Fall in Aussie dollar revives interest of Singaporeans to study there

The high value of the Australian dollar in the last few years and the expansion of university places in local institutions have led to fewer Singaporeans going there to study.

But with the recent decline of the Australian dollar, student recruiters expect the numbers to pick up.

Australian government figures showed that 7,300 Singaporeans enrolled in the 39 Australian universities at all levels last year. Just three years before that, the number stood at about 8,000.

University officials attribute the dip to more places being made available in Singapore, the strong Australian dollar and high tuition fees and living costs in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, which draw Singaporeans.


Mr Bernard Khong, operations and business development manager with education consultancy AUG Student Services, said: "Tuition fees at top Australian universities are over $30,000 a year. If you add living expenses in a city like Sydney, it adds up to quite a bit."

"So the decline of the Australian dollar has come as a relief. We are already seeing more inquiries and more students coming to our Australian education fairs and talks."

In recent years, his firm has seen more Singaporeans heading to Australia to study medicine, dentistry and health science-related courses, such as speech therapy and occupational therapy.

National serviceman Philip Lim, 20, who hopes to study medicine at one of the Group of Eight universities - a coalition of leading Australian universities - said the draw for him is the reputation of the institutions and the Australian lifestyle.

"Australians are hardy, tough people. But they also know how to enjoy life. Having said that, what made up my mind to go to Australia instead of Britain was the drop in the Australian dollar," Mr Lim said.

Australian High Commissioner Philip Green said that Australia remains the largest destination for Singaporeans studying abroad. He said: "We warmly welcome this, and appreciate the confidence that so many Singaporean families have in Australia and its universities."

When asked about the dip in recent years, he said: "In fact, the number of Singaporeans studying in Australia held up well during the period when the Australian dollar was high. Now that the dollar has returned to a lower level, I hope that more Singaporean families will look again at Australian education - now roughly 20 per cent cheaper than it was a year ago."

Chinese students form the largest group in 250,000 international students enrolled in Australian universities. Singapore students make up the seventh-largest group.

Sandra Davie

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2015, with the headline 'Fall in Aussie dollar revives interest of Singaporeans to study there'. Print Edition | Subscribe