School's Out: How Singapore Keeps University Reserved for the Elites | Quecie - Part 4

School’s Out: How Singapore Keeps University Reserved for the Elites

Tough town to get by

The news is more dire if you look at how Singapore has been ranked among the top 10 most expensive countries in the world to obtain a university education, and Singapore also ranks among the top 10 in the world with the highest education to income cost ratio, or where the highest proportion of average salaries are spent on university tuition fees. In addition, ValuePenguin found that, “university tuition growth has significantly outpaced CPI [Consumer Price Index] growth [which] indicates that not only has education gotten more expensive over time, it has also gotten costlier than most of Singaporean consumers’ other needs like food and transportation.” While, “CPI has increased by roughly 24% since 2007,” average university tuition in Singapore “has increased by roughly 38% since 2007 and 10% since 2013.” This is in contrast with South Korea where the “cost of higher education has increased by only 8% since 2007 compared to a 22% increase in overall inflation.”

ICEF Monitor also noted that, as “there are not enough university spaces to meet local demand [therefore] an estimated 9% of Singapore’s secondary school-leavers go abroad to study.” According to the HSBC’s Value of Education report, “81% of respondents (higher than 77% global average) [said] they would consider sending their children abroad for university education,” but of those, “43% cannot afford it.” HSBC added that, “the percentage exceeds the global average of 34% and is the second highest,” for people who say they cannot afford. Moreover, “among those parents who have not yet saved anything towards the cost of their children’s university education, 42% [said] they did not have enough money left to do so after paying day-to-day bills.”

Yet the Singapore government seems to be restricting the access of Singaporean students to scholarships, on top of also restricting their access to public universities.

This knowledge of the government’s unwillingness to let more than 30 to 40 percent of Singaporeans be able to receive higher education comes on the heels of news last month that the government would be closing down four junior colleges (JC) and merging them with four others. There are 19 junior colleges in Singapore so the mergers would affect nearly half of them. Junior colleges are equivalent to senior high schools in America. Students go on to take the Cambridge A Level examinations or International Baccalaureate (IB) assessment at the end of their course, usually at the age of 18 or 19. Seven in ten A-Level students go on to study in local public universities.

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