Fee hike for international students and PRs attending local schools

Starting next year, fees for international students attending local secondary schools will rise to $800 a month. It is a far cry from 2009, when students from outside the region paid just $226 a month - and that included miscellaneous fees. It is a steep jump even from the $650 a month they currently pay.

Meanwhile, younger international pupils who attend local primary schools will have to pay $550 a month - up from the $500 a month they pay now. In 2009, such pupils were charged just $156 a month, including miscellaneous fees.

This latest revision of school fees is a move to further differentiate fees by citizenship, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said yesterday in a statement.

International students and permanent residents (PRs) will be paying more to attend local primary and secondary schools, as well as junior colleges and centralised institutes, from next year.

Fees for Singapore citizens remain unchanged. Primary school education is free for Singaporeans, while those in secondary schools and at the pre-university level pay $5 and $6 respectively.

Till a few years back, PRs paid only marginally more than Singapore citizens to attend local schools.

The gap has steadily widened and PRs attending secondary schools will have to pay $160 a month from next year, compared with $120 now.

Those attending local primary schools, who now pay $90 a month, will have to pay $110 a month from next year.

The MOE also said miscellaneous fees, which are used to defray the cost of teaching resources and materials used by students, will not change.

These fees, which apply to all students, including Singaporeans, are $6.50 at primary school, $10 for secondary school, and $13.50 at the pre-university level.

Fee hikes for non-Singaporeans go back to 2009, when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Government would sharpen the distinction between citizens and non-citizens, in a move to enhance the privileges of being a citizen.

Higher school fees were implemented in January 2011, and increased again in 2013.

About 9 per cent of students in national schools now are PRs, and 5 per cent are international students.

Their fees remain competitive even after the increase.

Yearly fees at the international schools here, such as Stamford American International School, range from $25,000 to $40,000.

Madam Zhang Yun Ying, 39, who has lived in Singapore for more than 10 years, now pays $500 each month for her Primary 2 daughter to go to Farrer Park Primary School. "$500 is already quite a lot, and I really hope the fees will not go up again in the future," said the housewife from China.

"I hope to apply for PR status for my family next year," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 01, 2015, with the headline 'Fee hike for international students and PRs attending local schools'. Print Edition | Subscribe