Edit 1: After an IB page criticized the calculations done in this post, I did another series of calculations (in post-edit 1 and 2 below), but the numbers do not add up. But the estimations in this post are based on the figures given by the government. I will look at the numbers again and update.
The Singapore government revealed today that it gives S$130 million in scholarships every year to international students.
In 2017, the government also claimed that international students made up not more than 15% of the undergraduate intake at publicly-funded universities. I assume in this analysis the same proportion across all school levels.
I am not sure if the fees collected by MOE include those of the polytechnics, but for the benefit of the doubt, let’s say they do not.
In 2018, the government would have collected S$1,778,034,728 in university, polytechnic and school fees.
If the fees are divided equally, Singapore residents would have paid for about 85% of the fees and international students would have paid for about 15% of the fees, based on the student intake figures. However, since international students pay about twice as much in fees, they would be paying for 15% × 2 = 30%.
In other words, international students comprised about 15% of the student intake but would account for about 26% of the fees (30% ÷ 115%).
A rough estimate of how much international students would have paid in fees would therefore be: S$1,778,034,728 × 26% = S$463,835,146.
Therefore, the S$130 million in scholarships given to international students would cover for about 28% of their fees (S$130 million ÷ S$464 million).
However, it was also revealed in 2014 that the government also gives tuition grants of S$210 million a year to international students.
Therefore, the government is giving a total of S$340 million a year to international students (S$130 million + S$210 million), at least.
This would mean that the government is paying for 73% of the fees for international students (S$340 million ÷ S$464 million).
And this means that international students are paying only S$123.8 million (S$464 million – S$340 million).
Meanwhile, Singapore residents would be paying a total of S$1,314,199,582 or S$1.314 billion, or more than 10 times more that of international students.
Given that there is a 85:15 ratio between Singapore residents and international students, this would still mean that on average, Singapore residents are paying twice as much as international students for university and school fees per person, after deducting for the scholarships and tuition grants paid for by the government, for international students.
In other words, international students are only paying half of what Singapore residents have to pay.
And this is not including what other funds the government is providing to international students.
As such, the Singapore PAP government makes Singaporeans pay for one of the most expensive university fees in the world, while the government subsidizes for about three-quarters of what international students have to pay:
Post-edit 1: If international students receive S$210 million for tuition grants on an annual basis, and they comprise 15% of the student population, then Singapore residents which comprise 85% of the student population should be receiving 5.67 times the amount, or S$1,190 million. But since Singapore residents receive about twice as much in tuition grants, then this amount should be S$2,380 million. But this cannot be possible, since Singapore residents, based on the calculations above, pay S$1,314 million in fees.
The logical conclusion would be that the 15% international population that the government claims is untrue, and that the international population would be higher than it is. As The Online Citizen reported previously, international reports have put the proportion of international students to be as high as 30%, and not the 15% the government reported.
Post-edit 2: Also, if you add up the S$130 million given out in scholarships to international students and S$210 million in tuition grants given to international students, this amounts to S$340 million or 19% of the total fees I’ve calculated here (assuming there is no double-counting). However, the government reports only 15% of the student intake which are international students.
I will have to take a deeper look and update again.
Post-edit 3: To be clear, this post does not advocate for inequality between the student populations. On the contrary, I believe education is a public good that should be accessible to all. It should be free (as in the Nordic countries and some other countries), or priced much cheaply. Note that Singapore has the GDP per capita to support this too, it having one of the highest GDP per capita in the world. As it is, Singaporeans pay for the 5th most expensive university fees in the world, even after adjusting for purchasing power parity:
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