Admissions and Financial Aid

The days following the release of the GCE ‘A’ Level Results mark the traditional peak season for university applications. I thought it is timely for me to convey some key attributes of the NUS’s policies on admission, and on the related issues of tuition fees and financial aid.




Admission to the NUS is competitive. We receive over 30,000 applications annually, but we only have places for about 6,700 freshmen. Each application is assessed solely on merit. For certain courses, candidates are shortlisted for further assessments, and the Faculty considers each applicant’s achievements, aptitude and personal qualities in assessing the applicant’s suitability for the course and/or the profession.  An applicant’s family background, schooling history or financial circumstances will not have a bearing on the selection process. Essays are reviewed without reference to the applicant’s personal details; interviewers and selection panels do not have access to the candidate’s financial status.


The NUS also sets aside up to 10% of our places for Discretionary Admissions (DA). DA provides us with an avenue to consider applications from deserving students whose high school grades may not meet the entry requirements for admission into NUS, but have the potential to pursue an undergraduate education, and to contribute to the NUS community. For DA applicants, NUS will consider their contributions and achievements in other areas, beside academic grades.


DA students add diversity to our campus and this scheme has increased the opportunities for students with different talents, achievements and experiences to join the NUS community. Many DA students are faring well. Some years back, when I was Dean of the Faculty of Science, I admitted an applicant with weak A level results to the Faculty of Science. We noted something special about her. She had been giving tuition to support her family since she was in Secondary 3, as her father was then retrenched. Her tuition business expanded, and by the time she was in JC 2, she founded a thriving tuition centre. Her involvement in the tuition business was probably one of reasons why her A level grades had suffered. She was also actively involved in community work. In spite of her weak A level grades, she coped well academically at NUS, and was even admitted to the University Scholars Programme. Eventually, she graduated with a Second Upper Class Honours, and was selected as the valedictorian for her commencement ceremony. She is now pursuing a medical degree at the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School. I am thus grateful for the DA scheme, which has allowed me to give deserving students like her a chance to benefit from an NUS education.


An NUS education will remain affordable and accessible to all Singaporeans who qualify for admission


Some students have expressed concern that students from lower income families may be discouraged from pursuing a university education due to financial difficulties. I would like to take this opportunity to assure all existing and potential students, that NUS has in place, a robust financial aid framework to ensure that an NUS education remains affordable and accessible for all Singaporeans who are admitted to the university.


NUS is cognizant that society regards university education as an economic leveller and a means of social mobility. For many decades, an NUS degree is an aspiration of many Singaporean families. NUS counts many first generation graduates in each cohort. This is also true for the professional courses; each year, we train many first generation accountants, architects, dentists, doctors, engineers, lawyers and pharmacists. Although the income profile of NUS students does not exactly mirror that of the general national income profile, there is a substantial number of NUS students whose per capita household incomes are at the lowest quintile.


We remain committed to enabling needy and deserving students to pursue their university studies with us. Every needy Singaporean admitted to the NUS will have access to sufficient funds to meet the costs of undergraduate education. Students from middle-lower income families (this applies to about half of Singaporean households) will be able to obtain sufficient funds to meet the full costs of tuition and living expenses through a combination of bursaries and loans. 


Enhanced Financial Aid Framework – Helping the Needy


For AY2012/13, NUS will be extending even more help, especially to students whose families are in the lowest 20th percentile of per capita household income. As explained in my earlier circular to all students, NUS has conducted a comprehensive review of our financial aid schemes and we have made considerable enhancements. The key features of the enhanced financial framework are first, the annual bursary quanta for the neediest Singaporean students will increase from $4,750 to over $8,000.  This will significantly reduce the loan burden for students from very low income families, and more than 1,100 needy NUS students will benefit from this bursary increase. Second, the bursary quanta awarded will be more finely means-tested according to the student’s financial circumstances. The neediest students will receive more financial aid. This acknowledges the different circumstances that the neediest students with very low household incomes face. Third, eligible local students may receive more than one bursary, up to the maximum bursary quantum prescribed for their per capita household income. Fourth, needy Singaporean students participating in academic programmes such as the University Scholars Programme, Student Exchange Programmes, etc., will be provided with proportionately higher financial support. Overall, NUS will be increasing student financial aid by $4.5 million, which will bring overall student financial aid for AY2012/13 to $9.5 million.


