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Study in Singapore

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1. Country Overview

1. Country Overview

Singapore is a world famous country. It is the only City-State country of its kind in the world. The legendary leader and ex-Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew was behind the Singapore success story during his reign that lasted for more than two decades. Today Singapore is highly reputed as one o the leading knowledge-based developed economies in the world and also as a leading Education Destination for International Students from many countries.
Singapore is an island country off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula and is located approximately 137 kilometres north of the equator in the Southeast Asian region of the Asian continent. Comprising of the main island of Singapore and some 63 offshore islands, Singapore never fails to amaze and delight the millions of international tourists visiting each year. The main island has a total land area of 682 square km only!


  • Highly developed market-based economy
  • Along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, Singapore is one of the “Four Asian Tigers”
  • Depends heavily on exports and refining imported goods, especially in manufacturing
  • Significant focus on exports of electronics, petroleum refining, chemicals, mechanical engineering and biomedical sciences
  • Has one of the busiest ports in the world
  • World’s fourth largest foreign exchange trading centre after London, New York and Tokyo
  • The World Bank ranks Singapore as the world’s top logistics hub.
  • Singapore’s economy has been ranked amongst the world’s ten most open, competitive and innovative
  • Rated as the most business-friendly economy in the world

Singapore is a hub of many Multinational companies.

2. Why Study in Singapore?

2. Why Study in Singapore?

TOP reasons to study in Singapore

  • The fifth wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP and per capita income
  • Unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world
  • Dynamic and high-spirited life and work culture
  • Truly, a cosmopolitan destination
  • 2nd safest country to study and work because of almost zero crime rate and stringent law and order policies
  • Dubbed as the “HUB of Business” in Asia
  • The large presence (7000) of almost every MNC having its Asia-Pacific Head Office in Singapore makes it easier for students to find jobs
  • Best highly developed nation with state-of-art transport system and 3G telecom network (second only to USA)
  • Processing for PR (Permanent Residency) takes only 71 Days.
  • Singapore is ideally located as the gateway to regional countries such as Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei & Thailand
  • All these countries are easily reached via ferry, train, plane or even coach with travel times being no longer than three hours
  • More than 50,000 International Students are already enrolled in Singapore pursuing education at various levels in different colleges and universities in Singapore
  • Many international students are attracted to the high quality of the Undergraduate and Postgraduate Programs offered by Singapore’s local Universities as well as International Universities based in Singapore.

3. Singapore Education System

3. Singapore Education System

Education in Singapore is based on a four-tier model:
Primary Education

  • Offered free and which is compulsory education
  • Starts at age seven and consists of 2 stages – a four year foundation stage (Primary 1 to 4), and a two year orientation stage (Primary 5 to 6)
  • At the end of Primary 6, students have to take the National Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE)
  • After clearing this stage, they are placed in the Secondary Schools according to their performance in the PSLE.

Secondary Education

  • Students are placed in different secondary education tracks or streams such as ‘Special’, ‘Express’, “Normal’ (Academic)”, or “Normal (Technical)”, based on their performance in the PSLE
  • ‘Special’ and ‘Express’ are four-year courses leading up to the Singapore-Cambridge GCE O’ Level examination
  • ‘Normal’ (Academic & Technical) is a four-year course leading up to a Normal-level (N-level) Exam, with the possibility of a fifth year followed by an O-level.

Pre-Tertiary Education

  • After completing 4 or 5-year Secondary School education, students (excluding IP students) participate in the annual Singaporean GCE ‘O’ Level
  • The results largely help determine which pre-universities or post-secondary institutions students may be eligible to apply for
  • Pre-university Centres include junior colleges for a two-year course or Millennia Institute for a three-year course
  • Both these two-year and three year courses lead up to GCE ‘A’ Level
  • These institutions (Pre-university Centres and Millennia Institute) emphasize on academics rather than professional technical education
  • Students who wish to pursue for a professional-centred diploma education go on to Post-secondary institutions such as the polytechnics and the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

Tertiary Education

  • After completion of two-year or three-year courses in Junior Colleges or Millennia Institute, students may go ahead to earn degrees awarded in the Universities.

