Indian nationals who were awarded scholarships advertised by the Ministry of Education (MOE) are set to arrive in Singapore in the December-January period, in time for the next school year. The two scholarships that are administered by the MOE are the A*STAR Youth Scholarship and the SIA Youth Scholarship.

Both scholarships are open to Indian nationals only.

The A*STAR Youth Scholarship is one that allows youth scholars from India to study in selected Singapore schools from Secondary 3 to Pre-University 2, until they earn the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE ‘A’-Level) (or equivalent) certificate. The scholarship is renewed annually, subject to the satisfactory performance of the scholar.

Applications were accepted from 24 June to 28 July this year and had to undergo a selection test in Delhi in September, followed by a round of interviews in October. The scholarships were awarded last month and the scholars are expected to arrive in Singapore this month and begin Secondary 3 next year.

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According to MOE’s website, those who won the A*STAR Youth Scholarship are entitled to the following benefits: annual allowance with hostel accommodation, settling-in allowance, return economy class air passage, coverage of school fees and GCE O-Level and A-Level examination fees, as well as subsidised medical benefits and accident insurance cover.

The SIA Youth Scholarship, which is sponsored by Singapore Airlines, was launched over a decade ago. Each year, 25 to 50 students from across India are chosen to study in selected Singapore Junior Colleges for two years of Pre-University studies, leading to the award of the Singapore-Cambridge General Certificate of Education Advanced Level (GCE ‘A’-Level) (or equivalent) certificate.

Like the A*STAR Youth Scholarship, the SIA Youth Scholarship is renewed annually, subject to the satisfactory performance of the scholar. The selection process and benefits for scholars under the SIA-sponsored programme are similar to that of the A*STAR Youth Scholarship.

According to Indian news portal, Connected to India, SIA youth scholars receive an annual allowance of about S$2,400 on top of free accommodation, school and exam fees.

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Earlier this year, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung revealed that MOE spends about S$238 million a year on scholarships and tuition grants for foreign students studying in Singapore. S$108 million out of the S$238 million is spent on tuition grants and the remaining S$130 million is spent on scholarships.

In response to questions by Workers’ Party (WP) politician Leon Perera, Mr Ong assured that foreign students are admitted into institutes of higher learning (IHLs) only after “all Singaporean students who meet the standards have been admitted” and that “No Singaporean is ever displaced from institutes of higher learning because of an international student.”

When Mr Perera pointed out that the sum spent on foreign students, which amounts to 1.8 per cent of MOE’s annual budget of S$13 billion, “was on the high side”, Mr Ong said that only a “small minority” of foreign students who exceed the IHLs’ standards are admitted into local tertiary schools and that the annual education budget of about S$13 billion is “overwhelmingly” spent on local students.

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The ruling party politician added that annual government spending on scholarships and tuition grants for foreign students has fallen by about 50 per cent over the past 10 years.

Responding to Mr Ong’s revelation, another WP politician Yee Jenn Jong pointed out that this means the Government used to spend about S$476 million on foreign students in the past:

“Put this in the context of Singapore having only 4 government funded universities then (versus 6 now), the percentage spent by the government then to support foreign students versus how much it spent on supporting local students would have been very much higher than today.”

WP politicians set to question Ong Ye Kung on Govt spending on foreign students