Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Thursday (22 August) that close to 55, 000 undergraduate and diploma students will be given the opportunity to gain from the Government’s enhanced bursary scheme. This scheme will be rolled out to student from the next academic year onwards.
The Minister noted that out of these 55, 000 students, nearly 30, 000 of them come from families with incomes at the 30th percentile and below.
MOE made this announcement following Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech where he said the Government would increase its spending on bursaries.
PM Lee mentioned that university undergraduates will receive more financial assistance, ranging from 50% to 75% for general degree fees. As for polytechnic students, their bursaries will be increased up to 95% of school fees, compared to the current 80%.
“The Government will be investing approximately S$44 million more per year for these enhancements, or a 36% increase from the S$123 million,” MOE noted in its press release.
Mr Ong explained that the S$44 million will be channelled to students with gross household income of S$9,000 or less, with bursaries largely benefitting families from the 30th percentile and below.
This basically mean that students coming from families in the lowest income bracket could pay fees as low as S$150 a year for polytechnic, from the current S$550. As for university undergraduates in this bracket, they will only be required to pay S$2, 000 a year from the current S$4, 200.
It is said that about 33, 000 diploma students and 21, 000 undergraduates will benefit from this enhanced bursary scheme, and this include students from the Institute for Technical Education (ITE), the National Institute of Early Childhood Development, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and Laselle College of the Arts.
If that is not all, two bursaries will also take on a new name to better reflect their intended use – The MOE Bursary will be called as the Higher Education Bursary and the CCC/CDC Bursary will be known as the Higher Education Community Bursary, said Mr Ong.
Medicine and Dentistry students to gain more bursaries
For students who registered for medicine and dentistry courses at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and National Technological University (NTU), they will also receive enhanced bursaries, as the Government will subsidise up to S$20, 7000 in school fees for these students. This means that those from the lowest income bracket will end up paying only S$5, 000 or less for their degree.
“Today, 11% of our medicine and dentistry students come from (households with incomes in the 30th percentile) and below. And we want to make sure of all them can have sufficient support,” the Minister said.
He added that this move will make sure that these students coming from lower-income families are not discouraged to study medicine and dentistry.
Although the fees for both these courses differ across the two universities, Mr Ong said that students will now pay the same fees. He also explained that the bursaries for students from medicine and dentistry are higher as they have to serve a bond by working in the public healthcare system upon graduation.
Reduced tuition fees for SIT and SUSS students
Students at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) who are taking full-time general courses will also pay reduced school fees.
As of now, the cost for a general course is S$7, 860 at SUSS and S$8, 190 at SIT. However, both fees will be brought down to S$7, 500, and 80% of SUSS students and 20% of SIT students are set to gain from this lower tuition fees.
Mr Ong explained that more than 80% of SIT students will not benefit from this reduced fees as they are studying in programmes with partner universities.
ITE graduates to be given opportunities to upgrade their skills
More opportunities for ITE graduates to upgrade their skills will also be given, with nearly 1, 700 students gaining from the increased number of upgrading pathways by 2030.
These opportunities include more seats for full-time and part-time Higher National Institute of Technical Education Certificate (NITEC) and diploma pathways, said the Education Minister. He also said that an addition 860 spots in the Higher NITEC programmes and 580 more places in ITE’s SkillsFuture Work-Study Diplomas will be given.
Right now, seven in 10 ITE graduates go on to upgrade themselves over the span of their careers, said Mr Ong.
Besides that, working adults will also be given 290 more seats in full-time polytechnic diploma programmes, “recognising their competencies gained through related work experience, in addition to academic grades”, MOE noted.