New poly and ITE students to pay more

While fees for the ITE's full-time Nitec courses will go up, those for the higher Nitec courses remain unchanged.
While fees for the ITE's full-time Nitec courses will go up, those for the higher Nitec courses remain unchanged.ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

Fees up by 3% to 7% next year but remain heavily subsidised by Govt, says ministry

Tuition fees for students entering the polytechnics and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) next year will go up by between 3 per cent and 7 per cent.

The new fees, posted on the institutions' websites yesterday, apply only to newcomers in the 2018 academic year.

Tuition fees for polytechnics and the ITE have been rising yearly in the past few years and, as with previous hikes, the increase will be bigger for permanent residents (PRs) and foreigners than citizens.

The Education Ministry told The Straits Times that the Government continues to subsidise heavily polytechnic and ITE education for Singaporeans - at about 85 per cent and over 90 per cent respectively.

Its spokesman said the higher fees are "to allow the polytechnics and ITE to continue to deliver a high-quality education to Singaporeans".

Singaporeans entering the five polytechnics next year will pay an annual tuition fee of $2,800, up from the $2,700 their seniors paid.

The polytechnic fees for PRs and international students will climb to $5,600 and $10,000 respectively, up by $200 and $400.

Fees for full-time ITE Nitec courses will go up by $20 for Singaporeans, while PRs and foreign students will pay $300 and $900 more respectively. Fees for the higher Nitec courses remain unchanged.

The ministry's spokesman said students who need help can approach the financial aid offices in the institutions.

RISING COSTS OF LIVING

A $100 increase is still manageable... but the price of everything keeps going up - textbooks, transport, food - so we have to work harder.

MADAM JUNE TAN, who has a Secondary 4 daughter.

She also said the ministry, with the institutions, "will ensure that financial assistance is available to students who need it, and that no deserving student is denied a polytechnic or ITE education due to financial difficulties".

Financial aid to help students defray their costs of living is also available, she added.

Government bursary amounts were raised this year. Polytechnic and ITE students can get up to $2,350 and $1,400 a year respectively, depending on household income.

"The household per capita income cut-off to qualify for the bursaries was also increased from $1,900 to $2,250 per month, which translates to a gross monthly household income of about $9,000 for a family of four," said the spokesman.

Parents and students interviewed said the fees are still affordable despite the hike, although they hope for more financial aid.

Mr Yong Kian Fatt, 56, said: "It wouldn't have too much impact on my family. My wife and I are still working. The fees are heavily subsidised compared with what foreign students pay."

The manager in facility management, who has a son in Secondary 4, added: "I believe the Government and self-help groups will provide bursaries, especially for needy families."

Madam June Tan, who has a Secondary 4 daughter, said: "A $100 increase is still manageable... but the price of everything keeps going up - textbooks, transport, food - so we have to work harder."

The 45-year-old, who runs an online clothing business, started being a GrabHitch driver this year to earn extra income.

Secondary 4 student Charlotte Lee, 16, who wants to study marine science and aquaculture at Republic Polytechnic next year, said the rise is "rather okay".

"But cumulatively, it can be a lot of money (for poorer families)," she said. "I'd still choose to go to a polytechnic because it is more hands-on. I think I'll do better in such a learning environment."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 12, 2017, with the headline 'New poly and ITE students to pay more'. Print Edition | Subscribe