Fee hikes for non-S'porean students from next year

Pupils in the hall at Yu Neng Primary School.
Pupils in the hall at Yu Neng Primary School. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Revision part of periodic review and will further differentiate fees by citizenship: MOE

From next year, foreign residents and Singapore permanent residents will have to pay more to enrol their children in local schools.

The increase ranges from $20 to $60 per month for PRs, and $20 to $150 per month for international students at primary and secondary schools and pre-universities.

International students who are not from Asean countries will have to pay $1,300 a month next year to attend junior colleges and centralised institutes, up from $1,150 currently.

Fees for those in secondary schools will go up to $950 a month, from $800 currently. Those in primary schools will have to pay $600, or $50 more than the current rate.

In a statement yesterday, the Ministry of Education said the revision is part of a periodic review of school fees and will further differentiate them by citizenship.

Fees for Singaporean students remain unchanged.

This is not the first time school fees have increased for non-Singaporeans.

In 2009, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the Government would sharpen the distinction between citizens and non-citizens, so as to enhance the privileges of being a citizen.

Then, international students attending secondary schools, for instance, paid $226 a month including miscellaneous fees.

In 2009, younger children studying in primary schools were charged $156 a month, including miscellaneous fees.

The fee hikes, however, are unlikely to deter foreigners from working in Singapore, said Ms Annie Yap, managing director of human resource and recruitment firm AYP Group. This is because foreigners who wish to apply for a Dependant's Pass for their spouses or children have to earn a minimum income of $5,000 a month, she said. "This is just a very minor increase," said Ms Yap.

"School fees for foreigners in other countries like Australia are in thousands and the fees for permanent residents are not subsidised, unlike in Singapore."

For 44-year-old Briton Anna Gibbons, who drives an Uber taxi, the increase in school fees is "significant". The single parent has lived in Singapore for six years and has two children aged eight and 10 in Primary 2 and Primary 4, respectively, in Elias Park Primary School.

"I'm on a limited budget, so it's going to be a struggle but I'll just have to work around it," she said.

While foreign parents on lower budgets may be caught in a bind, the fee hike should not deter foreigners from coming here, and local school fees are still more affordable than fees in international schools, said Dr Yvonne McNulty, an associate lecturer at SIM University.

International schools can charge $15,000 to $30,000 per year for primary school. "What would deter foreigners is the ability to get a place in local schools... Gaining a place in a local school is getting more difficult for non-Singaporeans," said Dr McNulty.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 12, 2016, with the headline 'Fee hikes for non-S'porean students from next year'. Print Edition | Subscribe