Many students have expressed support for and welcome the enhanced Financial Aid Framework. NUS is also working hard at fund-raising, as philanthropic donations will allow us to expand the pool of funds available for financial aid. In the meantime, if you do know of any students who are struggling financially, please drop a note to, and we will look into every case closely. For some students, their family circumstances may change midway through their studies at NUS, and as a result, they may be encountering financial adversity; please encourage them to approach us.


  1. How is it that NUS can afford to give bond-free graduate scholarships by the dozens to non-Singaporeans every year and yet not have enough resources to help our needy undergrads?

    Something is wrong with the math here. I am not sure which is more important,: local undergrads or foreign graduates. Moreover, the fees of locals is highly subsidized by government grants, making it more affordable for NUS to support needy students. Foreigners who are not eligible for government grants need to pay almost 10k a semester.

    Correct me if I am wrong. These sponsorships indicate clearly that NUS has some deep pockets to help the needy. That is good and I applaud it. We can and should always do more but I can’t help but wonder which group of students are NUS’s main priority.

    1. The two key roles of a university are education and research. Research is less understood, but research is needed to feed innovation, particularly for a knowledge economy like Singapore. PhD students are critical for research, and all top research-intensive universities in the world provide bond-free scholarships for PhD students. I did my PhD at Yale, partly sponsored by a Yale scholarship.

      The government provides a budget for PhD scholarships at our local universities. Singaporeans get first priority for PhD scholarships. But the scholarship stipend (at $2,500 per month for locals) is not as attractive as the industry. Take Economics, for instance. In the last 5 years, we had less than 20 graduates who went away for PhD studies either locally or abroad (see #27), out of about 2,000 Economics graduates (i.e., less than 1% went for PhD!). So it is not a situation where we give away bond-free scholarships to non-Singaporeans. It is because we do not have enough qualified Singaporean graduates who want to pursue a PhD.

  2. This is not the article to talk about the Sun Xu incident. I guess we should actually applaud Mr Sun for daring to speak out on what is present in the minds’ of many.

    I think the student which the Provost was writing is a particularly good example of good examination. Instead of looking at aspects like community service and CCA, the Provost has looked at other aspects. This is actually good as CCA and community service activities which many other schools base their DA criteria on actually privileges the higher income.( As many of the lower income would be better spending their time on getting some income)

    Onwards to a more inclusive and successful NUS!

  3. to add on the Zhaosheng: if only 67% of foreign scholars are getting second-upper, then the scholarship money spend on the remaining 33% should be given to singaporeans (who are scoring second-upper and above) instead. why should singaporeans, who are scoring better than foreigners, have to take on part-time work to fund their university studies while these less-talented foreigners are getting our tax money?

    ZH: yeah, he can start another blog post to talk about the Sun Xu incident isn’t it? why has the provost kept quiet about this issue all this while?

  4. for the record: I think it is great to have diversity in the local universities. I have nothing against foreigners. If they are full-fee paying, I think that’s great, they bring in money to the university. If they are on scholarship, then they better be scoring better than the locals. 67% second upper and above is a miserable statistic.

  5. Passerby and Zhaosheng: If i do not understand it correctly, the scholarships are not just to bring in talent that is better than Singaporeans, they also have the implicit goal of increasing Singaporeans population( which the senior leadership has blamed on Singaporeans for not producing enough) and also helping us to maintain a good racial ratio and diverse environment. So, even if they do not fare well, they still achieve the goal. So as long as the foreign students do not fail their University course, they will still achieve the aim of the scholarships.

    1. “the senior leadership has blamed on Singaporeans for not producing enough”

      Leaving higher education aside, let’s talk money
      After 3-4 years of education, each non-scholar student is shouldering a debt of at least $24k
      Housing is approximately 300k- 400k for 30 years.
      Lets estimate that per couple they have to pay 500 a month (excludes CPF)

      And the average graduate income to be 2.5k to 2.8k a month (excludes CPF)
      For my case, the CPF advise me to return the education loan in 6 years which is about 400 a month.

      taking the bare minimum 2.5k
      this means 2500-400-250=1850
      Does that answer your question ?

      So as long as the foreign students do not fail their University course, they will still achieve the aim of the scholarships.
      As I understand the for scholarship holder they should hit above a certain score to continue receive their stipends and if only 67% of the scholars achieve 2nd upper and above, does it not mean that we have to change the criteria then?

      Even so, I was under the impression that all scholars have to achieve at least a 2nd upper if not these stipends would be ceased. If that’s not the case, why are we still give money to people who are scoring below 2nd upper then?

