Tuition and living costs
Singapore’s strong economy and high quality of living is accompanied by correspondingly high living costs, and some of the highest tuition fees in Asia. However, it’s still a relatively inexpensive option when comparing tuition costs internationally, with destinations such as the UK or Australia for example. Annual fees currently average around S$14,800 (US$11,800), but be aware that depending on the prominence of the university and the program you undertake, you may end up paying considerably more. The good news is that 52% of international students receive financial aid.
The National University of Singapore’s current annual tuition fees range from just over S$13,700 (US$11,000) to as much as S$40,000 (US$32,000) for programs in medicine and dentistry. Programs not subsidized by the government start at S$26,300 (US$21,000).
With rises in the costs of food and transport in the last five years, living costs are another significant expenditure. Expect housing, bills and other necessary expenses to cost you, on average, just under S$9,400 (US$7,500) a year.
Applications and visas to study in Singapore
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. Therefore your first port of call, to check deadlines, application procedures 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.
International students wishing to study in Singapore will need a student visa. This will be issued along with your letter of approval (also known as your in-principal approval or IPA) once your application has been accepted by a recognized university. Your application is subject to previous recognized qualifications, evidence of the required paperwork, and proof of sufficient English language skills.
While this automatic issuance means you do not have to worry about applying for your student visa, you will have to apply to the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for a Student Pass within two weeks of getting accepted. This also has to be no earlier than two months before and no later than one month prior to the start of your course. You will have to do this through the Student’s Pass Online Application & Registration System, known as SOLAR, which the institution at which you have been accepted will register you with.
To apply online for your Student Pass, log on to SOLAR with the registration details your school has provided and fill in and submit eForm 16 via SOLAR. This will require valid passport details, the address of your university, your email address and a recent photo. To complete the process after arrival in the country, you’ll need to make an appointment with the ICA and bring your disembarkation/embarkation card granted on entry into Singapore, a passport-sized picture, a printout of a signed and completed eForm 16, a copy of your in-principle approval, and a recent medical report on the correct form. When collecting the Student Pass, a signed copy of the terms and conditions form must also be supplied. You will be charged S$30 (US$24) when submitting your application and a further S$60 (US$48) when the pass is issued.
Your Student Pass will allow you to work full-time in the school holidays and 16 hours a week in term time for most students.
Both domestic and international students are also 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 for this grant, however, 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. The period of this bond is often longer for students of medicine and dentistry.
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