Singapore is a multi-racial and a multi-religious nation. You will find a diverse population of Chinese, Malay, Indians, Eurasians and other races all living in harmony. This unusual synergistic mix of ethnic groups offers international students a wide spectrum of choices for fun and living in Singapore.

Entry and visa regulations

Once accepted by a university, applicants must apply within two weeks to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) for a Student’s Pass . The application is processed online.

  • Successful applicants will be issued with an in-principle approval (IPA) letter. Applicants need not apply for a separate visa as it is incorporated in the IPA letter, which can be used at entry checkpoints.
  • On arrival in Singapore, complete formalities on production of a range of documents including passport, disembarkation/embarkation card, and a medical report in the prescribed format (available on ICA’s website).

Singapore’s universities have demanding entry standards and are unlikely to accept anyone without good English.

  • For applicants whose mother tongue is not English, the individual universities will set their required IELTS/TOEFL scores.
  • Read more about English language tests.

The university system

Singapore’s two most prominent universities are highly regarded internationally.

The National University of Singapore, a global leader, is ranked 24th in the QS 2013–14 QS World University Rankings, making it the highest ranked Asian university. Of its other five national universities, Nanyang Technological University is also a fast-rising institution, reaching 41st in 2013–14.

  • These universities each have in excess of 30,000 students and provide a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes including doctoral degrees. Both are also established research universities with thousands of research staff and graduate students.
  • The government supports three other public institutions: the Singapore Management University offering programmes in business management, accountancy, economics, law and the social sciences; Singapore University of Technology and Design; and the Singapore Institute of Technology. Many private universities exist, including the SIM University which caters only for part-time students, offering part-time degree programmes to working adults, although plans are in train to add full-time degree programmes.
  • A number of foreign universities have established campuses in Singapore such as the Chicago Business School and Technische Universität München.
  • Applications for entry and visa formalities are handled by the university to which you are applying. Each university has minimum entry requirements.
  • The closing date for normal applications is in February of the year of entry.

Tuition fees and funding your study

Tuition fees vary widely between institutions and courses. At the NUS for the current year (2012–13) fees range from S$13,730 up to S$40,010 for medicine and dentistry.

  • International students can apply for a tuition grant which is administered by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and offered to all admitted students. Students who are approved for the tuition grants need only pay subsidised fees.
  • While the tuition grant is not repayable, international students who have received it are – in common with Singapore nationals – required to work in Singapore after graduation to contribute to repayment. The period of the employment bond is longer for international students than for nationals.
  • For medicine and dentistry students from overseas the service bond with the Singapore Ministry of Health is either for six years (medicine) or five years (dentistry). For other courses international students will be required to work for a Singapore-registered company for three years after graduation.

Student housing

The admitting university will help with finding accommodation but students are advised to arrange short-term accommodation in a hostel before leaving home.

  • Hostel fees range from S$12 a night upwards.
  • Long-term accommodation ranges from on-campus residencies to student hostels and private rented accommodation.

Typical costs in Singapore

  • Accommodation, halls of residence: S$155–S$800
  • Accommodation, private hostel: S$750
  • Accommodation, room in public housing: S$300–S$600
  • Accommodation, whole unit in public housing: S$1000–S$2000
  • Accommodation, room in private housing: S$800–S$1,200
  • Accommodation, whole unit in private housing: from $1,000
  • Food, street food: S$4 and upwards
  • Fast food meal (e.g. McDonalds): S$7
  • Coffee (e.g. Starbucks): S$6–S$7
  • Average restaurant, per person: S$20–S$40
  • Books and stationery: S$100 to S$200
  • Transport, concession travel on public buses: $52
  • Transport, concession travel on public trains: $45
  • Transport, concession travel on public buses and trains: $97
  • Cinema: S$10.00 a ticket
  • Beer (640ml bottle): S$5.50
  • Bottle of good quality red wine: S$34
  • Cigarettes: S$11.60 for a packet of 20
  • Haircut, men: S$$29
  • Toothpaste: S$3.23

Health and safety

Students entering Singapore are screened for TB and HIV. A medical certificate showing that neither condition is present is required before a student pass is issued.

  • Polyclinics are medical service providers whose fees are cheaper than private clinics. You can expect to pay about S$15 per visit. This includes medication, which you can pick up at the polyclinic on the same visit. Foreign students can see a doctor at any polyclinic, but must produce their Student’s Pass.
  • The crime rate is one of the lowest in the world. While petty crime such as pickpocketing and street theft occurs at airports, tourist destinations, hotels and on public transport, violent crime is rare.
  • Importation of large quantities of chewing gum is prohibited and you may be fined for failing to flush the loo. A large number of anti-social acts attract fines, and corporal punishment is sometimes imposed.
  • Drug laws are draconian – you risk arrest simply by being in the company of drug users – and trafficking in modest quantities of illegal drugs carries the death penalty.

Helpful links

International Rankings

University Rankings

University QS THE
Nanyang Technological University 41 76
National University of Singapore 24 26

Business School Rankings

Business School Financial Times The Economist Forbes International
Nanyang Business School 32 64
National University of Singapore Business School 36 92 9