      In any case, ” they also have the implicit goal of increasing Singaporeans population”
      If an educated Singaporean couple knows how hard it is to raise a family, what makes you think that the scholars wouldn’t think the same way after experiencing similar lifestyles as us ?

  6. Dear Prof.,

    I refer to your previous idea of getting Honours students to teach. Perhaps this can be combined into some form of financial aid, paying the students to tutor the students.

    I would suggest that it can be made optional (for both the freshmen and the honours student), occuring during the Special Term, so that it does not add to the workload of students.

    I think such an idea would be well liked by the student population. It would be optional anyway, so there is no compulsion to join. Priority could be given to financially needy students if there is overwhelming of honours tutors.

    “6: Grading aside, one of the best way to learn is to teach. I am trying to experiment with getting our Honours students to do a practicum – teaching Year I students in the same major. Each Honours student can be a tutor to a small group of 5 to 6 freshmen, and he/she must prepare all the materials and anticipate what these mentees would ask in class. “

    1. Douglas, paying honours students to teach is a possibility. For instance, we have engaged Honours students to man teaching laboratories. I was thinking of getting honours students to teach freshmen, as a sort of practicum, from which they could earn academic credits.

  7. @ZH In that case, they shouldnt be called Scholars! Scholars are being called Scholars for a reason, which is excelling in academic! Not just passing and not failing their course. If the aim of the scholarship scheme is as what you have mentioned, it should be called Increase Population Scheme and not Scholarship scheme.

  8. “the senior leadership has blamed on Singaporeans for not producing enough” – Hmm… I wonder who came up with the “stop at 2” policy? Now they blame us for not producing enough? Do they think we have amnesia or something?

    “helping us to maintain a good racial ratio and diverse environment” – If they wanted to maintain a good racial ratio, they should be bringing in Malays, that’s the racial group whose % have been dropping, not indians or chinese. If they want a diverse environment, why do they accept more students from ASEAN instead of focusing just on 2 countries – India and China?

    “So, even if they do not fare well, they still achieve the goal” – Really? Zaobao reported that many of these students return to PRC after graduating: How is this achieving the goal of repopulating Singapore?

  9. Just to get the Math right. A typical faculty graduate scholarship pays 2 to 2.5k per month on top of tuition fees for the scholarship holder. These are bond free and anyone is not restricted to Singaporeans.

    For “higher tier” scholarships, we have those that pay more than $3k a month (NGS, a-star, etc) and foreigners are also eligible for some of those. Ironically, a-star scholarships, which is only open for Singaporeans, comes with a bond.

    Let me do the math. A foreign graduate scholar is paid at least 2k before his qualifying exam for the first 24months. After the QE they are paid at least 2.5k for the next 24 months. That amounts to > 100k for each student over 4 years in stipends ALONE. Never mind about tuition fees. And who knows how many of them just pack up and leave after they graduate?

    Is NUS saying that they can pay for foreign graduate scholars but have limited firepower to aid local needy undergrads? That doesn’t sound right.

    Now, I have nothing against foreigners here on scholarships. I work with them on a daily basis. My question is, if NUS can afford to be so generous to these “scholars” who have no obligation to serve Singapore in whatsoever ways, on what moral grounds do you have to ask for donations?

  10. ZH:

    This is not the article to talk about the Sun Xu incident. I guess we should actually applaud Mr Sun for daring to speak out on what is present in the minds’ of many.

    No one who uses derogatory words on others should ever be applauded. Besides, did you not just talk about “the Sun Xu incident”, contrary to yourself? On the contrary, we all should speak out and act upon such misbehaviour.

    I applaud the finer distribution of financial aid, but I think the whole concept of “income brackets” should be dropped altogether because they do not make sense. Rather, every student who feels financially pressed should be able to seek financial aid that is given on a case by case basis.

    1. There has to be a way to gauge the financial need of a student, and the income bracket is a proxy, though not necessarily the only determinant. Each case is different.

  11. @Zhaosheng

    well, if you have any ASEAN or Indian national or PRC scholar friends, then you should know that it’s the government (MOE, or some SIA-government joint thing) that provides the money for the scholarship.

    NUS actually has to source for its own funds to give scholarships to local students!!! And MOE/governmentbody etc gives out scholarships to foreign students, and then obliges NUS, NTU and SMU to set aside unviersity places for these quotas.

