We pay one of the most expensive university fees in the world while PAP subsidizes 3/4 of what international students have to pay

The Singapore government revealed today that it gives S$130 million in scholarships every year to international students.

In 2017, the government also claimed that international students made up not more than 15% of the undergraduate intake at publicly-funded universities. I assume in this analysis the same proportion across all school levels.

Last year, the respective university, polytechnic and schools fees collected were:

MOE: S$217,466,000
NUS: S$483,521,000
NTU: S$349,919,000
UniSIM: S$183,377,000
SMU: S$147,988,000
SIT: S$102,169,728
SUTD: S$34,493,000
SP: S$60,038,000
NP: S$54,129,000
NYP: S$52,403,000
TP: S$48,911,000
RP: S$43,620,000

Total: S$1,778,034,728

I am not sure if the fees collected by MOE include those of the polytechnics, but for the benefit of the doubt, let’s say they do not.

In 2018, the government would have collected S$1,778,034,728 in university, polytechnic and school fees.

If the fees are divided equally, Singapore residents would have paid for about 85% of the fees and international students would have paid for about 15% of the fees, based on the student intake figures. However, since international students pay about twice as much in fees, they would be paying for 15% × 2 = 30%.

In other words, international students comprised about 15% of the student intake but would account for about 26% of the fees (30% ÷ 115%).

A rough estimate of how much international students would have paid in fees would therefore be: S$1,778,034,728 × 26% = S$463,835,146.

Therefore, the S$130 million in scholarships given to international students would cover for about 28% of their fees (S$130 million ÷ S$464 million).

However, it was also revealed in 2014 that the government also gives tuition grants of S$210 million a year to international students.

Therefore, the government is giving a total of S$340 million a year to international students (S$130 million + S$210 million), at least.

This would mean that the government is paying for 73% of the fees for international students (S$340 million ÷ S$464 million).

And this means that international students are paying only S$123.8 million (S$464 million – S$340 million).

Meanwhile, Singapore residents would be paying a total of S$1,314,199,582 or S$1.314 billion, or more than 10 times more that of international students.

Given that there is a 85:15 ratio between Singapore residents and international students, this would still mean that on average, Singapore residents are paying twice as much as international students for university and school fees per person, after deducting for the scholarships and tuition grants paid for by the government, for international students.

In other words, international students are only paying half of what Singapore residents have to pay.

And this is not including what other funds the government is providing to international students.

As such, the Singapore PAP government makes Singaporeans pay for one of the most expensive university fees in the world, while the government subsidizes for about three-quarters of what international students have to pay:

In a previous analysis, I also calculated that the PAP government would give more than half of international scholarships while giving only 6% of Singaporeans scholarships:

Post-edit 1: If international students receive S$210 million for tuition grants on an annual basis, and they comprise 15% of the student population, then Singapore residents which comprise 85% of the student population should be receiving 5.67 times the amount, or S$1,190 million. But since Singapore residents receive about twice as much in tuition grants, then this amount should be S$2,380 million. But this cannot be possible, since Singapore residents, based on the calculations above, pay S$1,314 million in fees.

The logical conclusion would be that the 15% international population that the government claims is untrue, and that the international population would be higher than it is. As The Online Citizen reported previously, international reports have put the proportion of international students to be as high as 30%, and not the 15% the government reported.

Post-edit 2: Also, if you add up the S$130 million given out in scholarships to international students and S$210 million in tuition grants given to international students, this amounts to S$340 million or 19% of the total fees I’ve calculated here (assuming there is no double-counting). However, the government reports only 15% of the student intake which are international students.

I will have to take a deeper look and update again.

Post-edit 3: To be clear, this post does not advocate for inequality between the student populations. On the contrary, I believe education is a public good that should be accessible to all. It should be free (as in the Nordic countries and some other countries), or priced much cheaply. Note that Singapore has the GDP per capita to support this too, it having one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. As it is, Singaporeans pay for the 5th most expensive university fees in the world, even after adjusting for purchasing power parity:



Roy Ngerng





12 Responses to “We pay one of the most expensive university fees in the world while PAP subsidizes 3/4 of what international students have to pay”

  • TruBlu:

    BIGLY BENEFIT$ FOR FTs,taxes for daft sgs like whats wrong with colllecting more money and screw you since die die you still vote for us,the farker$?

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  • Sickman of SG:

    First came the parent who love the PaP soooooooooo much until their children get screw harder,Insert fear on to their children, when they grow up. When came a another generation vote for PaP again. The whole family become kapala buta, stamp with paP logo.

