Singapore is a modern, vibrant nation with an excellent educational system, providing numerous opportunities for internationals who wish to study abroad. Education is a priority in Singapore and the nation is recognised as a ‘global schoolhouse’. A strong emphasis on education started when the British-based education system was introduced by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles (founder of the Singapore Institution, now known as the Raffles Institution) in 1823. Today Singapore is one of the leaders in higher education both in Asia and Worldwide.
Singapore prides itself in maintaining high standards of teaching and learning, as well as scientific research. Another great thing that makes Singaporean higher education stand out are the strong links with industry; as a student you will be able to gain practical experience and find employment more easily in your chosen field.
Singapore is a modern city state with excellent opportunities for education and work. Many global reports show that Singapore is one of the world’s leaders in innovation and research, which in turn makes its institutions of higher education attractive locations for all prospective international students.
Why Study in Singapore?
Singapore has six national universities, with its two largest universities having more than 30,000 students each. Singapore’s most prestigious university is the National University of Singapore (NUS) which ranked 25th in the QS World University Rankings for 2012/13 and is one of the highest-ranking universities in Asia.
In many of the subject areas, the National University of Singapore is ranked within the global top ten, such as: law, computer science, mechanical engineering, geography, materials science, accounting and finance, pharmacy, communication and media studies, modern language and statistics. Other highly ranked institutions in the country are Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University.
In addition to these universities, Singapore also has a wide range of private institutions, along with foreign universities with campuses in Singapore, such as the Chicago Business School and Technische Universität München.
Singaporean universities regularly collaborate with the leading universities in other countries. These connections and collaborations contribute to the overall quality of education offered by universities in Singapore. This is yet another positive factor for international students who choose Singapore as their destination.
Currently, international students account for around 18% of all students in Singapore. However, the government is currently making some cuts to international funding opportunities to ensure more places for domestic students. The goal is to lower international enrolment to 15% by 2015. Despite this, there are still thousands of places available for international students who wish to study abroad in Singapore. Another important fact for all prospective international students is that the official language of instruction in Singapore is English. At the same time, the nation is officially bilingual as English is combined with one of 3 mother tongues (Mandarin, Malay and Tamil). This is a great opportunity for international students to study in English but to also experience a new language and culture while studying abroad.
If you wish to study abroad in Singapore, you have to apply directly to the college or university you’re interested in. It’s therefore important to understand that the deadlines surrounding administration are made within an institution itself. In addition to this, universities and colleges may limit the number of courses you can apply for, so it’s important to take this factor in consideration.
Singapore is a multicultural nation with an excellent opportunities, both professionally and socially. It is a vibrant city-state providing wide-range of opportunities for international students who are looking to experience a true cosmopolitan lifestyle. Singapore is situated just 137 kilometres north of the equator in south-east Asia between Malaysia and Indonesia, giving it a hot and humid climate.
Singapore, the “Lion City” is known for its economy and financial success. The nation is among four “Asian Tiger” economies (along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan). The name was inspired by the rapid growth these nations enjoyed in the second half of the 20th century. This is a name well deserved, since Singapore is one of the world’s financial leaders known for its businesses and success.
Singapore is ranked third in the INSEAD Global Innovation Index 2012 and first in the Innovation and Information Technology Foundation’s 2011 Innovation and Competitiveness report. It is also ranked second in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report for 2011-12. All these rankings prove Singapore’s place within global economy and financial success, which translates, and contributes to the quality of education offered in the country.
The people of Singapore value organisation and order. It has excellent transport within the city and it provides a very easy access to other countries via its award winning international airport. It’s famous for its punctual trains and wide roads and you can expect excellent services and plenty of business opportunities. At the same time, Singapore is a truly cosmopolitan nation full of various vibrant cultural influences. Its multicultural Chinese, Malaysian and Indian population makes Singapore very unique and exciting.
The top tourist attractions in Singapore include:
The Orchard Road district (full of shopping centres and hotels).
Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.
Singapore shopping belts (The Orchard Road, Marina Bay, Bugis Street, Chinatown, Little India, and more).
The island of Sentosa with Tiger Sky Tower.
Cost of Studying & Living in Singapore
The cost of studying in Singapore, whilst not as affordable as other Asian destinations, is still reasonable compared to universities in the big three destinations (UK, USA and Australia). This is one of the factors that make Singapore an attractive destination for international students seeking a quality education. Singapore uses the dollar, although it is the Singaporean Dollar which has a different rate to it’s American counterpart. Bear this in mind when checking costs.
On average, you can expect to pay around US$10,000 per year for tuition fees, although it depends on the course and institution. Arts courses tend to be less expensive than Science courses.
All students, be it domestic or international, are eligible to apply for tuition grants with the Singaporean Ministry of Education. However, you can only apply for a tuition grant after having been offered a place on a course. Tuition grants cover most of the costs of the tuition fees.
Grants are not repayable, but in return, all international students are required to sign a bond that will commit them to work for a Singapore-registered company for at least 3 years after completing their degree. The period of the employment bond is longer for students of medicine (6 years) and dentistry (5 years).
The standard of living is high, so Singapore is an expensive place to live. The actual cost of living will vary depending on your course of study and your individual lifestyle though.
International students who wish to study abroad in Singapore will need a visa. However, the application process is is linked to your university application. All students accepted to study at a university in Singapore receive their visa with their letter of approval.
It means that successful applicants don’t need to apply for a visa directly since it’s issued with their in-principle approval (IPA) letter which is provided by the institution. This letter works as a visa and it can be used at entry checkpoints.
There is another document needed for studying in Singapore: a Student Pass. You need to apply for it no earlier than two months before your course begins, yet no later than one month before your course commences. To obtain your Student Pass, you have to sign up with the special Student’s Pass Online Application & Registration System (SOLAR).
A Student Pass allows you to work during your studies. All international students can work during holidays but are limited to 16 hours of work per week in term time. However, it’s important to note not all students are allowed to work during term-time, so you will have to check regulations to see if it applies to you.
There are 4 official languages recognized in Singapore: Chinese, Malay, Tamil and English. In addition to these, there are more than 20 other languages spoken in Singapore. These languages reflect the nation’s multicultural nature. Singapore has a policy of bilingualism, so all domestic students learn in English but are also taught the language of their own ethnicity (mother tongue).
It’s important to know that English is the official language of instruction in Singapore, so all international students who wish to study abroad in Singapore can expect courses taught in English. When it comes to everyday life, more than 75% of population speaks English too, so students who wish to study abroad in Singapore will have no problems in communicating with locals.
One note for all non-native English speakers who wish to study abroad in Singapore: in order to be accepted by a college or university for study in Singapore, you will need to present a proof of language proficiency. It means you have to pass an official language test (for example – TOEFL or IELTS). Singapore has very high standards when it comes to language proficiency and universities have demanding entry standards, meaning it’s not likely they will accept students without good English. For these reasons, it’s important to have excellent language skills if you wish to study abroad in Singapore.