    Yes, MOE does provide some of NUS funds ; UTown for example –> government funds $1 for every $1 that NUS can source in donations from philanthropists or whatever. But NUS administrators have to work so much harder to get donations for local students, whilst MOE just digs into their allocated budget, and other joint companies like SIA get corporate tax breaks I guess (just guessing here).

    I think if we really want to improve the system by giving critiques, we have to give informed critiques. We have to understand who the ‘power brokers’ are, who has power in which domain and who does not. Provost may seem like he is calling the shots in NUS, but don’t forget his locus of ‘powers’ are still circumscribed by the government in the end!!!

    And about the Sun Xu incident —> what do you really expect the provost to say? What *CAN* he say? There are what, 27,000 students in whole of NUS. By the law of large numbers (or bell curve theory), you’re definitely going to get some irresponsible unreasonable people at one standard deviated end and some superoverachiever on the other.

    Yaw Shin Leong also NUS alumnus, are you going to say that he had bad ‘moral’ character (or at least, very immature way of just running away and leaving his wife to clear up the mess) because of his NUS undergraduate education??? So becomes NUS’ fault?? Sun Xu spent like 20 years of his life somewhere right, and even then are we going to blame his surroundings???

    I really don’t know what provost can say about Sun Xu — why don’t you ask what MOE says about him, since they’re the ones who gave him his scholarship in the first place? Why don’t you ask what MTI and/or MOM can say about him, since they’re the ones that set the economic growth targets and population growth allowances which then percolates down to other ministries and sets their whatever targets????? (at least this is how the whole fuzzy picture of our government seems to me) Anyway, im sure they had some benign, big economic growth plan but whatever, they miscalculated this one.

    If you look at the previous blog posts, provost already talked about integration and blahblahblah, so it’s not like we all don’t know it’s a problem. Anyway I have other PRC scholar friends also who are not like that and are great people so let’s not get carried away with one bad egg.

    I’m more concerned about keeping track of where our scholars are…. MOE wrote to ST forum about how they’re keeping track or whatever… I’m pretty sure they’re telling half-truths.. I have scholar friends who are totally not serving out their bonds in singapore and are working high flyer banking jobs elsewhere. So if they say they are keeping track of scholars.. I think it’s a recent phenomenon. By observing my scholar friends and which generation they’re from I can have an idea of when they started keeping track — ie, not so long ago.

    My main message = don’t let one sun xu drag everybody down, alot of us have foreign scholar friends here in NUS (some even from sec school) especially those of us who live on campus. If you will go out and integrate more with other foreign students too im sure you will be more chilled. Don’t hate, appreciate!

  12. This is a good move, but more can be done to help the needy Singaporeans.

    While I was in Year 1, I didnt dare to apply for SEP, because I knew I had that great amount of debt to be settled after graduation. This deprived me of getting any international exposures, be it for student exchange, summer programmes or my own personal overseas travelling.

  13. After my A’level results, I could only watch helplessly as one of my friends who scored straight As for the A’levels get rejected, without even an interview, by NUS for an application for an NUS scholarship. My friend had no means of financing his university education and was in desperate need of a scholarship…You may say that he wasn’t good enough for the scholarship. Scholarships are only awarded to those who excel in both academic and non-academic arenas. Yet, he was awarded the prestigious bond-free Singapore Australian National University Alumni Scholarship which is only given to 2 Singaporeans a year. He is now studying at ANU, which values him more…

    It’s not about how many foreign scholars attain upper class honours. It’s about how many Singaporeans attain upper class honours but were denied scholarships.
    This is how our society treats us and our parents who pay taxes. They’d rather give scholarships to others than their own. They’d rather leave us with the burden of debts from pursuing our tertiary education than offer each promising Singaporean a ~$24,000 scholarship. The S$6000 annual living allowance awarded to foreign scholars can nearly fully finance the annual university tuition fees of one Singaporean.

    copied from:

  14. I agree with Valerie. More should be done to help the needy, but I also think we should not forget students from middle-income families. For example, when I entered NUS, I knew from the start I couldn’t afford SEP or Honours, if I did not qualify for financial aid. Which I did not, just barely. So I did not even bother to try studying harder. I think NUS needs to pay more attention to this group of students just slipping through the cracks, because it’s likely to be these students and their families that will be hardest-hit by rising costs.

