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It's small, but in the worlds of higher education and research, Singapore is a big hitter. Read our guide to studying in Singapore to find out everything you need to know to get started on your Singaporean journey.
A whole series of global reports have recognized Singapore as a world leader in research and innovation. To name a few, it ranked third in the INSEAD Global Innovation Index 2012, first in the Innovation and Information Technology Foundation’s 2011 Innovation and Competitiveness report, and second in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2011-12.
As you’d expect, behind all this innovation lies an excellent higher education system, which is making its presence felt in the QS World University Rankings.
In the rankings by subject for 2012, the National University of Singapore (NUS), displays a breadth of high performance not many universities can rival.
Subjects in which NUS is now ranked within the global top ten include mechanical engineering, geography, law, computer science, accounting and finance, materials science, pharmacy, communication and media studies, statistics and modern languages.
Singapore has more than one string to its bow, however. NUS is joined in the QS rankings by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and – albeit in a smaller range of subjects – by Singapore Management University.
The country is also embracing collaborations with top universities in other countries, which is leading to even more attractive options for prospective students.
Among these is the newly established Singapore University of Technology and Design, developed in partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, and Zhejiang University, China.
Also set to open are the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, a collaboration between NTU and the UK's Imperial College London, and Yale-NUS College – the country’s first liberal arts college, established in partnership with Yale University, US.
Search universities in Singapore >
For many people, the first thing that leaps to mind if you mention Singapore is a sterile and efficient crowded city state in which money is king.
Indeed, the ‘Lion City’, along with South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan, is an ‘Asian Tiger’ economy, a name given to these four nations by virtue of the rapid growth they enjoyed in the second half of the twentieth century.
Unsurprisingly, then, Singapore's population density is one the world’s highest, with the allure of such a strident economy and the ease of doing business proving hard to resist for those who want to do just that. And it is certainly clean – famously, you aren’t allowed to chew gum there in order to keep it that way – and is known for its punctual trains and clear roads filled with gleaming automobiles for which time-limited certificates of entitlement must be purchased.
However there’s more to this island republic than strict laws and financial services. For one thing, it is a true melting pot, with its mixed Chinese, Malaysian and Indian population each contributing elements from their native cultures to create a hybrid which is unique to Singapore.
This is also combined with vestiges of British culture which remain as a result of its colonial past, and Singapore’s large expatriate population, who have their own influence on day-to-day to life.
Singapore’s food stands as one key example of this cocktail of influences, and is the stuff of legend, talked by reverently by nearly all who visit.
Then, there are the multitude of religious beliefs which, in a secular state famed for its gleaming skyscrapers, add colour and drama in the form of temples and iconography at street level, as well as a plethora of festivals. In recent years, Singapore has also invested heavily in arts and culture, with the goal of making it a hub for more than just finance.
Singapore ranked 12th in the 2012 QS Best Student Cities ranking. Find out why >
In order to study in Singapore as an international student, you will need to apply directly to the institution at which you want to study. Your first port of call, therefore, for deadlines, the application procedure, and any other details will be with the institution itself.
There may be limitations on how many courses you can apply for at any given institution, so make sure you check the fine print. As you might expect from a financial powerhouse, fees will not be cheap (averaging at just under US$10,000 in 2010), but are not quite as expensive as somewhere like the UK or Australia.
International students require a ‘Student Pass’, which must be applied for no earlier than two months and no later than one month before your course commences, utilizing the Student’s Pass Online Application & Registration System – known as SOLAR.
If you require a visa, it will be incorporated in your in-principal approval, which you will receive if your application is successful. Your student pass will also allow you to work in holidays, and 16 hours a week in term time (though term-time work is not permitted for all students).
Both domestic and international students are eligible to apply to the Singaporean Ministry of Education for a tuition grant, after having been offered a place on a course.This covers much of the costs of university tuition fees.
In return, international students must sign a bond committing themselves to work for a Singapore-registered company for at least three years after completing their degree – in order to ensure the country benefits from the skills of those it educates.
In order to be granted a Student Pass, you must:
Got questions about studying in Singapore? Get advice in our international student forum >
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