Singapore is among the most attractive countries in Southeast Asia to study abroad at.
Its universities are among the world’s best – for instance, the National University of Singapore retained its position as the world’s 25th best university and third in Asia in the latest 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, while Nanyang Technological University (NTU) moved up one place to the 47th position this year.
Well-respected universities aside, the rich and highly-developed island nation is also among the top financial centres in the world and attracts plenty of foreign talent. It can also feel — ahem — prohibitively expensive (Pro tip: Take public transportation whenever possible!).
So let’s get down to it — can you afford to study abroad in Singapore? Let’s take a look:
Tuition fees will vary depending on your programme and institution. For a rough idea, Singapore Management University’s tuition fees for foreign students are approximately SG$34,132.50 per academic year.
At NUS, the annual tuition fees for arts and social sciences programme will cost approximately SG$17,550 and SG$20,550 and SG$27,050 to study business or law; medicine and dentistry courses can set you back by almost SG$63,750.
Staying on-campus? Choosing a single or shared room will greatly impact your finances, with prices ranging anything from over SG$2,000 to SG$4,000 per semester. Bear in mind that many student accommodations or hostel fees may be reviewed and adjusted periodically.
If you’re looking for off-campus housing, HDB flats — or subsidised public housing for Singaporeans — are a viable option. They’re economically friendly when compared to condos. Renting a room in a HDB flat might cost you around SG$550 to $800 per month, depending on the location.
Meanwhile, rent for a 900 to 1,000 sq ft three bedroom condo can easily cost over SG$3,000 to SG$4,000 per month, but splitting the cost with your friends will make it less eye-watering. Check out rent portals for a rough idea of rental costs, and don’t hesitate to negotiate where possible for the best rates.
You can easily travel using Singapore’s MRT and LRT subway rail systems, buses and cabs. You can pay your bus, MRT and LRT fare using an EZ-Link card, a contactless smart card that costs SG$10 – SG$12 to purchase. Remember what we said before? Stick with public transportation — it’s been a personal experience that taxi fares can really add up.
Singapore is a food haven, but if you plan on eating out without burning a hole in your wallet, hawker centres or coffee shops are the way to go for affordable and tasty meals. You can find a variety of rice and noodle meals that cost less than SG$5 or SG$10.
You can also find student-friendly restaurants and cafes that offer discounts or student meals. Check out Seedly for discounts you may be eligible for.
Realistically, Singapore is one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, but you can still find plenty of things to do without breaking the bank.
For instance, you can swing by the Esplanade to shop, dine or catch some shows for free. Love nature? Soak in some fresh air at Coney Island Park where you can go for nature walks, try your hand at bird watching or cycle while basking in some sunshine.
You can also go bird-watching The Southern Ridges, a 10km stretch of green open spaces spanning the hills of some of Singapore’s most popular parks and gardens, connected by picturesque ridges and pathways.