Singapore is a lively city rich in disparity and color where you can find a harmoniously blend of culture, cuisine, arts and architecture. More than 16 leading foreign universities have also set up centers of excellence in education and research. Singapore’s quality private education organizations add further diversity to the nation’s education landscape. Tuition fees are affordable and the cost of living in Singapore is still significantly lower than of many developed countries. Talented students who need financial assistance can find the help they need in form of scholarships, bursaries and study loans. Singapore is consistently acknowledged to be a global business hub with its developed infrastructure, political stability and open business policy.
It may be small, but in the realms of higher education and research, Singapore is a big hitter. A whole series of global reports have recognized Singapore as a world leader in research and innovation over the past few decades. In recent years, it’s been ranked seventh in the 2015 INSEAD Global Innovation Index, third in IMD’s 2014 World Competitiveness Rankings and second in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2014-15.
Within this context of global competitiveness and innovation, universities in Singapore are also gaining growing recognition, as Asian nations more generally strengthen their position in the global education market. Singapore’s two leading universities are now both ranked within the world’s top 15, and the city itself is ranked 14th in the QS Best Student Cities 2017, reflecting its combination of educational excellence, high quality of life, and diverse student community.
Universities in Singapore
There are 34 universities in Singapore, of which six are national. The two best-known, the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) both feature very highly in the QS World University Rankings® 2018, offering courses in a wide range of subjects to their student populations of over 30,000 each.
Why study in Singapore?
Of all the four Asian tiger economies, Singapore is probably the easiest for students from overseas to adjust to.
- Despite its cosmopolitan population, its history as a centre of trade and entrepreneurialism positions it closer to the West than its neighbours. While Chinese, Malay, and Tamil are also official languages, English is widely spoken and understood by 75% of the five million population, and is the officially designated language for the education system.
- Although dented by the recession in the early part of the century, the economy has rebounded strongly and it is described as the world’s fourth financial centre, while its port is one of the five busiest ports in the world. The International Monetary Fund has rated it the third highest country in terms of per capita income,
- Contrary to international trends, Singapore is aiming to restrict the number of international students at its universities in the face of local anxiety that too few places were available for nationals. Foreign enrolment at Singapore’s universities will be capped while 2,000 new university places will be added for local students by 2015, so that the proportion of foreign students will come down from 18% of the student body to about 15%.
- Entry and visa regulations
- Once accepted by a university, applicants must apply within two weeks to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for a Student’s Pass (S$90). The application is processed online.
- Successful applicants will be issued with an in-principle approval (IPA) letter. Applicants need not apply for a separate visa as it is incorporated in the IPA letter, which can be used at entry checkpoints.
- On arrival in Singapore, complete formalities on production of a range of documents including passport, disembarkation/embarkation card, and a medical report in the prescribed format (available on ICA’s website).
- Singapore’s universities have demanding entry standards and are unlikely to accept anyone without good English.
- For applicants whose mother tongue is not English, the individual universities will set their required IELTS/TOEFL scores. Do not expect to be admitted without high scores.
- Read more about English language tests.
- The university system
- Singapore’s two most prominent universities are highly regarded internationally. The National University of Singapore is a global leader, and the Nanyang Technological University is also a fast-rising institution.
- These universities each have in excess of 30,000 students and provide a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes including doctoral degrees. Both are also established research universities with thousands of research staff and graduate students.
- The government supports three other public institutions: the Singapore Management University offering programmes in business management, accountancy, economics, law and the social sciences; Singapore University of Technology and Design; and the Singapore Institute of Technology. Many private universities exist, including the SIM University which caters only for part-time students, offering part-time degree programmes to working adults, although plans are in train to add full-time degree programmes.
- A number of foreign universities have established campuses in Singapore such as the Chicago Business School and Technische Universität München.
- Applications for entry and visa formalities are handled by the university to which you are applying. Each university has minimum entry requirements.
- The closing date for normal applications is in February of the year of entry.
Tuition fees and funding your study
Tuition fees vary widely between institutions and courses. At the NUS for the current year (2012–13) fees range from S$13,730 up to S$40,010 for medicine and dentistry.
- International students can apply for a tuition grant which is administered by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and offered to all admitted students. Students who are approved for the tuition grants need only pay subsidised fees.
- While the tuition grant is not repayable, international students who have received it are – in common with Singapore nationals – required to work in Singapore after graduation to contribute to repayment. The period of the employment bond is longer for international students than for nationals.
- For medicine and dentistry students from overseas the service bond with the Singapore Ministry of Health is either for six years (medicine) or five years (dentistry). For other courses international students will be required to work for a Singapore-registered company for three years after graduation.
- Living expensesin Singapore
- Singapore offers a high, yet affordable, quality of lifestyle. The cost of living in Singapore is significantly lower than that of developed countries such as Australia, UK and USA. An international student in Singapore spends on average about SGD 750 to SGD 2,000 a month on living expenses, including accommodation, utilities, food, transport, clothing, telecommunications, books, medical and personal expenses (These estimates serve as reference only).
- Accommodation in Singapore
- There is wide variety of accommodation in Singapore to suit different budgets and needs. Student should make arrangements before their arrival. Temporary accommodation can be arranged giving student more time to settle.
- Student can seek the help of the International Student Officer available at most institutes. Some of the housing option available includes residence halls, private hostel, home-stays, public and private apartments/ house.
The admitting university will help with finding accommodation but students are advised to arrange short-term accommodation in a hostel before leaving home.
- Hostel fees range from S$12 a night upwards.
- Long-term accommodation ranges from on-campus residencies to student hostels and private rented accommodation.
Costs of living
Singapore is an expensive place to live by international comparisons, let alone in the Far East.
