Friday, 2 December 2016

Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) expanded to spur lifelong learning

By Calvin Yang, The Straits Times, 1 Dec 2016

The push towards lifelong learning will soon get another boost, when the use of the Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) is extended to a wider variety of courses, including shorter ones.

The expansion, announced by Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung yesterday, will support those looking to develop specific skill sets, without the need to sign up for a full diploma or degree course, which may take years to complete.

Explaining the move, Mr Ong said: "This is the way learning will become. When we become adults, we learn in bite sizes."

The PSEA, set up in 2008, is meant to encourage young Singaporeans to complete their post-secondary education, where fees are much higher.

An account is opened automatically for eligible Singapore citizens aged seven to 20. It is closed when the account holder turns 30, and unused funds go into the CPF Ordinary Account. From April 1 last year to March 31 this year, 232,603 account holders used their PSEA.

Currently, courses covered under the PSEA include most full-qualification programmes offered by publicly funded institutions, as well as Singapore Workforce Skills Qualifications courses and government-supported special education (SPED) schools.

The expansion will also allow students to pay for more courses beyond those subsidised by the Ministry of Education (MOE), including those offered by arts institutions Lasalle College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

Mr Ong said the expansion reflects "the diverse options we have in skills training".

This extension of the use of the PSEA for more courses will be implemented progressively.

In addition, from next February, special needs students can tap the PSEA to pay for courses offered under SG Enable, an agency which supports people with disabilities.

This move recognises the need to support SPED school graduates with continuing training beyond their school years.

Speaking at an event to celebrate the school-to-work transition programme for SPED graduates, Mr Ong said this would help those with special needs to "gain a skill and stay relevant in the workforce".

Mr Ong said MOE is also reviewing the usage of the PSEA to better complement the SkillsFuture Credit, which gives Singaporeans aged 25 and older an initial $500 credit to pay for skills courses.

Expansion of Usage of Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA) to Support Skills Mastery and Lifelong Learning for all Singaporeans

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