On Thursday, 28 March, local universities announced an increase in their annual tuition fees starting this year for their medical and dentistry programs, reported Straits Times. In their article “Medicine, dentistry students see university fees rise but 90% of courses remain unchanged”, ST noted that while 90% of the courses offered by the six national universities this academic year will not have their fees increased, the remaining 10% will.
According to the report, the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) annual tuition fees for medical and dentistry courses have gone up by S$500 to S$28,900. This will only affect new students coming in at the next intake in August.
The same increase was noted at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) where the annual tuition fee a medical course is up by S$500 to S$34,700.
Other course fees that have seen an increase include music and courses offered at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT).
Annual fees for courses in arts and social sciences, business and computing will remain unchanged, said ST
The Ministry of Education (MOE) said in a statement that the government is committed to providing subsidies that will cover almost 75% of a student’s total cost of education. It said, “Adjustments will still be needed from time to time, but we have reached a good landing point.”
This was apparently decided on after consultation between MOE and the six universities, taking in to account the need to manage rising costs, minimise the impact on students, and ensure a high quality of education.
MOE also emphasised in their statement that it will collaborate with the universities to ensure that financial assistance is made available and that no deserving student will be denied a university education due to financial difficulties.
Now, a key point that ST left out in their report is that the S$500 increase in fees that were only for subsidised fees for Singaporean citizens. The increase in other fee categories were actually much higher.
Taking a look at NUS’s fee structure for the upcoming August 2019 intake, it appears that the fees for permanent residents (PR) and international students that qualify for subsidy and students who do not receive the MOE tuition grant at all have been raised by more than S$500.
For the medical and dentist courses at NUS, the fee for PRs increased by S$900 to S$39,550 while the fees for international students went up by S$1,050 to S$60,800 – these are for students who qualify for MOE’s grant.
The biggest increase, however, was for the full course fees for students who are not recipients of the MOE tuition grant – this went up by a whopping S$2,700, bringing the annual fee up to S$152,100.
The fee for NUS’s music programme also saw an increase of S$500, specifically for the fees quoted to Singaporean citizens who qualify for MOE’s subsidy. However, the fees for PRs who qualify for subsidy increased by S$700 while the same for international students went up by S$1,050.
Again, the biggest increase was seen in the annual fees for students who do to qualify to the MOE grant, which went up from S$113,150 to S$117,350 – an increase of S$4,200.
A similar rate of increase can be seen in NTU’s new medical course fees as well with annual fees increasing by $700 for PRs and S$1,050 for international students, bringing the total annual fee up to S$48,600 and S$74,250 respectively.
So really, the fee increase is much higher than ST’s report suggests since they didn’t take into account the total course fees in other categories. In fact, they didn’t even make clear that the increases they were talking about only applied to Singaporean citizens who are recipients of MOE’s tuition grant.
So is this lack of clarity on the part of ST considered ‘fake news’?