Education Family Finances

The Cost of University in Singapore: Local v. Private Fees

bySherlyne Yong
  • Dec 17, 2021
  • 9 mins
  • 2.9K views

Education is a big deal in Singapore and for most people, their education journey culminates with a university degree. After all, it’s almost a prerequisite to have a university degree these days. But are you prepared for the cost of higher education in Singapore?

University fees vary between providers but it’s safe to say that most will cost you tens of thousands of dollars. This can take a toll on your finances, and it doesn’t help that university fees tend to increase every year. For this reason, it’s good to plan early. When you have a better idea of what to expect, the better prepared you’ll be.

Read on to find out how much university fees in Singapore may cost you and the funding options available, so that you and your family can start preparing for it financially.

Education is important to Singaporeans, and a University Degree is treated no differently.

When it comes to pursuing a university degree, you’ll find that people are generally partial to local universities. There are two reasons for this. First, employers in Singapore may recognise local degrees more, and second, Singaporeans enjoy cheaper course fees at local universities, thanks to subsidies like the MOE Tuition Grant.

In fact, subsidised university fees are a big moot point for most Singaporeans, with the MOE Tuition Grant potentially shaving off S$20,000 in course fees each year. However, note that the grant is only available for full-time undergraduate courses at the six local universities: NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTD, SIT and SUSS.

Course fees vary depending on the school and programme. Here’s what you can expect at the six local universities.

University Course Type of fees (annual or full course) Tuition Fees (S$)
National University of Singapore (NUS)

Business Annual fees 9,600
Dentistry 29,300
Humanities and Sciences 8,200
Full list of course fees can be found here.
Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Business Annual fees 9,400
Communication Studies 8,200
Medicine 34,700
Full list of course fees can be found here.
Singapore Management University (SMU) Business Annual fees 11,450
Law 12,650
Information Systems 11,450
Full list of course fees can be found here.
Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) Architecture  Annual fees 13,300
Design and AI 13,300
Full list of course fees can be found here.
Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) Accountancy Full course fees over 4 years 33,440 (~8,350/year)
Marketing 30,000 (~7,500/year)
Full list of course fees can be found here.
Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) Information and Communications Technology Full course fees over 4 years 30,000 (~7,500/year)
Computer Engineering Full course fees over 3 years 22,500 (~7,500/year)
Full list of course fees can be found here.

Unlike local universities which offer subsidised rates for local students, tuition fees at private universities tend to be higher. They also vary widely among the schools, depending on the degree provider and course of study. And if you’re considering studying abroad, it’s a different ball game altogether where it could cost up to S$46,000 for a year at the University of Melbourne, for example.

Here’s a sample of programmes and fees at the following private universities in Singapore:

University Course Full Course Fees (S$)
Kaplan Murdoch University
Bachelor of Business in Accounting and Finance 27,294 - 27,598
Bachelor of Communication in Global Media and Communication and Marketing 29,322 - 29,442
Northumbria University
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Business Management 22,363
Bachelor of Arts (Honours) Mass Communication with Public Relations 22,363
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology (Clinical Psychology) 30,966
Royal Holloway, University of London
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Management with Accounting 23,433
SIM Global Education (GE) University of London
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Accounting and Finance 23,000 - 33,900
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Banking and Finance 23,000 - 33,900
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Computer Science (Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence) 40,900
Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Data Science and Business Analytics 33,900
RMIT University
Bachelor of Business (Accountancy) 46,866
Bachelor of Business (Economics and Finance) 46,866
Bachelor of Business (Marketing) 46,866
University at Buffalo
Bachelor of Arts (Communication) 35,310 - 70,620
Bachelor of Arts (Communication and Economics) 60,027 - 80,625
Bachelor of Arts (Psychology and Sociology) 60,027 - 80,625
Bachelor of Arts (Economics and International Trade) 60,027 - 80,625
James Cook University Bachelor of Business 56,496
Bachelor of Commerce 56,496
Bachelor of Psychological Science 59,064
MDIS Leeds Beckett University
Bachelor of Science (Hons) Safety, Health and Environmental Management 33,170
Northumbria University
Bachelor of Science (Hons) Biomedical Science 29,960 - 45,475
University of Sunderland
Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Media, Culture and Communication 71,690
PSB Academy Edith Cowan University
Bachelor of Science (Cyber Security) 25,680
University Of Newcastle, Australia
Bachelor of Commerce 29,104 - 43,656
Bachelor of Information Technology 28,762 - 43,142
Bachelor of Communication 29,104 - 43,656

While tuition fees account for most of your university fees in Singapore, let’s not forget that there are other miscellaneous costs such as application fees, textbook costs, administration fees and student development fees. These can add up to become somewhat substantial too.

Here are some additional fees to factor into the cost of your education.

