Affordable way of getting recognised foreign degrees
More students from Singapore are opting to get Australian degrees through private institutions here, rather than going Down Under for tertiary education.
The high value of the Australian dollar in the last few years and the expansion of Australian offerings here have encouraged more to stay.
The number of students here studying for Australian degrees increased to 31,000 last year, up from 26,000 in 2010 Australian government , Australian government figures show. About 70 per cent are Singaporeans.
Australian universities make up the biggest proportion of foreign schools offering degree courses with private schools here, with more than 20 doing so now. These include James Cook, Curtin, Newcastle and Monash universities.
They are established players with more than 10 years of experience here and their degrees are well-recognised by employers.
Because of the credit exemptions, I did the degree in 18 months and at half the cost. I spent the final semester in one of RMIT's partner institutions in Germany.
MS SHAFEEQAH ABDUL TALIB, 22, who graduated last week with a business degree from RMIT University via the Singapore Institute of Management. Polytechnic diploma holders at SIM are given generous credit exemptions
Even though they have local partner institutions, some, including Newcastle and Murdoch universities, have their own deans and chief operating officers here. They also hire their own faculty here on top of flying in professors from the home country to conduct the programmes.
In recent years, the teaching staff have also started conducting research that is relevant to Singapore, and are even winning research grants from organisations here.
Mr Philip Green, the Australian High Commissioner to Singapore, said Australia's education providers are expanding their presence in Singapore beyond course delivery.
"Research collaboration between our two countries is increasingly a focus for universities such as the University of Adelaide, James Cook University (JCU) and the University of Newcastle," he said.
For instance, the University of Adelaide recently announced a new Asia Growth Research Centre, based at the Ngee Ann-Adelaide Education Centre in Singapore.
Most of those enrolled in Australian degree programmes here are polytechnic diploma holders who are attracted to this affordable way of getting a recognised foreign degree. Their tuition fees are, on average, 30 per cent to 40 per cent less than what they would be charged in Australia, due to lower costs here.
A polytechnic diploma holder studying for an Australian degree at the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) over two years would pay just over S$20,000 in fees. In Australia, it would cost double that.
Polytechnic diploma holders also like the fact that they are given generous credit exemptions, which enable them to graduate in two years, if not 18 months.
Ms Shafeeqah Abdul Talib, 22, who graduated last week with a business degree from RMIT University, said: "Because of the credit exemptions, I did the degree in 18 months and at half the cost. I spent the final semester in one of RMIT's partner institutions in Germany."
As the degree is well recognised by employers, she has already landed a job in a multinational company as a quality evaluator, she said.
RMIT has the biggest enrolment among Australian institutions at SIM, where it has run degree courses for 28 years, with 6,500 students now, up from 5,800 in 2010. It will soon offer engineering degree programmes at private school Kaplan.
In April, JCU Singapore became the first to win the EduTrust Star, the highest mark of quality awarded to a private school here.
JCU Singapore, which moved to a new campus in Sims Drive this year, opened in 2003 with just 38 students, but is likely to reach the 4,000 mark by the end of the year.
Dr Dale Anderson, deputy vice-chancellor and head of JCU Singapore, said its proportion of Singaporeans has grown from 25 per cent a few years ago to 38 per cent now.
"Singapore students go for quality," he said, noting that the school's faculty members here are all required to have at least a PhD and conduct research, similar to requirements on its home campus.
Its degrees follow the curriculum of JCU Queensland and students here take the same exams. Several programmes, including its psychology degree, are accredited by professional bodies in Singapore and Australia .
Perth-based Murdoch University, which offers degree programmes with Kaplan, has expanded its enrolment from 500 students in Singapore in 2005 to 4,500 now.
Its Singapore dean, Associate Professor Peter Waring, said it will be opening a research centre that will focus on issues relevant to Singapore, such as productivity, innovation, biosecurity and food security.
Newcastle University officials said its faculty members regularly take on Singapore-specific research. They recently completed a study on workplace safety and health in the construction industry, which provided valuable input to policymakers, academics, and professionals working in this area.