Are Expats Facing School Placement Woes in S’pore?

by Education Cube, posted on Apr 8, 2016

Are Expats Facing School Placement Woes in S’pore?
By Education Cube
8 Apr 2016

Expatriates sending their children to international schools in Singapore can expect to pay more than S$500,000 in school fees over the course of their child's education. According to the London-based Centre for Economics and Business Research, fees in Singapore are the second most expensive after the UK, and the cost has risen 23.2 per cent in the last five years up till 2015.

Latest Government figures as of January show that 79 per cent of students in international schools are foreigners. The rest are Permanent Residents (PRs) at 16 per cent and Singapore citizens with 5 per cent.

Dr Yvonne McNulty, an associate lecturer at RMIT University Singapore, noted that demand for local schools has increased, as more foreigners now do not enjoy benefits that cover housing and children's school fees.

However, a growing number are finding it tougher to secure local schools. School placement agents for foreign families said the situation is getting more difficult – there have been more requests for local schools but fewer successes. Dr McNulty estimates that two in three foreign students were unable to get into local schools last year.

About 9 per cent of all students in local schools are PRs, and 5 per cent are international students.

Parents on online expat forums have been wondering if more restrictions have been imposed on the number of foreign students in local schools, even as the expat population grows.

In addition, local school fees for PR and international students have been increased from this year. International students in local secondary schools, for example, will pay a much steeper S$800 a month in school fees.

With entry into local schools becoming harder, more expat parents are forced to still turn to international schools. These schools have seen greater interest from Asian expats in recent years, particularly from China, India, Thailand and the Philippines, even if some of them might prefer local schools as their first choice for affordability and academic rigour.

News Sources

79% of international school students are foreigners: MTI (CNA, 5 Apr 2016)

More expats find it tough to get kids into local schools (The Straits Times, 13 Mar 2016)

Rejected, so expat families turn to international schools (The Straits Times, 13 Mar 2016)

Cost to send child to international school in Singapore tops S$500,000: Report (CNA, 19 Nov 2015)

Fee hike for international students and PRs attending local schools (The Straits Times, 1 Oct 2015)

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