- While inflation for much of the past five years has stayed around 4%, the cost of food, transport, and eating out has risen faster.
Typical costs in Singapore (GBP, March 2015) are:
- Apartment rent, 1 bedroom: £996 – £1,487 per month
- Meal, inexpensive restaurant: £4.87
- Meal at McDonalds: £3.41
- Domestic beer (0.5 litre draught): £3.35
- Imported beer (0.33 litre bottle): £3.90
- Cappuccino: £2.54
- Coke/Pepsi (0.33 litre bottle): £0.75
- Water (0.33 litre bottle): £0.52
- Loaf of bread: £1.02
- Cigarettes: £6.23
- One-way ticket local transport: £0.83
- Cinema ticket: £5.60
Working while studying
- Full-time undergraduates are allowed to work part-time of up to 16 hours per week during term, and work full-time during vacation as the Ministry of Manpower has exempted them from applying for work permits.
Health and safety
Students entering Singapore are screened for TB and HIV. A medical certificate showing that neither condition is present is required before a student pass is issued.
- Polyclinics are medical service providers whose fees are cheaper than private clinics. You can expect to pay about S$15 per visit. This includes medication, which you can pick up at the polyclinic on the same visit. Foreign students can see a doctor at any polyclinic, but must produce their Student’s Pass.
- The crime rate is one of the lowest in the world. While petty crime such as pick pocketing and street theft occurs at airports, tourist destinations, hotels and on public transport, violent crime is rare.
- Importation of large quantities of chewing gum is prohibited and you may be fined for failing to flush the loon. A large number of anti-social acts attract fines, and corporal punishment is sometimes imposed.
- Drug laws are draconian – you risk arrest simply by being in the company of drug users – and trafficking in modest quantities of illegal drugs carries the death penalty.
Top courses in Singapore:
Singapore’s education has become increasingly popular over the course of 5 years. Many students now prefer to study in Singapore instead of the already renowned USA and UK. This transition is due to the rapid development in the educational sector. They are leading charts for many courses. Some of them are mentioned below:
1.) Banking and finance:
Being the financial center for business activities in Asia, Singapore has witnessed a spurt in the Banking and Finance related courses in the last few years. Of course, one of the reasons behind the boost is the availability of work opportunities in this field.
Being a technology hub, Singapore has made a name among international students in engineering courses.
Some of the popular engineering courses are: Bioengineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Civil engineering.
3.) Computer Science and IT:
A degree in Computer Science prepares students with particular interest in information technology and computers. Computer science research is related to areas such as Artificial Intelligence, Systems and Networking, Computational Biology, Database Management and so on.
Law in Singapore is such that it is in sync with the law model of most countries. As such, the degree is considered valid and recognized in countries like Malaysia, UK, US, Australia, Canada among others. Not only that, Singapore’s legal education is seen as one of the best in Asia. The National University of Singapore Faculty of Lawis widely regarded as Asia’s best law school and one of the top international law schools. The Undergraduate LLB degree is awarded after 4 years of study and for students who have a prior degree in any other subject can qualify for the Graduate LL.B. Program, and will obtain their LL.B. in three years instead of four.
- Art and Design
- Tourism and Hospitality
New applications are to be submitted at least 2 months prior and not more than 6 months from the course commencement date.Applicants are not required to be present in Singapore while their applications are being considered. Hence, applicants are advised to apply for a Student’s Pass before arriving in Singapore, as no extension of stay will be granted while the applications are under processing.Applicants are advised to enter Singapore to complete the formalities for the issuance of a Student’s Pass only after their applications have been approved. They will be issued with Student’s Passes within one month from the course commencement date.
- Singapore Scholarships:
- The Ministry of Education (MOE) provides tuition grants to student enrolled at local universities and polytechnics. International students who avail of the tuition grants are required to work for three years upon graduation, either in a Singapore-registered company or institute overseas.
- Numerous financial assistance schemes are available to students.
- Tuition fee loan schemes:
- Provides a loan of up to 90 per cent of the subsidized tuition fees payable for university students and up to 75 per cent of the subsidized tuition fees payable for polytechnic student.
- Awarded based on financial need and usually do not exceed SGD 1,500 per year.
- Study Loans:
- Study loans are usually payable upon graduation at favorable interest rates. Some institutes offer loan for other expenses, such as computer.
A number of scholarships are open to international students. Selection is usually based on academic merit, leadership and co-curricular records. Scholarships available to Indian students include the SIA-NOL Scholarship and Youth Scholarship.
Student Visa for Singapore
A student pass (Visa) allows an International student to remain in Singapore for the purpose of study. An international student is required to apply for a student pass if he/she has been accepted by an education institution to pursue full time studies in Singapore.
Where to apply
The website to apply for the visa is www.ica.gov.sg
a. How many days prior the student can apply for visa
60 days prior the commencement date a student can apply for Visa.
b. Documents required
Document consists of 3 sets:-
- Form 16 & Form 36
- Passport copy of atleast 6 months validity
- acceptance form that comes with the COL
- Passport size photograph (against a white background)
- last 3 months IT returns.
- Parents salary slip / Employment Letter
- Savings in liquid assets of S$30,000.
- All academic documents attested and notarised.
c. Visa Application Fee
The visa application fee is S$30
d. Processing Time
The general processing time for a new application is about 4 weeks [2 weeks for Private Education Organizations that are awarded the 4 years EduTrust Star/EduTrust status] upon the receipt of a duly completed application by ICA. Some applications may however take a longer time to process
e. English Ability Requirements
If the student has studied from an English Medium School, then he gets a waiver on IELTS and TOEFL, but the students have to arrange for a letter themselves stating a waiver from their respective institute.
so, what are you waiting for? It’s great that you decide now while the opportunity lasts!