1,600 foreign students on tuition grants annually over past 5 years
The number of international students in local universities that have received a tuition grant this academic year is expected to be similar to previous years, said Education Minister Lawrence Wong in Parliament yesterday.
Meanwhile, more places in the autonomous universities (AUs) were set aside this year for Singaporeans whose overseas study plans were disrupted by Covid-19.
Replying to queries from Mr Darryl David (Ang Mo Kio GRC) and Associate Professor Jamus Lim (Sengkang GRC), Mr Wong said the number of international students in AUs on tuition grants averaged 1,600 in each cohort over the past five years.
He said this makes up less than 10 per cent of each intake.
In a separate written reply on Monday to Mr Henry Kwek (Kebun Baru), Mr Wong said the AUs extended their application windows by two months this year in anticipation of higher demand from local students unable to go abroad.
Around 2,000 more offers were made to local applicants across a range of courses.
Mr Wong said AU places here are planned first and foremost for Singaporeans, in line with the cohort participation target of 40 per cent.
The bar for admission is then raised, and a small number of international students are admitted over and above locals.
Echoing what former Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said in Parliament last year, Mr Wong said: "As such, no Singaporean is displaced... because of an international student."
He said his ministry will continue to review the number of international students on tuition grants, taking into consideration the quality of applicants and other factors.
He also made a clear distinction between tuition grant holders and scholarship recipients.
Under the Tuition Grant Scheme, citizens are awarded the grant automatically without any bond obligations.
Permanent residents and foreign students must apply and, if approved, must work in a Singapore entity for three years after graduation.
Noting that recent graduates may face challenges finding a job in the current economic climate, Mr Wong said fair treatment will be given to tuition-grant holders obliged to serve the three-year bond, though the priority will still be to support locals. - KOK YUFENG