Singapore—Indranee Rajah, the Second Minister for Education, clarified on August 26, Monday, that there will be no additional bursaries for tertiary-level students since their bursaries at present are enough.
This pertains specifically to students who belong to families in the S$6,901 and S$9,000 gross household income bracket. Currently, they are receiving S$1,350 worth of undergraduate bursaries.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced on August 18, at this year’s National Day Rally speech, that students from lower-income families can expect to pay decreased university and polytechnic fees.
This is part of the endeavour to make education in Singapore “as accessible as possible,” he said.
PM Lee said that for new and current students in university, bursaries from the Ministry of Education (MOE) will be increased from up to 50 percent of general degree fees to up to 75 percent. University studies can cost upwards of S$6,000 per year.
As for students in polytechnics, the bursary coverage from the (MOE) will be raised from 80 percent of fees to as much as 95 percent, meaning that if a student paid S$600 for the current year, they will only end up paying S$150. Polytechnic studies normally cost about S$3000 per year.
Ms Indranee clarified the difference between increasing financial aid for polytechnic students who belong to families with gross household incomes up to S$9,000 and university students with household incomes of S$6,900 and less, but not for those whose families belong to a higher income bracket.
She said, ”For universities, you can see that for the first few tiers, actually, the increase that we gave was quite a bit. That is because the current bursaries, we felt, were not adequate.
When you look at the top tier, we felt that the current bursary was actually adequate for that income group. So that’s why there was no increase for that one.
But for the other tiers, because we felt that the current bursary didn’t provide as much assistance as would be necessary for those groups, that’s why we topped it up.”
Students from middle-income families are benefiting from the increased bursaries since six out of every 10 university and polytechnic students are eligible for bursaries from the MOE.
Students must come from households that have a gross monthly household income (GHI) of S$9,000 or less, or gross monthly household per capita income (PCI) of S$2,250 or less, in order to be eligible for the MOE bursary at the post-secondary level.
Additionally, school fees have been reduced from around S$8,000 to S$7,500 for full-time general degree programmes at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).
When asked if the Government was looking to decrease fees at other institutions as well, Ms Indranee replied, “The two newer autonomous universities, that’s SIT and SUSS – when they first started out they had smaller cohort sizes, which means that the cost per head is higher.
But now, as they’ve been more established, they’re having more students, which means that you can bring the cost down.
And what we’re trying to do is to make sure that their costs are in line with the other universities.”
She also affirmed the Government’s pledge to provide accessible education. “Whatever it is, this Government’s commitment is to make sure that for education, we will continue to make sure that nobody gets left behind and that we will provide what is needed for our population.” -/TISG
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