Education in Polytechnics

  • Provides 3-year diploma courses
  • Students are accepted based on their GCE “O” level, GCE “A” level or Institute of Technical Education (ITE) results
  • A wide range of courses in various fields, including engineering, business studies, accountancy, tourism and hospitality management, mass communications, digital media and biotechnology, are offered by Polytechnics in Singapore
  • Specialized courses such as marine engineering, nautical studies, nursing, and optometry are also offered
  • Polytechnics in Singapore are highly popular because they provide a more industry-oriented education and as an alternative to junior colleges for post-secondary studies
  • Graduates of polytechnics with good grades have the option to continue to pursue further Tertiary Education at the universities
  • Many overseas universities, notably those in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom readily accept students graduating from Polytech Institute of Technical Education
  • The Institute of Technical Education (ITE) accepts students based on their GCE “O” level results and they provide 2-year courses leading to a locally recognised National ITE Certificate (NITEC).


  • Universities provide both undergraduate education and postgraduate education and grant academic degrees in a variety of subjects
  • Universities accept students after GCE “A” Level or diplomas from Polytechnics.

4. Costs

4. Costs

Tuition Fees
Annual Tuition Fees payable by International Students at the three different types of local universities are mentioned in Singapore Dollars (SGD) below.

Course Type
Non-laboratory based-Tuition Fee per year: Singapore $20,420 – $21,950 with a MOE Grant of $13,700.
If paid directly, the Fee is Singapore $6,720 -8,250

Course Type
Laboratory-based-Tuition Fee per year: Singapore $22,420 with a MOE Grant of Singapore $15,700. If paid directly, the Fee is Singapore $6,720

Course Level
PG Courses– Tuition Fees (Approx) Singapore $17,000 to 30,000 per year
Under Graduate Courses – Tuition Fees (Approx) Singapore $ 24,000 to 33,600 per year
POLYTECHNICS – Annual Tuition Fees (Approx) Singapore $ 12,652 (without MOE Grant). If paid directly, the Fee is Singapore $6,720

INTERNATIONAL BACCALAUREATE – Annual Tuition Fees (Approx) Singapore $21,000 to 42,000

The Ministry of Education (MOE) provides tuition grants to student enrolled at local universities and polytechnics. International students availing such tuition grants are required to work for three years upon graduation, either in a Singapore-registered company or institute overseas. A number of other scholarships are open to International Students. Selection is usually based on academic merit, leadership and co-curricular records. Besides this, there are other financial assistance schemes easily accessible to students.

Tuition Fee Loan Schemes
These Schemes provide a loan of up to 90 per cent of the subsidized tuition fees payable for a university students and up to 75 per cent of the subsidized tuition fees payable for a polytechnic student.

These are awarded purely based on the financial need and usually do not exceed SGD 1,500 per year.

Study Loans
Such loans are usually payable upon graduation by the student concerned to the lender at favourable interest rates. Some institutes offer loan for other expenses, such as computers and other learning accessories.

Living expenses
The cost of living in Singapore is significantly lower than that of developed countries such as Australia, UK and USA, even though Singapore offers a very high quality of life. An International Student in Singapore spends on an average about SGD (Singapore $) 750 to SGD 2,000 a month on living expenses. These expenses include accommodation, utilities, food, transport, clothing, telecommunications, books, medical and personal expenses, etc.

Singapore offers a wide choice of student accommodation to suit different budgets and needs. Student should make all accommodation arrangements before their arrival in Singapore. Temporary accommodation can be arranged giving student more time to settle, but this is strongly not advisable. Some of the housing options available include:

  • Residence halls
  • Private hostels
  • Home-stays
  • Public and private apartments/ houses


  • Rental varies depending on geographical area, demand, facilities provided and the number of people sharing.
  • Boarding fees cover lodging, meals, laundry, tutorials, pastoral guidance, 24-hour security, recreational facilities, orientation & development programmes.
  • Public housing refers to government-subsidised flats developed by the Housing and Development Board, commonly called the HDB flats.

5. Student life in Singapore

5. Student life in Singapore

The rich education culture of Singapore is designed to provide a holistic development environment for grooming students to meet the many challenges of life. The unique, yet highly effective teaching methodology ensures a positive build-up of attitude for learning that prepares students for university education. In such an enabling and empowering environment, students have the liberty to ask questions, discover oneself and seek the secure protective cover of knowledge gained. Students are supervised by a houseparent who is responsible for the welfare of each student. The colleges and boarding themselves are a home away from home, making the student feel at home and under good care.
Students study freely without facing any distractions. There are big play grounds in colleges where various amenities and an enriching lifestyle are accessible to all students. This allows them to fulfil their academic needs. The atmosphere being vibrant and friendly, bonds students to form new friendships and have a happy student life.
Sports are highly encouraged by the college administration and during the sporting season, students are grouped together to enjoy the sports week. Students actively take part in sports such as Cricket, Soccer, Basketball, Tennis, Chess, Swimming and many more.
Students get the opportunity to interact with the Guest Lecturers who are some of the most eminent industry leaders i Singapore and in the South Asian Region.

