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Enhancing Affordability and Expanding Upgrading Opportunities in Higher Education

Undergraduate and diploma programmes to be more affordable;
Upgrading opportunities for ITE graduates to be expanded.

1. Following PM Lee Hsien Loong’s announcements on higher education at the National Day Rally 2019, MOE has followed up with details on the following new initiatives:

  1. Enhanced Government bursaries for MOE-subsidised full-time undergraduates and diploma students, with even more support for Medicine and Dentistry undergraduates;

  2. Lower tuition fees for Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) undergraduates enrolled in full-time general courses; and

  3. Expanded upgrading opportunities for Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates.

2. These initiatives seek to ensure that higher education remains affordable, and that Singaporeans have access to a range of pathways to progress and pursue their aspirations, regardless of their financial or educational background.

Enhancing Affordability of Higher Education

Enhanced Government Bursaries for MOE-Subsidised Full-time Undergraduates and Diploma Students

3. The Government subsidises around 75% of the total cost of university education, i.e. fees today reflect around 25% of the total cost of delivery. Bursaries will support lower income students who may have difficulties paying the subsidised fees.

4. To strengthen financial support for students from lower and middle income families, Government bursaries for eligible full-time Singaporean undergraduates and diploma students will be enhanced with effect from Academic Year 2020 (AY2020). This will include Singaporean students enrolled in MOE-subsidised full-time undergraduate and diploma courses in the Autonomous Universities, polytechnics, ITE1, the National Institute of Early Childhood Development, and arts institutions (Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and LASALLE College of the Arts).

5. For undergraduates, the Government bursary quanta will be raised by up to $2,200. With the enhancements, eligible students (excluding those from Medicine and Dentistry) from lower-income households, who qualify for the highest bursary tier, will have 75% of their subsidised tuition fees covered by the bursary. They will pay $2,000 per annum, instead of $4,200 today.

6. The Government subsidises around 85% of the total cost of polytechnic education. In addition, polytechnic bursaries are provided over and above the subsidies to assist students from lower income families. The Government bursary quanta will be raised by up to $400. With the enhancements, eligible diploma students from lower-income households who qualify for the highest bursary tier, will have about 95% of the subsidised tuition fees covered. They will pay $150 per annum, down from $550 today.

7. Medicine and Dentistry undergraduates face higher tuition fees, which reflects the higher cost of these programmes, and are bonded to the public healthcare sector after they graduate. To ensure that good students from low and middle income families are not deterred from pursuing Medicine and Dentistry undergraduate courses, MOE will introduce an even higher bursary provision for these students.

8. The universities today also provide significant financial aid to Medicine and Dentistry undergraduates from low income families. With a combination of the new Government bursary and university aid, a Medicine or Dentistry undergraduate who qualifies for the highest bursary tier will only need to pay up to $5,000 per annum in tuition fees.

9. This remaining amount can be further covered by loans and the Post-Secondary Education Account to make the upfront cost of higher education more manageable for students.

10. The bursaries for MOE-subsidised full-time undergraduates and diploma students will be renamed to better reflect their purpose. The Community Development Council / Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CDC/CCC) Bursary will be renamed as the Higher Education Community Bursary, while the Ministry of Education (MOE) Bursary will be renamed the Higher Education Bursary. The former helps students from families with Gross Monthly Household Income (GHI) of up to $4,000 or Gross Monthly Household Per Capita Income (PCI) of up to $1,000. The latter helps students with GHI of $4,001-$9,000 or PCI of $1,001-$2,250. The name changes will take effect from AY2020.

11. About 55,000 Singaporean students are expected to benefit each year from the bursary enhancements. The Government will be investing approximately $44 million more per year for these enhancements, or a 36% increase from the current $123 million. Details on the bursary enhancements are provided in Annex A.

Lower Tuition Fees for SIT and SUSS Undergraduates in Full-Time General Courses

12. Singaporean undergraduates enrolled in full-time general courses at the two applied universities, SIT and SUSS, will have their tuition fees reduced from around $8,200 and $7,900 respectively to $7,500 per annum in AY2020. This will benefit around 20% of full-time undergraduates in SIT and 80% of undergraduates in SUSS in AY2020. The reduction applies to both new and existing students. The list of general courses at SIT and SUSS is in Annex B.

13. The applied degree pathway was introduced in 2014 starting with SIT, with a greater emphasis on practice-oriented learning, a strong nexus with industry, and integration of work and study. With the expansion in student intakes over the years, SIT and SUSS have been able to lower operating costs and reduce tuition fees for Singaporeans in the full-time general courses from AY2020.

Expanding Upgrading Opportunities for ITE Graduates

14. MOE will also continue to support ITE graduates in their skills upgrading journey. Over the years, we have expanded various pathways for ITE students to deepen their skills.

15. Currently, 7 in 10 ITE Nitec graduates upgrade through various publicly-funded pathways, including the full-time and part-time Higher Nitec and diploma pathways. This follows efforts such as ITE’s expansion of full-time Higher Nitec places under the recommendations of the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE Review (ASPIRE) in 2014. Work-Study programmes such as the ITE’s SkillsFuture Work-Study Diplomas (previously known as Work-Learn Technical Diplomas) have also been introduced for those who prefer to learn through a more integrated experience. Most recently, our polytechnics have facilitated the admission of working adults into full-time diploma programmes by recognising their competencies gained through related work experience, in addition to academic grades.

Supporting aspirations and equipping ITE graduates with deeper skills

16. By 2030, MOE will provide opportunities for all ITE graduates to upgrade beyond a Nitec over the course of their careers. To provide ITE graduates with a range of upgrading opportunities according to their needs and learning profiles at different stages of their careers, we will increase the number of places in ITE’s SkillsFuture Work-Study Diplomas and full-time Higher Nitec programmes. More places for working adults will also be provided in full-time polytechnic diploma programmes.

  1. ITE offers the Technical Diploma/Technical Engineer Diploma.
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