More Singaporeans head to Australia, UK for studies as currency stays strong
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More Singaporeans head to Australia, UK for studies as currency stays strong

More Singaporeans head to Australia, UK for studies as currency stays strong

As the Singaporean dollar stayed strong against the Australian dollar and British pound over the last few years, more and more of the island country’s citizens gained the means to study abroad in the latter two countries.

According to The New Paper, overseas education has seen a steady rise in popularity in Singapore, despite the mushrooming of local tertiary education options.

Last year, more than 2,800 Singaporeans obtained student visas to Australia and 2,700 to the UK, IDP Singapore’s statistics show. The British Council’s data reveal in 2015, the number of Singaporean students enrolled in UK universities was almost double that of the 4,115 students enrolled in 2009.

Education consultants point to the strong exchange rate and short duration of courses as the reason behind the trend.

“A key reason for the current appeal of studying abroad is the strength of the Singaporean dollar, making overseas education more affordable than ever,” British Council director of education Shabir Aslam said.

In the past year, the Singaporean dollar appreciated against the British pound by nine percent. Last year, the Australian dollar was reported to have fallen to a seven-year low against the Singaporean dollar.

Together with international education, The Edge Markets reports Singaporeans were also investing in properties in the UK and Australia as these places grow more affordable for beneficiaries of the booming Asian tiger economy’s citizens.

Shorter courses, favourable visas

The ability to shave off the total duration of their course is also a big appeal to Singaporean students.

By giving credit exemptions based on students’ existing qualifications, such as their diploma, they can get up to one and a half years off their Bachelor’s degree programmes in Australian universities – a feat not possible in local universities.

Whereas for the UK, a shorter course length compared to other countries is made possible by the country’s education system. It takes only three years to gain a Bachelor’s degree with honours in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the same amount of time it would take to get a similar qualification in Singapore.

Favourable post-study options and culture matter, too.

Education consultancy IDP Singapore marketing and customer support manager Travis Kok says the Australian student visa is unique as it allows students 40 hours of part-time work while they pursue their studies. When they graduate, these students have the option to get a job in the country as well.

“Due to Australia’s large Asian population and international enrolment, Singaporean students do not need to adapt to the culture much,” Kok said.

Australia has a big Asian expat community. Source: Reuters/Steven Saphore.

“Australia is one of the few countries that allow international students who complete two years of education to stay on in the country to work.”

The students are also said to be keen on international work opportunities and make use of the school’s work placement programmes and industry networks.

And while having a big Asian community means Singaporean students heading Down Under would “not need to adapt to the culture much”, analysts say students stand to gain from being placed in a foreign environment.

Apart from developing independence and cross-cultural sensitivity, students can broaden their “perspectives and world view”, according to Kok.

“Studying abroad offers local students the opportunity to experience different cultures and develop a sense of independence,” Shabir said.

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