MOE: Only about 12 out of 1,700 foreign scholars are from India

It was reported that scholars from India under scholarships administered by MOE would be arriving in Singapore this month and next month. They are essentially scholarship holders of A*STAR Youth Scholarship and SIA Youth Scholarship. Some would be going to Sec 3 while others to pre-university 1.

On social media, many are wondering why the Singapore government keeps giving scholarships to foreign students and not helps our local students more.

With the social media buzzing on the matter, MOE came out with a statement on its Facebook page on Thursday (5 Dec) attempting to counter the negativity that were spilling online.

“There has been some discussion online and in messaging apps that MOE is recruiting only students from India through scholarships,” MOE wrote. It said that the government does provide a wide range of scholarships and financial aid, predominantly to Singaporeans.

“We also award a small number of scholarships to promising young international students from ASEAN countries, China and India. While here, they help promote goodwill and understanding among young people from different countries,” it explained.

MOE went on to say that “some” of these foreign students would eventually sink their roots here although it didn’t say how many. It said, “Over time, some have become PRs and citizens, sunk roots here, and contribute to Singapore.”

MOE disclosed that 0.9%, or close to 1%, of secondary and pre-university students are foreign students on scholarship.

“Only about 0.7% of these foreign students on scholarships are from India. So 0.7% of 0.9% – or 1 in 16,000 – are scholarship holders from India,” it said, and added that it would look into amending its websites, so as “not to give the impression that the scholarships only target students from a particular country”.

Foreign scholars provide a valuable global network of fans and friends who can speak up for Singapore

MOE further clarified the matter with Straits Times (ST) on Friday last week (6 Dec).

The nearly 1% of secondary and pre-university students, who are foreign scholars, constitutes more than 1,700 students. About 12 are Indian nationals, as reported by ST.

In total, MOE revealed that there are about 190,000 students in our secondary school and pre-university institutions presently.

“Our scholarships for international students bring about greater diversity in schools. This is important for the learning and development of our local students,” MOE told ST. “Our students have been receiving scholarships from overseas governments and institutions over the years as well. As a reputable education system, we need to be part of this international network.”

“Some of the international students eventually sink roots here,” MOE added. “However, even if they decide to leave Singapore, they provide a valuable global network of fans and friends who can speak up for Singapore, and forge collaborations with us.”

In 2018, MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, Mr Saktiandi Supaat asked the Minister for Home Affairs about the numbers of foreign students applying for permanent residency in the last ten years and the success rate.

Second Minister for Home Affairs,  Mrs Josephine Teo answered the MP, stating that 7,251 foreign students applied for Permanent Residency (PR) on their own merits from 2008 to 2017. Close to 82% or 5,932 have been granted Permanent Residency. Of these PRs, 1,072 or 18% have subsequently taken up citizenship as at the end of 2017. Eighty five or around 1% have renounced their PR. Mrs Teo declined to break down the nationality of students, stating that she does not have the detailed breakdown but noted that majority of the students are from Asia.

In any case, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung revealed in Parliament in Aug that MOE spends about S$238 million a year on scholarships and tuition grants for foreign students studying here. He assured that foreign students are admitted into institutes of higher learning on more stringent requirements only after “all Singaporean students who meet the standards have been admitted”.

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