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University Fees in Singapore: Why Are They So D*** Expensive?

profileHui Juan Neo

If you’ve been keeping up with the news, you might know that the United States has launched a ‘Student Loan Forgiveness Plan’.

In short, this plan waives $10,000 in student loans for millions of former college students!

Source: Giphy

The country is expecting to spend around $2.4 billion per year just to offset college fees.

Truthfully, I’ve asked myself this question countless times throughout my Uni days and when I first started working as a fresh graduate

Why are university fees so expensive?

You might have guessed… inflation is the main driver.

But, how?

Let’s examine this closely.


TL;DR: How University Fees Are Determined in Singapore and What Can You Do to End the Cycle of Student Debt

Click here to jump:

Note: Tuition fees reflected are based on the fees for that cohort throughout the student’s entire candidature. If you’re eligible for any government or school bursaries, these fees are before the deduction of any bursary you receive.


University Fees in Singapore

Education is the core of Singapore and for most people, the pinnacle of our education journey is usually a university degree.

But, the thing is that these tuition fees are easily tens of thousands of dollars!

Like most people, I’ve taken up student loans when I was schooling and had to repay $28,000 before the interest kicked in.

In Singapore, autonomous university fees are subsidised by the government (i.e. Ministry of Education Tuition Grant) while private institutions are not, which covers as much as 90% of your undergraduate course.

You are eligible for Tuition Grant Scheme if you have not already taken any Tuition Grant or Singapore Government sponsorship to attain another equal or higher level qualification (including those that you have received for previous uncompleted courses if any).

Tuition Fees of Autonomous Universities

For the Academic Year 2022/2023, these are the tuition fees for a student going for a four-year programme:

Nanyang Technological University Tuition Fees

For international students on subsidised tuition fees and students of all nationalities on non-subsidised tuition fees, the fee amounts quoted are inclusive of the prevailing Goods and Services Tax (GST) of 7%.

Not to forget, there’ll be a GST hike in the next two years. The first increase from 1 Jan 2023, with GST going up from 7% to 8%.

Nanyang Technological University (AY22/23)Singapore CitizensPermanent ResidentsForeigners / International StudentsFees payable if not in receipt of MOE Tuition Grant (Lab Based)Fees payable if not in receipt of MOE Tuition Grant (Non-Lab Based)
All programmes (except those listed below)$33,000$46,200$70,600$134,800$128,400
Accountancy

Business

Accountancy & Business

Business & Computing

Business & Computer Engineering
$37,800$53,000$80,800$150,000
Medicine$140,000$197,800$302,000Not Applicable
Renaissance Engineering Programme$71,800$100,600$153,600Not Applicable

National University of Singapore Tuition Fees

National University of Singapore AY22/23Singapore CitizensPermanent ResidentsForeigners / International StudentsFees payable if not in receipt of MOE Tuition Grant (including GST)
Business$38,600$54,000$82,600$129,600
Business (Real Estate)$33,000$46,200$70,600$120,200
Computing$33,000$46,200$70,600$153,800
Dentistry$120,800$174,400$266,600$667,000
Design and Engineering$33,000$46,200$70,600$153,800
Design and Engineering (Built Environment)$33,000$46,200$70,600$120,200
Design and Engineering (Architecture, Landscape Architecture)$35,600$49,800$76,200$157,000
Humanities & Sciences$33,000$46,200$70,600$137,000
Law$50,800$71,000$108,600$153,800
Medicine (Nursing)$35,800$50,200 $76,600$149,000
Medicine$120,800$174,400$266,600$667,000
Music$58,800$85,200$130,200$512,400
Science (Pharmacy)$36,400$51,000 $77,800$153,200

Singapore Management University Tuition Fees

Singapore Management University (AY22/23)Singapore CitizensPermanent ResidentsForeigners / International StudentsFees payable if not in receipt of MOE Tuition Grant (Inclusive of GST)
Bachelor of Accountancy

Bachelor of Business Management

Bachelor of Science (Economics)