Singaporean cuisine is an example of the country’s diversity and cultural diffusion; with significant influences from British, Chinese, Indian, Malay, Tamil cuisine, and Indonesian cuisine. Typical Singaporean food includes the satay, nasi lemak, fish and chips and the famed Hainanese chicken rice. While there are fancy restaurants offering every kind of cuisine, there are also fast food chains, hawker centers where you can have a very satisfying meal for a few dollars. You can have Chinese noodles, with an Indian curry & a Malay side dish followed by a French dessert.

6. Application Procedure

6. Application Procedure

The Academic year begins in late July or early August, and ends in April. Institutions have only one Intake (July/August). In universities/polytechnics, deadlines are usually during December and January. Other private institutions do not have specific deadlines. However, it is recommended to apply at least 3 months before the course commencement date for smooth processing and avoiding any delays so that you don’t miss your first semester.

Document Checklist for Post-Graduate Courses

  • Statement of Purpose/Essay
  • Resume
  • Copy of first two and last two pages of Passport (valid passport)
  • Copy of IELTS Score Card (if applicable)
  • Class 10 Mark Sheet
  • Class 12 Mark Sheet
  • Bachelors individual semesters/year Mark Sheets (including backlogs)
  • Bachelors Provisional Certificate
  • 2 Recommendation Letters
  • Work Experience Letter (if applicable)
  • Any other certificates (if applicable) such as Birth Certificate

7. Visa guideline

7. Visa guideline

The Procedure

  • Students would first receive In-Principal Approval (IPA) upon approval of application
  • The IPA is sent in the form of a letter from the institution
  • The student has to pay a tuition deposit in the form of a Demand Draft as per the terms and conditions of the offer letter
  • The amount payable for filing the Student Pass application (payable to institution offering admission) varies from institute to institute
  • The institution will then issue a Letter of Acceptance
  • The IPA and the Letter of Acceptance from the institution would allow the student for a single journey to study in Singapore
  • Upon receiving offer letter from an institution for the applied course, a student has to apply for the Student Pass to enter Singapore.
  • Upon landing in Singapore, the student has to undergo Medical check-up at a hospital approved by Immigration
  • Student has to fix an E-appointment with the ICA to collect the Visa before he/she joins classes
  • This has to be done within 10 days of landing in Singapore
  • The student has to submit all original academic and financial documents to get the Student Visa at ICA.
  • Usually, the institution issuing the Offer Letter or the Letter of Acceptance, applies for the Student Pass on behalf of the student from the Singapore Immigration and Check Points Authority (ICA)
  • An application for the Student Pass has to be submitted to the ICA at least 2 months and not more than 6 months before the commencement date of the course

Documents to be submitted for filing of Visa Application

  • As all academic documents are already submitted to the institute at the time of admission, the student has to submit only the financial documents to file the Student Pass application
  • Acceptable financial documents (Set One) are:

Bank Statement
Loan Approval Letter
Fixed Deposits
Bank Balance certificate (Savings A/C)

  • Acceptable other documents (Set Two) are:

Proof of Funds
Tuition fees
Funds for living expenses for the 1st year of study

  • Generally, parents and siblings are the only acceptable sponsors for financial purposes
  • However, some private institutions are flexible regarding acceptable sponsors
  • Average living expenses per month are: SGD 700

8. Work Permits for Students

8. Work Permits for Students

Work while studying
Students are not allowed to work either during term period or vacation while studying in Singapore. However, students may be granted a Work Pass exemption under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Pass Exemptions) Notification during vacation.

Work during Vacation
An International Student is allowed to work during vacation if the student is registered as a full-time student in an institution approved by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). All institutions represented by SIEC Education are approved by the MOM.

Work after Graduation
After completion of studies in Singapore, student can apply for a Job Search Visa which is given for 6 months.
During this period the student is eligible to work full-time in any field until the student gets a job offer.

9. Frequently Asked Questions

9. Frequently Asked Questions