New SMU initiative to cover all tuition fees for needy Singaporean students

The Singapore Management University (SMU) campus at Bras Basah.
The Singapore Management University (SMU) campus at Bras Basah.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore Management University (SMU) will offer new grants and scholarships to ensure the tuition fees of financially needy Singaporean undergraduates are fully covered throughout their four years at SMU.

The new initiative, called SMU Access, is supported by an $8 million seed fund from local charity Quantedge Foundation, the university announced on Wednesday (March 1).

Eligibility for the grant component of SMU Access is based solely on the student's household economic circumstances, such as per capita income and housing type.

The scholarship component, called the Quantedge Foundation Scholarship, will be given to about 20 to 25 financially needy students with strong academic potential, conditional on them maintaining a cumulative GPA of at least 3 out of 4 each year. There is no cap on the total number of beneficiaries of the grant component.

Both awards are bond-free, and will benefit all eligible Singaporean students joining the university from August 2017.

Although SMU already has several bursaries for financially needy undergraduates, none of these offer full coverage of tuition fees.

SMU Access will be sustained with the help of government grants, SMU's funds, as well as gifts from external donors.

Recipients of the SMU Access grant and scholarship will receive up to $12,500 – depending on their course, and whether they are in receipt of other scholarships, bursaries or grants. If they are, SMU Access will cover the shortfall.

Said Quantedge Foundation board member Suhaimi Zainul-Abidin: "We are happy to partner and support SMU in its mission to guarantee financial aid to Singaporean students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. As Singapore progresses, it is important for society to continue providing equal access to quality higher education for everyone.

"Giving these students blanket assurance of full financial aid can go a long way towards this end. This will certainly lighten the burden on their families, improve education outcomes and enhance social mobility."

SMU president, Professor Arnoud De Meyer, said: "This initiative essentially guarantees that every SMU student who is eligible, regardless of GPA levels, will not have to eschew a university education for financial reasons."