Bachelor of Science (Computing & Law)

Bachelor of Science (Computer Science)

Bachelor of Science (Information Systems)

Bachelor of Social Sciences
$46,000$64,200$98,400$179,800
Bachelor of Laws$50,800$71,000$108,600$190,040

Singapore Institute of Technology Tuition Fees

Singapore Institute of Technology (AY22/23)Singapore Citizens & Permanent ResidentsFees payable if not in receipt of MOE Tuition Grant (Inclusive of GST)
Accountancy$27,900$109,878
Hospitality Business$27,900$109,878
Air Transport Management$27,900$109,878
Digital Communications and Integrated Media$22,500$96,879
Aircraft Systems Engineering$22,500$96,879
Computer Engineering$22,500$96,879
Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering (Building Services)$22,500$96,879
Sustainable Infrastructure Engineering (Land)$22,500$96,879
Robotics Systems$30,000$129,172
Digital Supply Chain$22,500$96,879
Mechatronics Systems$43,320$159,088
Electrical Power Engineering$31,140$114,597
Mechanical Design and Manufacturing Engineering$31,140$114,597
Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering $31,140$114,597
Civil Engineering$31,140$114,597
Mechanical Engineering$31,140$114,597
Aerospace Engineering $31,140$114,597
Electronics and Data Engineering$41,520$152,796
Pharmaceutical Engineering$30,000$129,172
Food Technology$41,520$152,796
Chemical Engineering$41,520$152,796
Diagnostic Radiography$37,200$146,504
Occupational Therapy$37,200$146,504
Radiation Therapy$37,200$146,504
Dietetics and Nutrition$37,200$146,504
Speech and Language Therapy$37,200$146,504
Physiotherapy$37,200$146,504
Nursing$20,760$76,398
Computer Engineering$22,500$96,879
Information and Communications Technology (Information Security)$30,000$129,172
Information and Communications Technology (Software Engineering)$30,000$129,172
Digital Supply Chain$22,500$96,879
Applied Artificial Intelligence$22,500$96,879
Applied Computing (Fintech)$22,500$96,879
Digital Art and Animation$43,320$159,088
User Experience and Game Design$43,320$159,088
Computing Science$31,140$114,597
Computer Science in Interactive Media and Game Development$43,320$159,088
Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation$43,320$159,088

Singapore University of Social Sciences Tuition Fees

Singapore University of Social Sciences (AY22/23)Singapore CitizensPermanent ResidentsForeigners / International StudentsFees payable if not in receipt of MOE Tuition Grant (Inclusive of GST)
Accountancy$33,640$67,280$80,400$134,560
Business Analytics$30,000$62,880$75,200$125,760
Early Childhood Education$30,000$62,880$75,200$125,760
Finance$30,000$62,880$75,200$125,760
Marketing$30,000$62,880$75,200$125,760
Public Safety and Security$30,000$62,880Not Applicable
Social Work$30,000$62,880$75,200$125,760
Supply Chain Management$30,000$62,880$75,200$125,760

Singapore University of Technology and Design Tuition Fees

Singapore University of Technology and Design (AY22/23)Singapore CitizensPermanent ResidentsForeigners / International StudentsFees payable if not in receipt of MOE Tuition Grant (Inclusive of GST)
Per academic year$54,000$76,200$116,600$243,746

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Tuition Fees of Private Institutions

Fees for private universities tend to be higher, ranging from $50,000 to $60,000.

Curtin Singapore

Curtin UniversityLocal StudentsInternational Students
Bachelor of Commerce (Single major):

Accounting

Finance

International Business

Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Management

Marketing
$38,400$54,888
Bachelor of Commerce (Double major)
Accounting and Finance

Finance and Management

Finance and Marketing

Logistics and Supply Chain Management and Marketing

Management and Human Resource Management

Management and Marketing
$38,400$54,888
Bachelor of Communications (Top-up):

Journalism Communication and Marketing Specialisation

Journalism Communication and Web Media Specialisation

Web Media and Marketing Specialisation
$25,600$36,592
Bachelor of Computing (Cyber Security)

Bachelor of Information Technology

Bachelor of Science (Data Science)
$34,000$48,000
Bachelor of Science (Nursing) Conversion Program for Registered Nurses$20,400N.A.

