation, while about 20% moved to a different job within two years upon graduation.
Of those who had a pay raise, the average increase was about 15% while nearly one in five got an increment of more than 30%. Those who had a job change experienced a greater 21% increase. This compares favourably to the national average wage increase of 5.9% in 2007.
Some 1,002 out of 3,061 UniSIM graduates who graduated between 2002 and 2007 responded to the survey, giving a response rate of 33%. The majority of those who responded was in the 30-40 age group and employed in the public sector and multinational corporations (MNCs).
UniSIM is Singapore’s first and only privately-funded university recognised by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to issue its own degrees. UniSIM’s unique mandate by the MOE, since the university’s establishment in 2005, is to provide higher education opportunities to adult learners while the four publicly-funded universities focus on fresh school leavers. Since July 2008, all eligible adult learners at UniSIM enjoy government subsidies of up to 40% for their degree programmes.
Greater Job Mobility
Apart from a better salary, a UniSIM degree gave graduates a boost in their career development and mobility. 50% of those who changed jobs within two years of graduation moved to a different industry. Two in three, or 68%, who changed jobs moved to a different position either within or across industries. Among graduates who remained with the same employer, 51% experienced increased responsibilities or moved to a different position.
Most graduates (87%) believed that their programme was relevant and had helped them in their work to some extent. The survey revealed that the key objectives of the graduates when they took up a degree included upgrading of skills set, pursuit of interest, and enhanced prospects of promotion and better pay. Therefore it came as no surprise that an overwhelming 91% of respondents felt that their UniSIM education had met their objectives to some extent.
UniSIM was the first institution of choice for most respondents (79%) when they were deciding on a part-time degree programme. A large majority of respondents (91%) said they would also recommend UniSIM programmes to their friends. This strongly reaffirms UniSIM’s unique position and mandate as the choice university for adult education.
The survey also found that UniSIM’s adult students are strong believers of lifelong learning and CET. Among those who were currently not pursuing higher education, six in 10 intended to pursue a master or higher qualifications within the next two years.
The President of UniSIM, Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, said, ‘We are heartened that UniSIM programmes have helped our graduates in their careers, fulfilled their aspirations, and hopefully improved their quality of lives. We are also very encouraged by the recognition that the market has given to a young university like UniSIM.’
Most graduates expressed overall satisfaction (76%) with their courses at UniSIM, consistently rating UniSIM as doing well across all areas, on relevance of programmes, quality of learning materials, quality of instructors, conduct of assessment and facilities. Besides their basic education, a good number also felt that UniSIM had given them a broad based education in different fields of knowledge and prepared them fairly well in most aspects of personal development, especially in analytical and logical thinking skills (91%) and problem solving (87%).
On the Right Track
These findings reiterate UniSIM’s emphasis on providing its graduates with a quality, practical and holistic education. To further strengthen the quality of its education, UniSIM has, since January 2007, introduced the University Core (UCore) programme to enhance students’ creativity, critical thinking and IT skills. This and other enhancements in the UniSIM curricula aptly address the observation from the respondents that the programmes they had attended had prepared them well in most aspects of personal development, but less so in the areas of creativity and innovation, information technology and oral communication skills.
Recognising the importance of offering a flexible and innovative learning approach to cater to the demanding schedules of its working adult learners, the university is also continually developing more e-courses. It has also put in place a Learning Management System [MyUniSIM] to enhance its e-learning capabilities.
Growth and Engagement with Growing Alumni
In response to industry needs, UniSIM has been actively working with reputable academic and industry partners to increase the range of courses offered. Some 12 new programmes have been launched in 2008 alone, including a Master of Taxation, Master of Social Work, a Bachelor of Engineering in Aerospace Systems, and Singapore’s very first Bachelor of Arts in Malay Language and Literature.
Professor Cheong added, ‘In moving forward to becoming an institution well-recognised as a university for adult learners, UniSIM will continue to introduce industry-relevant programmes to meet students’ and market needs and widen our offerings of postgraduate programmes. We will also further engage our alumni through activities such as professional courses, industry talks and networking sessions.’
More details on the graduates’ profile can be found at Appendix A.
Target respondents were graduates from UniSIM and Open University of the UK (OUUK) programmes in the last five years from 2002 to 2007. OUUK programmes were jointly offered by UniSIM’s predecessor SIM Open University Centre) and the OUUK. UniSIM was set up in 2005.
|Profiles of Respondents Age (years)||%|
|30 - 39||54|
|40 - 49||29|
|50 and above||9|
|Maritus Status |
|Employment Profile |
|Full-time working adults||92|
|Part-time working adults||2|