Private universities in Singapore attracting more local By Ryan Huang, Channel NewsAsia 18 February 2009 2028 hrs SINGAPORE:
More Singaporeans are turning to private universities to save costs. They can obtain degrees from foreign universities with campuses in Singapore, or those that offer programmes through local institutions, at a fraction of the cost of studying overseas.
22-year-old Willard Tan, an undergraduate at East Asia Institute of Management, saves over S$50,000 a year by not choosing to study abroad.
"For me, I'm saving about five times the amount of money studying here, which can be utilised in this current economy," he said.
"We have seen an increase in local students' applications by more than 50 per cent over the past two years," said Lee Beng Choo, chief operating officer of PSB Academy.
Another advantage is that private universities offer a faster route to obtaining a degree. This is because these institutions give extra credits for previous study or work experience.
Some schools also said there is growing awareness of the value and options they offer and many students are keen to upgrade themselves during the economic downturn.
Andrew Chua, president, Association of Private Schools and Colleges Singapore, said: "Local students also see the advantage of continuing to be able to stay in Singapore. There are obviously some increases as working adults who have been retrenched take private education as an option for now, especially with all the government subsidies."
The TMC Education Group said it has seen a spike in the enrolment of local students from 2006 and most of the students are upgrading to a diploma or higher diploma course.
The upgrading trend is echoed by others such as James Cook University, which offers undergraduate and postgraduate studies.
At the same time, the number of students going overseas for tertiary education appears to be largely unaffected. Student recruitment agencies that Channel NewsAsia spoke to said there is still a strong demand.
The current downturn is one possible reason as the stronger Singapore dollar has made it cheaper for students to study in countries like Australia.
According to data from the US Embassy, student visa applications to the country have been steadily rising over the years. A constant demand is expected as students pursue courses which are not available in Singapore, such as Veterinary Science.
Industry players said they are keeping a close watch on the numbers as they believe the private education sector will only feel the full impact of the downturn in the second or third quarter of the year.