James Cook University

James Cook UniversityDomestic FeesInternational Fees
Bachelor of Arts (Majoring in Psychology Studies)$60,096$62,664
Bachelor of Business

Bachelor of Business (Majoring in Business Intelligence and Information Systems)

Bachelor of Business (Majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management)

Bachelor of Business (Majoring in Human Resources Management)

Bachelor of Business (Majoring in International Business)

Bachelor of Business (Majoring in Management)

Bachelor of Business (Majoring in Marketing for the Digital Age)

Bachelor of Commerce

Bachelor of Commerce (Majoring in Accounting)

Bachelor of Commerce (Majoring in Banking and Finance)

Bachelor of Commerce (Majoring in Economics)

Bachelor of Commerce (Majoring in Financial Management)

Bachelor of Commerce (Majoring in International Trade)

Bachelor of Cybersecurity
$57,264$59,832
Bachelor of Business and Environmental Science

Bachelor of Business and Environmental Science (Majoring in Aquaculture)

Bachelor of Economics

Bachelor of Information Technology

Bachelor of Tourism, Hospitality and Events
$58,562$61,130
Bachelor of Early Childhood Education$62,744$64,884
Bachelor of Psychological Science

Bachelor of Science (Majoring in Aquaculture Science and Technology)

Bachelor of Science (Majoring in Data Science)

Bachelor of Science (Majoring in Internet of Things)
$60,096$62,664
Bachelor of Psychological Science (Honours)$25,852$26,730

SIM Global Education

SIM Global UniversityLocal StudentsInternational Students
Bachelor in International Business (Top-up)$19,709.40$20,865
Bachelor of Applied Science (Aviation) (Top-up)$35,247.94 to $41,353.36
Bachelor of Applied Science (Construction Management) (Honours) (Top-up)$25,038
Bachelor of Arts (Communication and Economics)$60,027 to $85,022.20 
Bachelor of Arts (Communication and International Trade)$60,027 to $85,022.20
Bachelor of Arts (Communication and Psychology)$60,027 to $85,022.20 
Bachelor of Arts (Communication and Sociology)$60,027 to $85,022.20
Bachelor of Arts (Communication)$35,310 to $74,472
Bachelor of Arts (Economics and International Trade)$60,027 to $85,022.20

Kaplan Singapore

Kaplan Singapore has a wide range of universities under its belt:

  • Murdoch University
  • Northumbria University
  • University of College Dublin
  • University of Sussex
  • University of Portsmouth
  • Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Monash University
  • RMIT
  • Birmingham City University

The tuition fees range from $20,000 to $30,000.

How Are University Fees Calculated?

While there’s no official breakdown of how university fees are calculated, there are expenses that cannot be avoided:

  • Salaries of both academic and non-academic staff
  • Scholarships for international students
  • Maintenance and purchase of high-tech and high-quality facilities
  • Administrative costs that go into admitting, enrolling, hiring faculty, providing financial aid etc.
  • Provision of amenities and upgrading them to improve the quality of campuses (e.g., libraries, computer labs, research centres and athletic facilities)
  • Accommodation – while students do pay to live on campuses, there are maintenance and administrative fees incurred so that students can live comfortably.

A university has multiple buildings filled with high-tech lecture halls, classroom or tuition rooms, club rooms, canteens and staff offices.

With so many facilities coupled with a high volume of usage, there will be frequent maintenance to ensure that things can run smoothly.

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How Inflation Affects Your Education

In 2016, The Straits Times reported that the cost of a four-year degree will cost 70.2% of an individual’s average yearly income in 2030, mainly due to rising operational costs.

It’s a hard pill to swallow, but yes, the cost of education has increased over the years, and the main contributory factor is inflation.

