2 public universities’ surplus for 1 year is 3 times Budget’s increase in education spending?

I refer to the article “Singapore Budget 2014: More help with education costs for lower and middle-income families” (Straits Times, Feb 21).

Budget: $147m increase in education spending?

It states that “For families with older children, help is also on the way in the form of enhanced bursaries for students attending institutes of higher learning.

More students will be able to qualify for bursaries, with the per capita monthly household income threshold being raised from $1,700 to $1,900. This will cover students from two-thirds of all Singaporean households, Mr Tharman said.

University undergraduates from the lowest one-third of households will also see their bursaries rise to $3,600 a year. Middle-income students will enjoy higher bursaries of $2,600 a year.

These will be on top of the loan schemes that help students to finance their university education.

Mr Tharman also said that polytechnic and Institute of Technical Education (ITE) students from middle-income households will get more support. ITE bursaries for lower-income students will be higher than their fees, helping them defray living expenses, he said.

These changes will together cost up to $147 million more each year.”

Why is university education so expensive?

Why is university education so expensive in Singapore, relative to other Asean and Asian countries?

Why is university tuition fees’ inflation so high over the years?

1 university’s $302m surplus for the year? 

So, according to the National University of Singapore’s annual report 2013 – its surplus for the year was $302.2 million.

169% increase over previous year?

This was an increase of a whopping 169 per cent from the surplus for the previous year (2012) of $112.2 million.

Why would a public university need to have such a huge surplus for the year?

2 universities’ surplus – $451m?

For NTU, its total surplus for the year was $148.8 million – an increase of 100.5 per cent from the previous year’s surplus of $74.2 million.

So, the total surplus for just 2 of our 6 public universities is $451 million.

Should universities operate on “no surplus” basis?

If public universities try to operate on a “no surplus” basis – would our university tuition fees be lower?

Surplus 3 times more than Budget’s increase in education spending?

By the way, this one year’s surplus for just 2 public universities is about 3 times more than the $147 million increase in education spending, announced in the Budget!

Total surpluses of all public universities?

Finally, if 2 public universities’ surplus for the year is $451 million – what is the total surplus for all the public universities?

Leong Sze Hian

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.