Thursday, 13 October 2016

Increase in school fees for non-citizens from 2017

Fee hikes for non-Singaporean students from next year
Revision part of periodic review and will further differentiate fees by citizenship: MOE
By Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times, 12 Oct 2016

From next year, foreign residents and Singapore permanent residents will have to pay more to enrol their children in local schools.

The increase ranges from $20 to $60 per month for PRs, and $20 to $150 per month for international students at primary and secondary schools and pre-universities.

International students who are not from ASEAN countries will have to pay $1,300 a month next year to attend junior colleges and centralised institutes, up from $1,150 currently.

Fees for those in secondary schools will go up to $950 a month, from $800 currently. Those in primary schools will have to pay $600, or $50 more than the current rate.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Education said the revision is part of a periodic review of school fees and will further differentiate them by citizenship.

Fees for Singaporean students remain unchanged.

This is not the first time school fees have increased for non-Singaporeans.

In 2009, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Government would sharpen the distinction between citizens and non-citizens, so as to enhance the privileges of being a citizen.

Then, international students attending secondary schools, for instance, paid $226 a month including miscellaneous fees.

In 2009, younger children studying in primary schools were charged $156 a month, including miscellaneous fees.

The fee hikes, however, are unlikely to deter foreigners from working in Singapore, said Ms Annie Yap, managing director of human resource and recruitment firm AYP Group. This is because foreigners who wish to apply for a Dependant's Pass for their spouses or children have to earn a minimum income of $5,000 a month, she said. "This is just a very minor increase," said Ms Yap.

"School fees for foreigners in other countries like Australia are in thousands and the fees for permanent residents are not subsidised, unlike in Singapore."

For 44-year-old Briton Anna Gibbons, who drives an Uber taxi, the increase in school fees is "significant". The single parent has lived in Singapore for six years and has two children aged eight and 10 in Primary 2 and Primary 4, respectively, in Elias Park Primary School.

"I'm on a limited budget, so it's going to be a struggle but I'll just have to work around it," she said.

While foreign parents on lower budgets may be caught in a bind, the fee hike should not deter foreigners from coming here, and local school fees are still more affordable than fees in international schools, said Dr Yvonne McNulty, an associate lecturer at SIM University.

International schools can charge $15,000 to $30,000 per year for primary school. "What would deter foreigners is the ability to get a place in local schools... Gaining a place in a local school is getting more difficult for non-Singaporeans," said Dr McNulty.

Raising fees for foreign students is being 'fair'
Schools set up for Singapore children; fee hikes enable some costs to be recovered: Minister
By Calvin Yang, The Sunday Times, 16 Oct 2016

Singapore schools are primarily for Singaporean children, and some costs have to be recovered from non-Singaporean students to be "fair" to taxpayers, said Acting Education Minister (Schools) Ng Chee Meng yesterday at a dialogue.

He was commenting on fee hikes, which were announced last week, for non-Singaporean students in local schools.

The increases, which take effect next year, range from $20 to $60 a month for permanent residents (PRs), and $20 to $150 a month for international students at primary and secondary schools and pre-universities. For instance, international students not from Asean countries will have to pay $1,300 a month next year to attend junior colleges and centralised institutes, up from $1,150 currently.

"Our schools are basically set up to run for Singaporean children," said Mr Ng. "For permanent residents and international students, we do differentiate our school fees.

"We do have to make sure that we are fair to the rest of Singaporeans who are taxpayers," he said, adding that some of the costs would have to be recovered from PR and international students.

Mr Ng, who was on his first ministerial community visit to Nanyang division yesterday, was speaking at a dialogue with about 250 residents and students at the Nanyang Community Club in Jurong West.

At the event, he called on students to study hard and play hard but, above all, to retain the joy of learning in all that they do.

The Education Ministry and the schools are taking "first steps" to reduce the overemphasis on academic results, said Mr Ng, in response to a question from a student about the importance of academics.

"Academics remain important... because they develop the mind," he said. "But studying hard does not mean you need to overemphasise on results. The learning journey, in my view, is equally important."

He added that other aspects of education, including values learning, are important too.

Mr Ng also touched on the revamped Primary School Leaving Examination scoring system, which will no longer be based on how pupils perform relative to their peers. He said one reason for the revamp is that pupils can have more time to explore other interests.

He hopes children can help one another and celebrate successes together. "We also want to promote a more collaborative learning where you and your friends can study together, hold hands together, play together and succeed together."

Housewife Serene Phua, 45, who has two daughters aged 16 and 18, said: "It was good to find out from the minister himself what he thinks of the education system. I am glad that the system is moving away from results to focus on other areas such as values."

Increase in School Fees for Non-Citizens in Government and Government-Aided Schools from 2017

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