SINGAPORE: Having a regulatory body for the private education industry has improved the sector, but more needs to be done to provide better quality programmes to 227,000 private students.
Of these, 56 per cent are local students and 44 per cent are international students.
The private schools were also urged to adopt a more industry-needs approach.
The Council for Private Education (CPE) revealed this on Tuesday at its inaugural conference to share best practices.
The council's second annual report found more private schools met better quality standards last year.
More private schools also achieved higher management and quality standards, by obtaining the EduTrust certification, up from 28 per cent in 2011, to 35 per cent in 2012.
The report also highlighted the need to address the 850 complaints received last year as well as improve on customer satisfaction, which declined 5.5 percentage points from 2011.
Of the 850 complaints, close to 40 per cent involved fees, and another 40 per cent on issues related to administrative support and processes.
Senior Minister of State for Education, Indranee Rajah, issued a challenge to the sector - to focus on students, and evaluate quality based on student outcomes.
She said: "The duty you have to your students must go beyond purely contractual obligations, especially given the significant investment of time and money that many of your students make in pursuing the educational offerings that you provide."
Besides raising quality, experts at the conference said it is just as important for private schools to meet employers' needs.
Christine Sim, director of HR consulting at PrimeStaff, said: “The career landscape has changed a lot, in the sense that employers are looking for those that have perhaps the relevant training, even for an undergrad degree, and also their ability to adapt to a new workplace. I think this is key especially if you're going to a small to medium-sized enterprise, and also in terms of working with large MNCs - are you willing to start at entry-level and work your way up?”
While employers acknowledge that private education graduates are of better quality now, they urged the schools to collaborate with employers for an out-of-classroom experience, such as internships.
Industry players however, told Channel NewsAsia that more support is needed, especially for smaller schools, to be able to meet industry demands.
Going forward, the council said it will also survey the public and stakeholders on the perception of private schools in Singapore, as well as the employability of its graduates.