Foreigners’ school fees up, Singaporeans’ too?

July 16, 2012

By Leong Sze Hian

School fees for students who are permanent residents (PRs), international students in government and government-aided schools will go up from January 2013.

Fees will increase by $50 – $80 per month for students who are PRs and by $115 – $250 per month for international students.

According to the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Education Statistics Digest (ESD) 2011, the enrolment for Primary, Secondary and Pre-University schools, were 263,906, 214,388 and 32,420 respectively, in 2010.

Why increase Singaporean students’ fees too?

Since no statistics were given in the ESD on the breakdown of the enrolment numbers into Singaporeans, PRs and foreigners, if we assume that the number of PR students is similar to the resident population proportion of 15%, and the number of foreign students to be about 5%, the estimated additional revenue from:

– PR students due to the fee increase is $4,458,618 (15% of Primary x $50 increase + 15% of Secondary x $65 Increase + 15% of Pre-University x $80 Increase).

– Foreign students is $3,756,483 (5% of Primary x $135 Average Increase + 5% of Secondary x $152.50 Average Increase + 5% of Pre-University x $210 Average Increase).

This works out to an estimated total additional revenue of $8,215,101 ($4,458,618 from PRs + $3,756,483 from Foreigners).

This estimated additional revenue should be more than enough to offset the estimated revenue of $773,732 (Primary x $1 Increase + Secondary x $2 Increase + Pre-University x $2.50 Increase) from the revised miscellaneous fees increase by $1.00 at primary level, $2.00 at secondary level and $2.50 at pre-university level, for all students including Singaporeans.

This means that the estimated additional revenue from PRs and foreigners, may be about ten times ($8,215,101 divided by $773,732) that of the miscellaneous fees increase for all students.

$98 million more in revenue from school fees?

Since the above calculations are based on the increase in fees per month, MOE stands to collect, in one year, about $98,581,212 ($8,215,101 x 12 months) more from the fees increase for PR and foreigners.

This perhaps underscores the issue of the need to increase the miscellaneous fees from all students to collect about $9.3m, compared to the extra revenue of $98.6 million.

So, is it really necessary to increase the miscellaneous fees for Singaporeans too?

An increase in foreigners’ fees, but an increase for Singaporeans too?

Whilst the principle of further differentiating fees by citizenship is a valid one, why is it that when fees are increased (be it school fees, university fees, healthcare fees, etc), the fees for Singaporeans are also invariably raised?

Why not keep Singaporeans’ fees at the status quo, or better still, reduce them?

University fees increase

In connection with the previous point, university fees for Singaporeans were increased by 4 – 10% in 2010, 4 – 6% in 2011 and 4 – 6% in 2012.

Also, according to the Department of Statistics, the School and Miscellaneous Fees for Secondary Schools & Junior Colleges Price Index had already increased by 8.6% from 2009 to May 2012.


As the previous computed illustration on school fees indicates, so much more may be collected from increasing fees for PRs and foreigners, that it  does not make equitable economic sense for Singaporeans not to benefit from such increases, and indeed end up having to pay more too.

About the Author

Leong Sze Hian has served as the president of 4 professional bodies, honorary consul of 2 countries, an alumnus of Harvard University, authored 4 books, quoted over 1500 times in the media , has been a radio talkshow host, a newspaper daily columnist, Wharton Fellow, SEACeM Fellow, columnist for theonlinecitizen and Malaysiakini, executive producer of Ilo Ilo (40 international awards), Hotel Mumbai (associate producer), invited to speak more than 200 times in about 40 countries, CIFA advisory board member, founding advisor to the Financial Planning Associations of 2 countries. He has 3 Masters, 2 Bachelors degrees and 13 professional  qualifications.