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Education

 

Singapore’s Education System

 
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Under the age of 7 years old, children will undergo Preschool education before going into Primary School education. All Singapore Citizens born after 1 January 1996 and living in Singapore must attend a national primary school unless an exemption is granted.

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At the end of Primary School education, students undertake the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). The PSLE determines which Secondary School stream the student goes to. There are 3 Secondary School streams - Express, Normal (Academic) and Normal (Technical). The cut-off points decrease through the 3 streams.

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Express stream - 4 years of Secondary School, students go on to take the GCE O-Level examinations

 

Normal (Academic) stream - 4-5 years of Secondary School. At Secondary 4, students take the GCE N(A)-Level examinations. Students can choose whether to proceed to Secondary 5, where they can take the GCE O-Level examinations.

https://www.moe.gov.sg/secondary/courses/normal-academic#:~:text=Normal%20(Academic)%20is%20a%204,of%20Technical%20Education%20(ITE).

 

Normal (Technical) stream - 4 years of Secondary School. At Secondary 4, students take the GCE N(T)-Level examinations. Students can decide whether to go on to take the GCE N(A)-Level examinations.

https://www.moe.gov.sg/secondary/courses/normal-technical

 

Alternatively after the PSLE, students can join the Integrated Programme (IP). The IP programme is a 6-year programme, where students skip the GCE O-Level examinations and take the GCE A-Level examinations at the end of the 6 years.

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At the end of Secondary School education, students who have taken the GCE O-Level* examinations go on to either Polytechnic, Junior College (JC), Millennia Institute (MI), or the Institute of Technical Education (ITE). Students who have taken the GCE A-Level examinations under the IP programme then go on to enrol into University.

 

*The General Certificate of Education is a family of academic qualifications introduced in the United Kingdom in 1951. Singapore students undertake the GCE Ordinary Level examinations in their final year of secondary education.

For students who have taken the GCE O-Level examinations, they can choose the following routes:

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Polytechnics offer 3-year post-secondary education. At the end of the 3 years, students obtain a Diploma in their course of specialisation.

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Junior Colleges (JC) offer 2-year pre-university courses. At the end of the 2 years, students take the GCE A-Level* examinations.

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The Millennia Institute (MI) offers 3-year pre-university education. At the end of the 3 years, students take the GCE A-Level* examinations.

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The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) offers a Nitec and Higher Nitec qualification of 2 years for O-Level students.

 

At the end of pre-university education, University education is open to students who have taken their A-Level examinations or have attained a Diploma.

 

*GCE A-Level examinations

The General Certificate of Education Advanced Level is generally required across universities to grant entrance. Students can choose the subjects they would like to be graded on based on the University course of their choice. Universities in UK Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore, Egypt, Jordan, South Africa, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain accept the A-Level certification. In Singapore, alternatives to the GCE A-Level examinations for university entry are Polytechnic Diplomas, or an International Baccalaureate. Let’s take a look at the various examinations across countries!

US

The US equivalent of the GCE A-Level is the High School Diploma taken at 12th grade. Students start preparing at 9th grade. Students also need to sit for the ACT and Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) for college admission. See requirements to local Singapore universities through the High School Diploma here: 

NUS

NTU

 

India

In India, the Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC), the All India Senior School Certificate Examination (AISSCE), or the Indian School Certificate (ISC) is attained at 12th Class, 12th Standard, or 12th Grade. Students start preparing at 11th Class between the age of 17 to 18. See requirements to local Singapore universities through 12th Standard certifications here:

NUS

NTU 

International Baccalaureate (IB)

The International Baccalaureate (IB), formerly known as the International Baccalaureate Organization (IBO), is a nonprofit foundation headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, and founded in 1968. It offers four educational programmes: the IB Diploma Programme and the IB Career-related Programme for students aged 15 to 19, the IB Middle Years Programme for students aged 11 to 16, and the IB Primary Years Programme for children aged 3 to 12. Certain schools in Singapore also offer International Baccalaureate (IB) education.

 

See entry requirements of IB students into some local universities:

NUS

NTU

SMU

 

Singapore Local Universities

NUS - NUS was ranked 1st in the Asia region in the QS World University Rankings

 

NTU - In the 19th QS World University Rankings (WUR) published in June 2022, NTU was ranked 19th position globally

 

SMU - QS (Top universities) has ranked SMU within the top 500 universities from 2017 to 2020 in its world university ranking

 

SUTD - SUTD is the most cited university by international experts as an emerging leader in engineering education in a new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The study also named SUTD as the top emerging engineering schools.

 

SIT - Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) is Singapore's University of Applied Learning, offering applied degree programmes targeted at growth sectors of the economy.

SUSS - Has earned the CapitaLand Top Achievement Award and The Golden Village Achievement Award for Film Studies among other awards.

 
 
 
 
 

Comparison of Education Systems

Let’s take a look at the education systems across the globe! (juxtaposed with SG’s system)

 
Comparison

Comparison to US Education System

 
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Comparison to
Indian Education System

 
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Enrollment

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Can Foreigners enroll their child
in local schools?

In Singapore, international students can seek admission to our mainstream primary schools, secondary schools, junior colleges and Millennia Institute.

Admission processes: ​​https://www.moe.gov.sg/international-students/admission

Requirements: https://www.moe.gov.sg/international-students/studying-in-singapore

Local School Fees

School fees differ from Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents, to International Students.

 

School fees also differ from International Students from ASEAN countries and non-ASEAN countries. ASEAN countries include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Singapore.

