private university costs

Can’t Make It For A Local University? Does It Make Sense To Enroll Into A Private Education Institution?

2 min read

Quick Introduction To Private University Education in Singapore

Without diving too deep into the pros and cons of Singapore’s education system, here are a few fun facts.

  • The annual output of university graduates according to Singstat is at 15,510 graduates as of 2015.
  • 15,510 only accounts for graduates from local universities such as National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU),  Singapore Management University (SMU), Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).
  • For students in a private university education, a good estimation will be the population of SIM Global Education, which is one of the bigger private education institutions.
  • SIM Global Education has about 22,000 students.

Assuming that students population are spread out evenly throughout a three-year private university education, we are looking at about 7,000 private university students from SIM Global Education every year.

Taking the rest of the private education institutions into account, the annual output of graduates from private institutions may be on par with that of local universities.

Comparison of Starting Pay: Polytechnic vs Local Universities vs Private Universities

Based on a recent employment survey, below are the starting salaries for various institutions:

 Starting Pay
Fresh polytechnic graduatesS$2,517 per month
Fresh Local University GraduatesS$3,325 per month
Fresh Private University GraduatesTMC Academy: S$2,650 per month
SIM: S$2,600 per month
ERC Institute: S$2,550 per month

From the above, we can see that

The average pay for graduates from a private education institution is at S$2,600 per month.

Does It Make Economic Sense To Get A Private Degree Education?

  • The average cost of a degree is at $21,000.
  • The difference in starting salary between fresh polytechnic graduates and private university graduates is at S$83 per month.

Assuming constant salary, it will take about 253 months (21 years) of salary difference to cover the cost of a private degree education.

Unemployment Trend

degree unemployment trend 2011-2016The unemployment trend for degree and diploma holders have been increasing over the past 5 years! Word on the street is that a degree is the next ‘O’ level certificate.

Does It Still Make Sense To Go For A Private Degree?

While looking at short-term monetary rewards alone can be depressing, there are a lot more factors to consider.

Go For That Major Which You Love

Speaking from personal experience, I forgo a local university’s offer to settle for Economics and Finance with a private university.

Regardless of the salary, I will be drawing, I know that I will still be in a space which I feel strongly for. That, in my personal opinion, was more important. To not hate your job.

A Degree May Open More Doors

No doubt about the pay differences, there are certain jobs that prefer a degree education ultimately.

Hence, having that degree may pave way for an interview or a chance for recruitment.


Going to school is one of the best ways to meet new people.

Building genuine friendships could lead to a possibility of either being offered or recommended a job!

Further Reading: Advice From The Seedly Personal Finance Community

Alan Kor from the Seedly Personal Finance Community highlighted that our situation might not be that bad after all.


He mentioned that our median gross monthly income has been increasing over the past few years.

Jason Lee who graduated from SIM mentioned that while there might be added challenge when it comes to job applications, one should not feel demoralised. Instead, one should fire up his fighting spirit to prove the market wrong. He personally knows a lot of successful SIM students and some of them have already reach C suites.

Jay Tee who is a SIM-RMIT graduate thinks that it is more of the individual to decide on the pay. Having been work since he was 15-16, and even though his university days, Jay Tee believes that it helped him a lot in terms of being touch with what’s happening in the “real world” and facilitated his building of contacts instead of “starting fresh” when he graduated.

While there is no one-size-fits-all plan for everyone, an investment in knowledge is the best investment. This can be it through a form of degree education, or any other methods as long as one does not stop learning.

SHOW US SOME LOVE! If you like what you've read, join us on our personal finance journey on Facebook and Telegram!