A small to moderate degree of inflation is typically observed in a rising economy, and that’s mostly acceptable. This is because, with economic growth, both company and consumer spending will increase. Therefore, when supply remains the same but demand rises, prices will rise.

In Singapore, inflation is measured in two ways:

  • Consumer Price Index (also known as Overall Inflation, Headline inflation or CPI-All Items) tracks the average price changes of a fixed bucket of goods and services over time (note: does not represent the actual prices)
  • Core Inflation – CPI-All Items minus accommodation costs and private transport costs, which are subject to short-term fluctuations

Education is tracked under the CPI, and it has increased by 72.13% over the last 20 years (58.46 in 2002 to 100.63 in 2021).

Hypothetically, if the tuition fee was $15,000 in 2012, it would be $25,819.50 in 2021!

However, it’s good to note that the Singapore population has grown over the last 20 years and the demand for education has also increased. A closer look over the last 10 years would show that the increment was slower, at 25.04% (80.48 in 2013 and 100.63 in 2021).

Let’s look at the actual course fee increment.

In 2011, NUS Humanities and Sciences faculty was $7,170, and in 2022, it became $8,250. The difference here is 15.06%, while the CPI-Education difference is 30.11%.

Source: Data extracted from the Department of Statistics

Interestingly, when we compared this with CPI-All Items (which represents the cost of living), we’ll see that the cost of education increases at a faster rate.

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What Is the Student Debt Situation in Singapore?

While there’s no official information on the number of students who took up student loans to fund their university education, just ask around and there would be at least one person who was on a student loan.

However, one should not forget that student debts are considered good debts as they will benefit you in the long run – it increases your future value or net worth.

By repaying regularly, you can also prove to the bank and financial institutions you’re making effort to improve your credit rating, and you’ll be able to receive approvals from banks and financial institutions for any new credit applications.

Read more:

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How To Get Out of Student Debt?

If you’re looking for ways to repay your debts quickly, you can learn from those who’ve managed to clear them in two years.

Similarly, you can do the following:

1. Apply for University Scholarships

Before applying to a local University, check out the various scholarship programmes that provide coverage for your tuition fees.

You’ll be surprised to know that there’re several bond-free programmes.

2. Apply For Government And School Bursaries

For Singaporean students from low to middle-income households, additional financial support is available in the form of government bursaries.

Previously known as the CCC/CDC bursary and MOE Bursary, the Higher Education Community Bursary and Higher Education Bursary cover up to 75% of subsidised general degree tuition fees for full-time undergraduates in autonomous universities.

With these bursaries, a full-time undergrad who qualifies for the highest bursary tier will pay tuition fees of $2,000 a year for general degree courses, down from $4,200 based on AY2019 fees.

Source: Gov.sg

Besides government bursaries, look out for bursaries specific to the schools you’re attending!

This includes hostel bursaries, financial schemes involving Community Service, overseas participation, bursaries administered by external organisations, as well as any student development funds.

Do note that bursary funds are usually released on a semester basis, and may be used to offset any tuition/compulsory miscellaneous fees that are still outstanding at the point of the bursary disbursement.

This means that all fees due to the University will be deducted from such funds prior to any crediting.

3. Work on Side Hustles

COVID-19 expedited digitalisation and we’re not short of side hustles that can be done quickly at home.

These are small steps to achieving the bigger goal and start early if you can.

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Afterthoughts

Besides giving you a headstart to a ‘higher’ salary (as compared to a non-experienced diploma holder), universities are places where you can network, work with students from around the world, and seek career advice while still being a student.

We know how hard adulting is, and being a student sure has its perks.

If you’ve always wondered why your parents were so adamant that you MUST get a degree, this is arguably the reason.

What are your thoughts?

Share them with us on the Seedly Community page!

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About Hui Juan Neo
Personal finance is almost everything in life and it starts from the smallest details. I'm a maven-connector and I enjoy sharing life and saving hacks!
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