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  • Ya to support papaliens:

    yes, to help pap to support their alien beloved as they r more trustworthy to pap ministers n mps than singaporeans. They even trusted their life in the hand of foreigners as their bodyguards paid by singaporeans. Although was it Teo or one of the minister saying thry paid for their bodyguard n their airfares (meaning their official trips for private trips should logically paid by themselves. But if they mean private trips then they must have meant their private trips paid from the state fund sometimes in the past. The AGO owes the citizens thru its sworn oath of office the responsibility to confirm or refute what the ministers said. PM has the pbligation to singaporeans to identify Khaw or Heng has been lying sbout their medical treatment cost of their heart problem. If none is forthcoming, then singaporeans should not trust pap whose ministers do not trust singaporeans, police, soldier as their bodyguard n their lives.
    We need evidence n courage of ministers to tell the truth n accountable for what they ow can Singaporeans trust a govt which does not trust singaporeans? How can our forces defend the nation if the govt clearly do not trust them?
    Vote such untrustworthy ingrates out before the nation is raped beyond salvation!

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  • opposition dude:

    If you believe that international students comprise of only 15% of the intake then I will also tell you that unicorns live in Tibet.

    15% is something like our Malay population before the great foreign invasion, you won’t see a large group everywhere you go but you will see them a number of times a week in public. If you are studying in NUS or NTU it’s very easy to run into students you know aren’t Singaporeans. It wouldn’t be a big surprise if your classmates for whichever modules you are taking comprised of more than 15% who are non Singaporeans.

    I’m sure that the foreign student population in our universities is easily in the 30% bracket close to 40%. When the foreign contingent working here is already more than 40% together with PAP licking foreigners’ balls up and down you think it’s only 15% foreign students?

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  • Rabble-rouser:

    If pay one of the highest University tuition fees but end up:
    * driving Grab/Go-Jek;
    * becoming a career hawker; or
    * working gigs/short term contracts hoping to land a full-time job which never comes.
    Why study at all? Might as well take the money to travel the world, working odd jobs as you move from country to country. At least, you’ll learn more from your life experience than studying in a useless university environment. What I say, correct or not?

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  • Harder Truths:

    This is an FT-run island. Of course they will get all the jobs and subsidies.

    Locals only good as NSF slave labour and entertainer at Desker Road.

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  • vote OPPO and know truth:

    pap selected and INDIAN as malay jaga to ensure no truth comes out. more than this, the selection ensures lucrative positions in temasick gic go to buddies without proper procedure demanded by 70% sheep.

    to know the truth about where all the gains from 70% sheep has gone to, only an OPPO government with an OPPO selected jaga can reveal truth and about all the missing S$ of 70% sheep CPF.

    there is no other way.

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  • most uselss:

    High fees is to make money and subsidise FTs, so how?

    70% voted and happy.

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  • Unfair comparison:

    Hey Roy,

    Just wanted to point out how skewed is your comparison between Singapore resident school fee vs international students school fee. While you deduct scholarship and tuition grants from the $400m international student school fee, you have not adjust Singapore resident school fee by reducing $1,300m by the tuition grant and scholarship that Singapore resident received. Thus, it is not fair to conclude that Singapore resident pay ten times or two times more as the calculation is flawed.

    Please revise your calculation and show us the true picture whether if there really an issue here.


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  • HDB upgrading suicide:

    HDB upgrading cost owners thousand of dollars. To many, the question remains
    : Is it really subsidised or Pap new avenue of profits n draining out Singaporeans saving as they r now using a super pump to drain out the CPF thru the health insurance scam involving many having to come out with substantial cash to pay for the premium for the kids n retired parents. Perhaps only one is hopping gleefully n yelpinh ho ho ho all the way to buy debt ridden companies by pupular invitations n prospect of naming as super devil of power! Many oldies n jobless found this impossible to meet. no more saving! So a son n mother thought must as well die n give the whole apartment to the greedy ingrates they have voted to kill them instead of helping them to live happily.

    Some oldies r lamenting like HongKies of the good old colonial days who at least respect them n tried not to rob them like their own people. The orevailing power may think it despicable. Indeed it is not the oldies lament but the traitors among them. There is a limit to good things but also on evils. Tolerance should never be abused by any power regime. Greed can take the form of corruption but also can be self gratification like in absolute power.

    Mr Chiam See Tong Is right to keep on repeating

    All power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    But he lacked the courage to elaborate how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Perhaps he thought this is self explanatory n evidence is everywhere around them BUT he understimates the power of brainswashing, authoritative fakes n lies to numb the brain. Perhaps he was also incapacitated with SIN infamous street cliche Sue until your pents drop imbibed with the power of LHY/LWL belated revelation!

    Fake : Corruption can be bought with high pay. A legal record search will show low pay low corruption amt. High pay high corruption amt. So corruption amt is hooked to whether it is worthwhile relative to their pay. Are Singaporeans not feeling so stupid to have been hookwink with a fake rationale? No wonder LKY can’t control himself to tell the world Singaporeans r daft, stupid la not dove the peace birdies!

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  • NotMyProblem:

    I can’t understand why PAP hates Singaporeans!

    70%, do you have the answer? You voted for this, so you must know why!!

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  • HDB flats depreciate to ZERO:

    Local universities should put their courses and degrees online FREE for Singaporeans except for a nominal (small) fee for exams. Exams (mid-term and final) to be taken in person on campus to maintain high standards. Singapore should make full use of online learning – the future of education. This will also develop lifelong learning among Singaporeans

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