Make it easier for students to use savings account

I applaud the Singapore Government's effort to establish the Post-Secondary Education Account (PSEA), which acts as a protected savings account that students can tap to pay for things like exchange programmes, enrichment courses and special curricula.

However, a savings account must be coupled with a good and easy mechanism for liquidising the funds.

Currently, if a student wants to withdraw funds to pay for a programme, he has to submit a form which would take approximately five to six weeks for the Ministry of Education (MOE) to process.

Furthermore, students generally are allowed to claim from the PSEA only after they have completed the programme, which means they have to fork out from their own savings first.

As a student, I hope policymakers will rethink these procedures.

The issue of liquidity is paramount.

Realistically speaking, many students do not have much savings; what savings we do have are needed to maintain a decent living in an expensive country like Singapore.

This leads to marginalisation of less well-off students when it comes to expensive programmes, such as exchange programmes and overseas field trips.

If the PSEA is to ease the financial burden of students for educational programmes, then the MOE needs to be more efficient in processing the requests made by students prior to embarking on the programmes.

Perhaps it could create an online platform for students to submit their requests.

This would be more environmentally friendly, would enable forms to reach MOE sooner and allow students to monitor the approval process.

Muhammad Idaffi Othman

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2016, with the headline 'Make it easier for students to use savings account'. Print Edition | Subscribe