Singapore Enhances Bursary Allocations To Make Education More Affordable
Singapore is living up to the billing, as one of the most developed nations in the world. Better known for robust financial and healthcare systems, the island nation is once again moving to set the standards, this time on the education front. As countries around the world grapple with high student loans, let alone opportunities for basic education in some countries; Singapore is planning to make education affordable for all.
Concerned with how education is becoming increasingly expensive, with rising cost of tuition, government has swung into action to ensure education is affordable regardless of course. Education, just like Health is a basic need that the government is investing vast sums of money to boost literacy levels and equip workforce with the much-needed skills for the digital world.
The government of PM Lee Hsien has once again underscored its commitment to affordable education Singapore by unveiling a series of initiatives. Some of the initiatives that the government is planning to use to enhance the country’s education system include:
- Enhanced government bursaries targeting undergraduate and diploma students
- Lower tuition fees for social sciences undergraduates as well as students in Singapore Institute of Technology
- Expansion of opportunities for Institute of Technical Education graduates
The initiatives are part of a broader effort that seeks to ensure access to higher education for middle and lower-income households, in a bid to enhance social mobility. In addition, the government aims to make it possible for all Singaporeans to pursue their aspirations and passion regardless of their financial background.
The affordable education Singapore drive should help bridge the widening inequality gap that many observers fear could lead to dire social and political consequences if left unattended.
“Fundamentally, it was a social consideration… that as we do better in education, and more Singaporeans can participate (in higher education), including those from low-income households. We have to increase the bursary to help others. Costs cannot become an impediment for a family with the hard work, talent, and aptitude to upgrade their lives and get a better future for themselves,” said Education Minister Ong Ye Kung.
Making Higher Education Affordable
In a bid to make higher education affordable, the government is to spend an additional S$44 million a year, on top of the current S$123 million allocated to the ministry of education. The addition will help support the more than 55,000 Singaporean undergraduates, most of whom come from low and middle-income households. The increase will mostly target households with incomes of less than S$4,000 a month.
Increase Bursary Allocations for Undergraduates
As part of the new affordable education Singapore program, the government is planning to offer more subsidiaries to low income earning families. The bursaries should reduce, considerably, the amount of fees that undergraduates pay. As it stands, the government subsidizes close to 75% of total university tuition fees with students left to cater for the remaining 25%.
The new education bursaries will target lower and middle-income families with students enrolled in MOE subsidized full-time undergraduate courses. The government is also planning to raise the bursary quanta to $2,200. Eligible students will conversely only have to pay $2,000 per annum to cater for their tuition fees down from the current $4,200.
Affordable Medicine and Dentistry Programs
The affordable education Singapore push will also have a significant impact on medicine and dentistry programs that students from low-income households have struggled to pursue over the years, given the high tuition fees. Currently, only 11% of medicine and dentistry students come from the 30th percentile of household with low income.
In a bid to ensure that good students from low and middle-income families pursue their dreams to become doctors, the government will offer a bursary to supplement University aid. Once combined, a student who qualifies for the highest aid will only have to pay S$5,000 per annum to pursue any course in medicine or dentistry.
General Courses Bursary Subsidies
The broad changes to financing in the education sector will also see undergraduate students enrolled in general courses enjoy cuts on tuition fees. Tuition fees at Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Social Sciences will consequently drop from $8,200 and $7,900 respectively to $7,500 per annum. The cuts will be a big reprieve for as many as 20% of full-time students at SIT students and 80% SUSS students.
Costs will remain high for the SIT students in part because most programs consist of overseas university partners.
Higher Bursaries for Diplomas
The government has also moved to address the needs of students pursuing diploma courses. While the students currently pay about $750 a year, they will soon only have to pay $500 with the inclusion of the new bursary under the new affordable education Singapore drive.
The cut will apply to both new and existing diploma students at polytechnics as well as the National Institute of Early Childhood Development. The diploma bursary will also apply to arts institutions.
The government has also raised the bursary quanta for polytechnic students by up to $400. Students from low-income families will have as much as 95% of their tuition fees subsidized, allowing them to only pay $150 per annum instead of the current $550.
Supporting ITE Graduates
The Ministry of Education will also continue to support Institute Of Technical Education graduates as they continue to enhance their skills while working. The primary goal is to create more opportunities that will allow ITE graduates to upgrade beyond the National ITE certificate.
For that matter, the MOE is to increase the number of placements in the SkillsFuture work-study diploma program. By 2030, the government intends to make it possible of ITE graduates to upgrade beyond Nitec studies.
By making education Affordable Singapore, the government is showing how it expects education to affirm Singapore’s competitiveness on the world scene. High literacy levels should also go a long way in bridging the inequality gap in society, as citizens have the much-needed skills to pursue their aspirations to live a comfortable life.