  • Course application fees: Most universities charge a fee when you apply for the programme. This could range from as little as S$10 at NUS to more than S$100 at the private universities.
  • Course materials: This includes study materials like a laptop, and textbooks that could come up to S$400 per semester alone. Of course, this varies according to course requirements. A little bit of resourcefulness (finding readings online, anybody?) could also help lower your costs!
  • Administrative and miscellaneous fees: This includes fees for student programs, infrastructure or even insurance, and usually costs a few hundred dollars each year.
  • Exchange programmes: Most local universities and some private universities allow you to spend a semester abroad. Depending on if this programme appeals to you and where you’re heading to, this could cost thousands at the least and go up to more than S$10,000.
  • Accommodation: If you’re planning to stay in a hostel at a local university, be prepared to shell out S$2,800 to S$5,500 per year at NUS or S$3,180 to S$7,260 at NTU.
  • Daily expenses: Don’t forget about expenses like transportation and your meals, which could easily add up to S$1,000 or more each month.
Besides the costs of accommodation and tuition, there are other miscellaneous costs of a tertiary education.

By now, you would have realised that university fees in Singapore can be pretty hefty. But don’t let that stop you from pursuing your studies or shying away from a programme that you are interested in.

If you need help with financing the cost of university in Singapore, here are a few options that can help ease the burden.

Financial aids and bursaries

Consider approaching your university’s financial aid unit or applying for bursaries from the government or non-profit organisations to help defray the cost of your education in Singapore. Most of these are subject to income requirements, but the great thing is that they don’t require repayment, though some may involve a work bond.

Some options include:

  • Higher Education Community Bursary: Formerly known as the CDC/CCC-University Bursary, this bursary provides Singaporean students from low-income families amounts of up to S$6,200 annually.

  • Higher Education Bursary: Formerly known as the MOE Bursary, Singaporean students from low to medium income families can apply for this to receive an annual bursary amount of up to S$3,200.

  • The Ngee Ann Kongsi Tertiary Awards: A study award of up to S$7,000 is available to Teochew students who meet the financial and academic requirements.

  • Donated bursaries and grants: Most schools will have their own set of donated bursaries by their faculties or external partners. This includes NUS, NTU, SMU, SIT and SUTD. Students at SIM GE can also apply for a bursary by the school.​

If you’re eligible for financial aid, it’s best to get started early as applying for these takes time, especially if you’re applying for more than one bursary.

Scholarships

Scholarships can pay for a portion, or all, of your tuition fees. Some even come with a monthly allowance and pay for your overseas exchange. In return, you may have to serve a bond with the organisation providing the scholarship.

Some examples include:

Education loans

If all the options above don’t work, you can get an education loan to finance your university education.

The MOE Tuition Fee Loan is a great option if you’re planning to study in a local university, as it subsidises up to 90% of the fees payable and is interest-free during your course of study.

You can also supplement it with the CPF Education Loan Scheme, which entails borrowing your parent’s CPF Ordinary Account (OA) savings to pay for up to 100% of your university fees. However, you’ll have to start repaying the education loan one year after you graduate and it is applicable only to full-time, subsidised courses at NUS, NTU, SMU, SUSS, SUTD, Lasalle College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA).

If you are planning to enrol in a private university, you may have to explore education loans from banks like DBS or FRANK by OCBC instead.

Alternatively, consider getting a part-time job or taking a gap year to work and build up your university funds.

It's normal to want the best for your child's education, but not at the expense of yourself.

To manage the costs of your child’s education, it’s best to start saving as early as you can and tap on saving and investment products like Income’s Gro Saver Flex to grow your child’s university education fund.

While it’s normal to want the best for your child, including their education, it’s prudent not to do so at the expense of your own retirement. Start your financial planning early so you can balance both your child’s needs and your own. This way, you’ll have a better idea of what you can afford, and a longer runway to reach your goals - whether it is a comfortable retirement or sending your children to university.

If you find that you have to choose between the two, consider prioritising your retirement instead. As shared above, there are many funding options that can help finance your child’s university fees. But can the same be said about your retirement funds? Not really.

And if you need another reason to prioritise your retirement, here’s one. By doing so, you’ll give your children the best gift - the freedom to prioritise their own future.

University fees in Singapore can be a huge financial commitment. But instead of letting cost limit your options, plan ahead and prepare yourself financially so you have the freedom of choice.

Save early, plan for the fees involved, and take advantage of the funding options available, and you may find that the cost of university in Singapore is that much manageable after all.

Find out how you can save for your university education with our savings and investment plans, or speak to one of our friendly advisors if you’re a parent looking to balance your child’s education needs with your own retirement.

Important Notes:

This article is meant purely for informational purposes and should not be relied upon as financial advice. The precise terms, conditions and exclusions of any Income products mentioned are specified in their respective policy contracts. For customised advice to suit your specific needs, consult an Income insurance advisor. This advertisement has not been reviewed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

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