Eligible Singaporeans enrolled in MOE-subsidised part-time undergraduate and diploma courses will benefit from enhancements to the MOE Bursary starting from Academic Year 2020 as part of MOE’s efforts to enhance the affordability of higher education for part-time students studying at publicly-funded Post-Secondary Education Institutions (PSEIs).
In a press release on Tuesday (17 December), the Ministry of Education (MOE) said it will introduce a new income tier for the bursary to strengthen its support for students from lower-income families.
Eligible students will also benefit from an increase in the annual bursary quanta to help defray their cost of continuing education.
Part-time undergraduates from lower-income households who qualify for the highest bursary tier will receive $2,500 annually instead of $1,350, while part-time diploma students from lower-income households who qualify for the highest bursary tier will receive $800 annually instead of $600.
According to the ministry, about 2,100 Singaporean part-time undergraduates and diploma students are expected to benefit from the bursary enhancements.
It is estimated that the Government will be investing a total of $2.8 million per annum for the part-time bursaries, up from the current $1.8 million.
The National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore University of Social Sciences, polytechnics and the National Institute of Early Childhood Development are part of the institutions.
These enhancements, together with the bursary enhancements for full-time students, were announced at National Day Rally 2019.
The government said it expects the move to provide greater support for Singaporeans in accessing a range of pathways to progress and pursue their aspirations, regardless of their financial background.
POFMA: MOE spends less on Singaporean students than on foreign students is untrue
The announcement of the increased bursary came in the midst of the correction order under the Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act (POFMA) filed against People Voices Party chief, Lim Tean over alleged false statements about MOE spending on Singaporean students.
The correction order that was issued on Monday (16 Dec), noted that contrary to Mr Lim’s assertion in his Facebook post on 12 December that “the total pot available to Singaporean students [is] $167 million compared to the $238 million that is spent on foreign students”, the Ministry of Education (MOE) spends “almost all” of its S$13 billion annual budget on Singaporean students.
“The $167M cited by Mr Lim refers only to bursaries for Singaporean tertiary students, and grossly understates MOE’s total spending on Singaporean citizens for education,” Factually wrote, adding that the S$238 million figure cited by Mr Lim for foreign students is “not comparable” to the S$167 million he had cited for Singaporean students.
“These statements imply that MOE spends less on Singaporean students than on foreign students,” according to the website.
Mr Lim’s statement was made in relation to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s announcement in his National Day Rally speech in Aug to “significantly” increase government bursaries from up to 50 per cent of general degree fees today to up to 75 per cent.
Noting that 6 in 10 students in Singapore’s polytechnics and universities are eligible for government bursaries, he said that the increased bursaries and lowered fees will not only benefit lower-income students, but will serve “many middle income students too”.
“Students in Government-funded diploma and degree programmes at ITE, NAFA, and LASALLE will also be covered,” noted Mr Lee.
Bursaries for students taking up Medicine in particular will be “significantly more generous” than those for other courses, as the course “has the highest course fees of all the university courses”, said Mr Lee.
The changes in fees and bursaries, he said, will apply to both existing and new students, starting the next academic year.