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Images taken from https://www.moe.gov.sg/news/press-releases/20211021-revised-school-fees-for-non-citizens-in-government-and-government-aided-schools-for-2022-and-2023

 

Standard Miscellaneous Fees for 6 years of primary education, 4 years of secondary education and 2 years of pre-university education: $1,272

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Government School fees for International Students (Non-ASEAN) in 2022:

6 years of primary education:

$825 x 12 months x 6 years = $59,400

4 years of secondary education:

$1,600 x 12 months x 4 years = $76,800

2 years of pre-university (JC) education:

$1,950 x 12 months x 2 years = $46,800

Total (inclusive of $1,272 misc. fees): $184,272

 

Government School fees for International Students (ASEAN) in 2022:

6 years of primary education:

$490 x 12 months x 6 years = $35,280

4 years of secondary education:

$840 x 12 months x 4 years = $40,320

2 years of pre-university (JC) education:

$1,070 x 12 months x 2 years = $25,680

Total (inclusive of $1,272 misc. fees): $102,552

 

Government School fees for PR in 2022

6 years of primary education:

$230 x 12 months x 6 years = $16,560

4 years of secondary education:

$440 x 12 months x 4 years = $21,120

2 years of pre-university (JC) education:

$520 x 12 months x 2 years = $12,480

Total (inclusive of $1,272 misc. fees): $51,432

 

Government Schools fees for Singapore Citizens in 2022

6 years of primary education:

$0

4 years of secondary education:

$5 x 12 months x 4 years = $240

2 years of pre-university (JC) education:

$6 x 12 months x 2 years = $144

Total (inclusive of $1,272 misc. fees): $1,656

 

Find out your child’s school fees here: https://www.moe.gov.sg/financial-matters/fees/

International School Fees

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Primary education (Grade 1-5):

$30,000 x 5 years = $150,000

Lower Secondary education (Grade 6-9): 

$35,000 x 4 years = $140,000

Upper Secondary education (Grade 10-12):

$40,000 x 3 years = $120,000

Estimated Total: $410,000

Local Tuition Fees
(Polytechnic)

There are 5 polytechnics in Singapore, let’s look at the fees for a few:

Singapore Polytechnic (SP)

Course Fees for Full-time Diploma Courses - New students enrolling in AY2022

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Local Tuition Fees
(University)

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National University of Singapore (NUS)

For new students admitted in AY2022/2023

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Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Tuition Fees for Sem 1, 2 for 2022

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Loans

Tuition Fee Loan

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Students in polytechnics and autonomous universities can apply for the Tuition Fee Loan to cover a certain percentage of their tuition fee.

Who is eligible

  • Students who are studying full-time in any of the polytechnics.

  • Students who are studying full-time subsidised undergraduate and postgraduate programmes in the autonomous universities.

  • Singapore Citizen students who are studying part-time subsidised undergraduate programmes in the autonomous universities.

How it works

The Tuition Fee Loan covers:

  • Up to 75% of subsidised fees payable by polytechnic students.

  • Up to 90% of the subsidised Singapore Citizen fees payable by university students.

The loan is tenable for the entire course duration. It is interest-free during the course of study, with interest only commencing upon graduation. The maximum loan repayment period is up to 10 years for loans taken at polytechnic level, and up to 20 years for loans taken at the university level.

How to apply

  • Students in Singapore Management University (SMU) can approach the institution.

  • Students in Nanyang Technological University (NTU) or National University of Singapore (NUS) can approach DBS or OCBC.

  • All other students can approach DBS.

Study Loan

Students who have taken up maximum of the Tuition Fee Loan, and with gross monthly per capita income of $2,700 or less, can apply for the Study Loan to finance the remaining fees.

Who is eligible

Diploma students who:

  • Are Singapore Citizens or Permanent Residents taking full-time diploma courses at local polytechnics.

  • Have taken up maximum loan under the Tuition Fee Loan scheme, or other loans and fee subsidies that cover up to 75% of tuition fees payable.

  • Have a gross monthly per capita income of $2,700 or less.

Undergraduate students who:

  • Are Singapore Citizens (SC), Permanent Residents (PR) or international students taking full-time subsidised undergraduate courses, or SCs taking part-time subsidised undergraduate courses.

  • Have taken up maximum loan under the Tuition Fee Loan scheme, or other loans and fee subsidies that cover up to 90% of tuition fees payable.

  • Have a gross monthly per capita income of $2,700 or less for SCs and PRs, or $1,200 or less for international students.

 

How it works

The Study Loan covers:

  • Up to 25% of subsidised fees payable and a living allowance loan of $2,000 per year for polytechnic students.

  • Up to 10% of the subsidised Singapore Citizen fees payable and a living allowance loan of $3,600 per year for university students.

The loan is tenable for the entire course duration.

  • For students with monthly household per capita income of $950 or less, the loan is interest-free.

  • For students with monthly household per capita income between $951 and $2,700, the loan is only interest-free during the course of study, with interest only commencing upon graduation.

For interest-bearing study loans, the maximum loan repayment period is up to 5 years for loans taken at polytechnic level, and up to 20 years for loans taken at the university level.

 

For interest-free study loans, the maximum loan repayment period is up to 2 years for loans taken at polytechnic level, and up to 5 years for loans taken at the university level.

How to apply

Students can approach the respective institutions for application.

https://www.moe.gov.sg/financial-matters/government-loan-schemes/study-loan

 
 
 
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