The private education landscape is diverse, and there is varying quality among private education courses and providers. One of the aims of the Council for Private Education (CPE)’s regulatory framework is to protect the interests of students, by ensuring minimum standards in corporate and academic governance, strengthening student fee protection measures, and requiring PEIs to disclose key information on courses and teachers, so that students can make more informed choices. However, registration by CPE is not an endorsement or accreditation of the academic quality of programmes offered by private education institutions (PEIs). Hence, there is no guarantee that degrees from PEIs are of the same quality as the degrees offered by our local, publicly-funded universities.

Given the diversity of qualifications and experiences of students, the range of programmes that are offered by PEIs and the diverse requirements of employers, it is difficult to have a central authority that assesses or accords recognition to degrees for employment purposes. For external degree programmes (EDPs), CPE’s role is to safeguard the interests of students and the public by ensuring that EDPs meet certain minimum threshold standards, as regulations for degree-awarding institutions differ from country to country. Some factors which CPE considers include the accreditation status of the awarding institution, the track record of the awarding institution, and whether the EDPs offered are subject to the same academic assurance processes as the programmes offered in the home campuses.

As we move towards a society that places stronger emphasis on the mastery of skills, PEIs should ensure that students attain skills that are valuable to industry, and that will enable them to advance in their careers based on their skills. This may require a re-orientation for some segments of the PEI sector, to ensure that programmes offered are industry-relevant, beneficial to students, and help graduates achieve good employment outcomes.

Individuals on their part need to exercise care, and acquire all the necessary information before making decisions about their education pathways. Otherwise, the time, effort, and money invested may not produce the expected returns.