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Today, a university degree carries a large wage premium. In Singapore, the median salary of a university graduate is 62 percent higher than those with diploma or A-level qualifications. Those with a degree in hand earn a substantial median salary of $4,200 while those with polytechnic diplomas or A-level qualifications earn $2,600.

Many individuals who obtain a degree acquire both economic and social benefits. Technological advancements, digitalisation, and related developments in the economy and labour markets have increased the demand for high-skilled workers and professionals. Higher education plays a key role in a country’s human capital and societal development. Academic qualifications are valued because they are perceived to signal the skills and contributions required by labour markets and broader society.

However, having higher education qualifications is not a guarantee of success or careers in desired fields. There are signs of skill mismatch in the job market with instances of graduates being over-educated and over-skilled for the jobs they eventually take on. Some employers have started to distrust university qualifications due to changing skill demand accelerated by automation, digitisation, and artificial intelligence while the information and communication technology sector has developed its own alternative credentialing system. It also seems that thriving in the new economy or finding success may not be entirely dependent on a university qualifications with more jobs opening up to those without a bachelor’s degree.