By Leong Sze Hian
I refer to the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Education Statistics Digest 2012.
Expenditure per ITE student: – 1% p.a. increase?
Government Recurrent Expenditure on Education per Student for ITE grew from $10,586 to $11,914, from 1997/98 to 2011/12.
This is an increase of just 0.9 per cent per annum over the last 14 years.
In contrast, inflation increased by about 1.94 per cent per annum over the same period.
So, does it mean that the real increase was negative, at about minus 1.0 per cent per annum?
As I understand that students in ITE, generally come from lower-income families, relative to university students, so why have we been spending less over the years in real terms?
Versus GDP growth 5.6%?
Since GDP grew by about 5.6 per cent per annum over the same period, why are we under-spending by so much on a relative basis, on ITE and University education?
Accumulate reserves & surpluses?
Has the accumulation of our huge reserves and Budget surpluses over the years, been at the expense of our post-secondary students?
Expenditure per University student: 0.4% p.a. increase?
Government Recurrent Expenditure on Education per Student for University was only marginally more than ITE, with real annual increase of only about 0.4 per cent over the same 14 years (from $15,125 to $20,805).
So, even the marginally higher spending on University students is lagging GDP growth by about 5.2 per cent per annum.
Tuition fees increase?
In this connection, I understand that university tuition fees have been increasing at an annualised nominal rate of about 4 per cent, or real rate of about 2 per cent historically.
In this regard, have we been pushing the financing burden to students relative to negative or low real growth in Government spending on ITE and University students?
I had thought we were only stingy in spending in areas like healthcare, which at 1.6 per cent of GDP in the previous year is perhaps the lowest in the world, but it appears now that we may have been stinging on post-secondary education spending too.
Expenditure on foreign scholars?
In this connection, I believe we have been spending more than $100 million a year on scholarships for foreign students to study in our public universities. (“Foreign scholars: Missing statistics?“, Feb 22, 2012)
(“How many foreign students paying full fees?“, Mar 7, 2012)