Making Education Affordable In Singapore Through Government Subsidies
Providing education for your child has become costly. Although schools in Singapore are offering an excellent education, it is quite expensive. Education is becoming expensive because of the rising cost of tuition to independent schools for university education. The government of Singapore, since independence has put a significant amount of resources towards ensuring education is affordable to its citizens. In recent times the government has been investing a lot to ensure education is accessible to poor children. Over the years, subsidies have been enhanced to ensure quality education is affordable to all families.
Recently, Singapore’s Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung indicated that the government was investing more on education subsidies. The government is adding S$44 million on top of the current annual budget of S$123 million to make education affordable. The MOE has come up with new initiatives such as enhancing subsidies for undergraduate and diploma students, lowering tuition fees as well as expanding upgrading opportunities for Institute of Technical Education graduates. The initiatives seek to provide affordable education to Singaporean regardless of their education and financial background.
Enhancing government subsidies
The government of Singapore subsidizes close to 75% of university education. The bursaries will boost low-income students having challenges in paying subsidized fees. For students from low-income households, this means they will be getting more subsidies than the current S$2000 per year. To support the middle and lower-income households, the bursaries will be available for undergraduate and diploma students from the academic year 2020. The changes cater to all students under the subsidized full-time diploma and undergraduate courses.
Undergraduate students will benefit from a raised bursary quanta up to S$2,200. Another important change is to encourage students from low-income households to take dentistry and medicine degree courses as medical studies have significantly been subsidized. The students qualifying for the highest bursary tier will benefit from subsidized tuition fee up to 75% by the bursary. They will be paying S$2,000 only per year instead of the normal S$4,200. The MOE indicates that out of the 55,000 beneficiaries of the subsidies over 30,000 will be from low-income households whose gross income is below S$4,000.
The cost of polytechnic education in Singapore is 85% subsidized, and bursaries are for cushioning students from low-income families. The government plans to revise the bursary quanta upwards to S$400. With this enhancement, diploma students eligible for the highest bursary tier will receive a 95% subsidy for their tuition. Instead of S$550, they will be paying S$150 as from next year.
The MOE plans to introduce higher provisions form students from low and middle-income students to pursue medicine and dentistry. These courses are expensive because of the higher tuition fees of the programs. Universities also offer financial aid to Dentistry and Medicine students. That, coupled with the government subsidy, means students on the higher bursa tier will be paying only S$5,000 per year in tuition fees. The rest of the amount further derived from Post-Secondary Education Account and loans to make higher education affordable to everyone.
Lowering tuition fees for SUSS and SIT students
Another initiative that will see students afford an education is the move to lower tuition fees for SUSS and SIT undergraduates. Students enrolled in full-time general courses at Singapore’s two applied universities SUSS and SIT will benefit from reduction of tuition fees from S$7,900 and S$8,200 respectively to S$7500 per year in the academic year 2020. The initiative will benefit around 80% of students in SUSS and 20% full-time undergraduates in SIT next year.
The lowering of tuition fees applies for both existing and new students undertaking general courses at SUSS and SIT. Costs are still high for undergraduate SIT students because of the many programs offered with overseas university partners. With growing student intake, the institutions have been able to lower operating costs, thus lowering tuition fees.
Enhancing training through the upgrading of skills
Education is a significant driver of economic competitiveness, and in Singapore, people are great resources. The government has plans for increasing the higher education participation rate in the next couple of years. The educational workforce will significantly improve with time, with 50% expected to have diplomas by 2020, while 35% will have degrees. The MOE indicated that ITE graduates would continue receiving support to upgrade their skills. The ministry stated that over the years, there had been an expansion of pathways for ITE students to enhance their skills.
Currently, around 70% of ITE Nitec graduates are upgrading their skills through different publicly-funded pathways that which include part-time and full-time diploma and higher Nitec pathways. There is the enhancement of skills through work-study programs such as the ITE SkillsFuture Work-Study Diplomas. The MOW plans to increase the number placements in the ITE’s SkillsFuture work-study diploma as well as full-time Higher Nitec Programs.
The introduction of the programs was for those who will prefer training through integrated experience. Recently polytechnics facilitated admission of working adults into full-time programs. This was through recognition of their competencies gained through on-work training as well as academic grades.
The MOE expects to offer more opportunities by 2030 for ITE graduates to upgrade their skills past Nitec in the course of their careers. The ITE graduates will be able to access unlimited and affordable opportunities to upgrade their skills according got their learning profiles and needs at different stages of their careers. More places will also be available in the programs as the MOE seeks to boost skills set and see more adults enrolling in the programs.
The government initiatives are meant to bridge the social-economic gap and investing the younger generation. The education minister asserted the government’s commitment to presenting an equal opportunity to all Singaporeans to enhance the development of skills necessary to further their careers. During this year’s National Day rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the changes saying that the government wants education to be accessible and affordable to every citizen. Every citizen deserves better and affordable education which is fundamental to the maintenance of the country as an open meritocracy.