Attract foreign students to mitigate low birth rate

No matter the policies adopted, the birth rate in Singapore is not going to improve significantly.

The reason is that most people put more emphasis on quality of life.

People want to have their own time as it is a heavy responsibility to have children.

Nowadays, even some grandparents are prepared to take care of only the first grandchild but not subsequent grandchildren because they, too, want to have their own time.

The best option to solve the low Total Fertility Rate here is to attract foreign students with good results to study in Singapore universities or polytechnics.

To do so, we need to provide them with bursaries or scholarships. If not, the students from Asean countries may not be able to afford to study here.

Universities in Germany provide free education for foreigners, on the condition that the students must know German.

This kind of investment in foreign students is worthwhile as their home countries would have invested heavily in their primary and secondary education, and Singapore has to invest only in their tertiary education.

Through bonds, we will also get to recruit the cream of the crop to work and contribute to Singapore after their graduation.

Many of such students will end up staying here after building up their careers. Some may marry locals too.

It is important to continue to attract young and talented foreigners to be part of the Singapore team and contribute to the country's success.

Sim Lim Onn

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2017, with the headline 'Attract foreign students to mitigate low birth rate'. Print Edition | Subscribe