Singaporean shares experience of being forced to abandon a masters in a local university due to alleged subsidy removal

Singaporean shares experience of being forced to abandon a masters in a local university due to alleged subsidy removal

The leader of the People’s Voice party, Lim Tean, has raised doubts about the government’s sincerity in nurturing Singaporean talents.

This comes after certain Singaporeans complained about the lack of opportunities and being unable to pursue further studies due to high costs.

In a video published on Monday (26 Jun), Mr Lim shared the story of Sharon, a member of the PV, who aspired to pursue a Master in Engineering.

Mr Lim also introduced Sharon as PV’s “very promising candidate for the upcoming General Election.”

High costs forced Sharon to abandon local master’s course, and opt for an online MBA

Last year, Sharon wished to pursue a master’s course in engineering at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) as part of the government’s encouragement for all Singaporeans to enhance their skills.

However, when Sharon looked for the courses at NTU, she discovered that the subsidies for the courses she was interested in had been allegedly “taken off”.

The school fees for the particular course went from a few thousand dollars ballooned to around S$30,000.

I’m very shocked about that, in the end, I have to give up my choice. I went to do an online MBA (Master of Business Administration)instead.”

Sharon hopes that the Singaporean government, in collaboration with the people in power, will fight for more subsidies and redirect them toward local students instead of allocating them to foreign students.

Lim Tean: local students should not face any disadvantages

Mr Lim emphasized that local students should not face any disadvantages.

If we have a different government to the PAP, that government would be funding Singaporean talent like Sharon and not be spending $238 million a year on average funding foreign students.

He expressed his opinion that Singapore’s national resources should not be utilized to develop the talents of foreigners at the expense of Singaporeans.

Local student group recently demand transparency and urgent improvements in NTU’s financial aid system

While the precise reason for the removal of subsidies for the course Sharon planned to pursue remains unclear, her experience is certainly not an isolated case.

NTU Financial Aid Friends (NTU FNAF), a student-led campaign group, is actively advocating for transparency and improvements in the university’s financial aid system.

NTU FNAF has criticized NTU for its lack of transparency regarding application criteria and disbursement amounts for financial aid.

On 23 and 24 May, it compiled a list of seven major issues commonly faced by NTU students when applying for financial aid.

Alongside these issues, they proposed solutions and examined the school’s response to their suggestions.

They have also expressed concerns about the limited number of students receiving the NTU bursary each year.

Furthermore, the student group claims that the financial aid provided by NTU appears to be lower compared to other universities, and the eligibility criteria are unclear.

On 6 June, NTU responded to the student group’s statement and addressed the claim made by NTU FNAF that bursaries were often disbursed after school fees were due. The university maintained that their bursaries are indeed disbursed prior to the payment deadlines.

NTU also emphasized that they provide needs-based financial support through the NTU Bursary and 200 donor-funded bursaries, which are determined based on students’ gross monthly household per capita income.

However, the student group swiftly responded with further proof, citing an incident where a student received a late fee as they received the Higher Education Bursary after the tuition fee payment deadline had passed.

Furthermore, NTU FNAF highlighted the concern that NTU had combined the donor-funded bursaries with the NTU Bursary, urging the school to provide transparency regarding the number of NTU bursary recipients and the specific eligibility criteria for the bursary.

In a letter sent to alumni last year,  NTU wrote, “Each year, 1 in 3 students struggle to continue studying at the University. Without community support, they are more at risk of failing to earn a degree.”

The letter also noted that NTU provided close to 1,400 students with financial assistance in the Academic Year 2021/2022.

According to NTU’s annual report 2022, its endowment fund is S$2.75 billion, an increase of S$180 million from the previous year.

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