With bursary amounts set to increase next year, most needy students in universities and polytechnics will benefit from the discount of a large portion of their tuition fees.
Currently, financially underprivileged polytechnic students from the lowest 20% of household income groups are paying $550 of the $2,900 annual fees. With the additional bursaries, these students will be looking at only $150 for the yearly tuition fees. A total of 33,000 polytechnic students are expected to benefit from the bursaries.
As for university students, the higher bursaries will see needy students paying only $2,000 annually as compared to the current tuition fee of $4,200. This reduction will be more than three quarters of the full fee of $8,200 for a general degree.
The bottom 20% of financially disadvantaged medical and dentistry undergraduates in the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) will also enjoy increased bursaries by having to pay only $5,000 in tuition fee of the full fees of $28,900 for NUS and $34,700 for NTU. A total of around 21,000 undergraduates are expected to benefit from the bursaries.
In relieving the financial burden of needy students, the government’s spending on the additional bursaries will increase from $123 million to $167 million.
Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, who spoke on the increased bursary quantums mentioned that as more students are entering polytechnics and universities, bursary amounts must be enhanced to aid students from lower-income households. For instance, today, 52% of students from the bottom 30 per cent of households are able to make it to polytechnics. This is a drastic improvement compared to the mere 38% 15 years ago. As for university students, the percentage has risen from 13% to 21%.
Tuition fees at the tertiary level has already been heavily subsidised with as much as 75% for all university student. But Minister Ong believes that there is more to be done as the past 15 years has seen an increase in cohort participation rate for universities. As more students from modest backgrounds are entering autonomous universities and polytechnics, there government must step in to help the students.
Universities and polytechnics are institutions that host Singaporeans of diverse backgrounds and thus, play a crucial role in social integration. In being a driving force of social mobility, education is an elevating power that pushes each generation to do better than its predecessor.
Bursaries allow lower-income groups to enjoy the fruits of education. Minister Ong firmly believes that there should be no economic impediment for families to work on their talents and upgrade their lives to ensure a brighter future for themselves.