Singapore was named the most expensive city in the world by Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in March this year. Other than cars and housing, what else is expensive in Singapore? What about education?
At BankBazaar, we want to help Singaporeans (and those who are living in Singapore) to uncover and break down the cost of education (up to university). This can come in handy, not just for yourself, but also when you are looking to save for your children’s education fees.
How much does it cost to study in Singapore?
Primary, Secondary Education
Primary and secondary education are part of Singapore government’s efforts to improve literacy rate among Singaporeans. Thus, the cost of primary and secondary education is largely subsidised by Ministry Of Education (MOE).
Successful completion of education up to O’ levels would only cost students S$2,136. This is the basic cost required to complete primary and secondary education in Singapore.
With the increasing variety of lessons offered by schools, students may also pay additional fees for extra-curricular activities like immersion programmes or field trips.
These fees can be offset by the students’ Edusave, although it’s important to note that students only have a limited amount of money in Edusave. Each year, the MOE tops up the student’s Edusave account by a few hundred dollars.
Primary & Secondary Education: S$2,136 for 14 years of studies
Polytechnic vs Junior College
For students who choose to go the JC (or Pre-U) route, you would save a significant amount of school fees. Junior College education would only set you back S$792 for two years of studies in your allocated JC. Contrast this with a Polytechnic education where the school fees are close to S$2,800 per academic year (on average).
If you are pondering whether the course fee varies for different Polytechnics in Singapore, the answer is ‘not really’. While there are slight differences in course fees for different Polytechnics, they still lie within the S$2,700-S$2,800 range. Thus, there isn’t much difference in course fee among the five Polytechnics. The only variation is attributable to the type of courses that students choose to enroll in, e.g. business vs IT.
Junior College: S$792 for two years of studies
Polytechnic: S$8,400 for three years of studies
University is a significant milestone in one’s life before stepping into the working world. And for some, university also represents the last leg of one’s educational journey.
Public Universities Enjoy Tuition Fee Grants
To encourage students to pursue higher education, students of public universities like National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) enjoy tuition grant from MOE. This means that undergraduate students only need to pay a subsidized tuition fee for their course of study.
Nanyang Technological University
The average cost of attaining a degree with NTU is S$27,750-S$32,200 for Singaporeans, depending on the course of study. The lower end of the range is due to the three-year only course for business and accountancy students. Among public universities, NTU is one of the three universities that have a standard course fee for different courses (apart from Business and Accountancy), be it arts, computing or science.
National University of Singapore
NUS and NTU are largely similar in their education fees. The range of tuition fee for NUS is between S$29,350 – S$37,500. The tuition fees of NUS are slightly higher than NTU as the courses are four-year in nature. That being said, there are still exceptions. For its Arts programmes, NUS offers slightly lower tuition fees than NTU.
Singapore University of Technology And Design
Among the four public universities, SUTD is the youngest and yet, offers the most expensive courses. This could be attributed to the nature of the design and technology courses, which require more hands-on learning. According to SUTD, they adopt a cohort-based fixed fee model whereby the tuition fee for a cohort intake will remain unchanged.
Students who are completing a four-year course with SUTD will have to pay around S$50,000 in subsidised tuition fees.
Singapore Management University
Before SUTD was established, SMU used to command the highest tuition fee among the public universities. Students will have to fork out S$40,800 for a four-year programme after MOE’s tuition fee grants.
Singapore Institute of Technology
With the founding of SIT in 2009, diploma holders have an additional option of pursuing a bachelor’s degree through SIT.
SIT offers 1-4 years programmes for a range of fields like Engineering, Info Communications Technology, Nursing and Business. The cost of study at SIT ranges from S$10,000 – S$43,000 depending on the lengths of different programmes as well as the nature of the course.
Singapore University of Social Sciences
SUSS, the most recent addition to Singapore’s list of public universities, offers a range of business-related courses, like Accountancy, Business Analytics, and Finance.
Unlike rest of the public universities, SUSS calculates its tuition fees based on credit units. Students who take more credit units will have to pay higher course fees. This is in contrast to the other universities which allow students to take as many modules as they wish without having to pay additional fees (as long as the school approves them).
But in order to successfully complete the bachelor’s degree, the estimated total fee is between S$31,240 to S$33,240, according to SUSS official website.
Private vs Public Universities
There has been much debate on the difference between private and public universities. The difference between private and public universities is one of not just reputation, but also in education cost. (Note: Singapore University of Social Sciences, previously known as UniSIM, has been accorded the status of an autonomous university by the Singapore Government as of 11th July 2017).
SIM, MDIS and Kaplan
For those who are considering private universities like the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM), Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) and Kaplan, the Singapore government does not provide any tuition fee grants. Thus, depending on your course of studies, it could set you back by a 5-digit debt upon graduation.
For example, SIM’s Bachelor of Science (Business Administration) costs between S$34,668 – S$69,336 (60-120 credits) depending on the number of credits taken. Kaplan’s Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Accounting costs S$21,346.50 for 1.5 years of education. From a HR’s perspective, SIM is probably more reputable than Kaplan and MDIS. Hence, it explains the higher cost that comes with a degree from SIM and its partnering university.
University: S$27,750 – S$69,336 for 3-4 years of studies depending on course of study and institution of study
How much will you need to set aside?
Over the course of your child’s education in Singapore, you’ll need to prepare between S$30,000 – S$80,000, based on prices today. In all likelihood, the prices of university education will go up. Furthermore, these are merely estimated costs for school fees. A parent will need to save for textbooks, tuition, computers, overseas exchange programmes, and much more.
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