    1. Indeed we are trying to help as many of the needy students as possible, within our resource constraints.

  15. @pulmonary peony

    What you are describing is mainly politics. What I am saying here is that, whatever the reason or source, there is money and it has been (and still is) freely given to many foreign students as bond free scholarships. It may not be from NUS per se(though it is unclear) but there is a pool of money around and NUS, if they can justify why they need it, can apply or otherwise find ways to get it. If politics is involved, then NUS would do good to explain to us why they are unable to secure more government funding before asking the public for donations.

    NUS has been charging us ever increasing fees and though they are not obliged to tell us where these government grants and tution fees go to, we know that these are subtantial amounts of money that could be used, amongst other things, to help needy students. Areas can be improved in the campus to be run more cost efficiently(Central air conditioning can be made more efficient for example). These savings can be substantial and these can be channelled for other uses.

    And even if NUS wants to seek for donations to increase their coffers (which aren’t very transparent to begin with), it needs to stop treating us graduates like a bottomless pit of resources. We have our debts to pay as well. Highly paid faculty staff have more resources on hand to help if they want to and it is not known if NUS wants to tap their faculty members as a resource (like they are tapping us graduates).

    The provost may have his powers curtailed but the fact remains that a lot of money that can be otherwise spent to help our needy students are spent to sponsor foreign students. Assuming, NUS has no say on how to use these money, then if NUS wants a piece of the pie, they can ask from MOE or however the source is. We know there is money around. Whether or not NUS can or want to reallocate these resources to help the needy students is up to them.

    In short, don’t tell us that on the one hand. there is free money to be given to foreign scholars but on the other we need “philanthropic donations ” before we can help more of our local needy students. This doesn’t sound right. Reallocate our resources to show that we give priority to the local needy and many will be impressed enough to donate, me included.

  16. To anyone who does not have believe the “Implicit goal of raising the population using the scholarship” You can think about the analogy of having a fully furnished home( you can think of Singapore) Would you still give more money to the owner for the furniture which is already inside? Or do you have to pay to get people in.

    The global talent war is being waged and our government is trying its best. In offering the scholarship, they are playing a probability game and given that the scheme has been going on for so long. The country should be figuring that it is profiting. Even for those that leave, they will help to boost the reputation of the Singapore brand when they succeed in life.

    If you you dislike the country, then leave and if there is a country which treasures you more, then stay there . Singapore does not need anyone of us. (It can just buy many clones of us from the talent market at anytime)

    For those who wish to have scholarships, you can only blame yourself for being not hungry enough.If you are, you can create your own scholarship.

    If you think there there is someone who is not deserving of the scholarship(Results, Actions, Speech). Just dig out whatever evidence in whatever way you can and display it. This will help to motivate anyone with a scholarship to work harder

    @David: Dropping the income brackets is a really bad idea as you might see BMWs, Merc etc crowding the interview office^^

  17. Need to have more Midterm versions of Scholarships:

    Hi, this is not on Financial Aid, but on the closely related topic of scholarships.

    NUS has various NUS Scholarships; freshmen scholarships provided to identify and support outstanding Singaporean students.

    However, there is no “Midterm” version of these scholarships. Some students are late bloomers who do not reach their full capacity during the ‘A’ Levels.

    I humbly propose that there should be a “Midterm” version of the NUS Scholarships for deserving NUS students in Year 1/2/3/4. The value of the “Midterm” Scholarship can be lower than the full scholarship due to less years left for study,

  18. ZH:

    You can think about the analogy of having a fully furnished home( you can think of Singapore) Would you still give more money to the owner for the furniture which is already inside? Or do you have to pay to get people in.

    If you you dislike the country, then leave and if there is a country which treasures you more, then stay there .

    And that’s exactly why so many singaporeans are leaving isn’t it? And that’s also why many new (naturalised) singaporeans eventually leave too, isn’t it? Because there are no benefits in staying here for the long run.

    If the government thinks that this transient, revolving door policy where citizens come and go and treat this place like a hotel, is a good idea and sustainable in the long term, then I have nothing to argue with. It just goes to prove how Singapore inc is all about money.

  19. @Passerby: Thats the idea. Singapore is all about money and behaves much like a company. As much as it is about your performance, networking is really important too. To anyone talking about negative opinion on Singapore. If you dislike SIngapore, just leave.

    And if you stay, “Beggars are not choosers” just take what they give you.

    And i do find it strange that so many people are just shouting “give me more money” and not proposing things like opening up more research and admin jobs to students which could provide experience and money to students.

  20. I refer to the article on TREmeritus: (Only One Singaporean PhD Student in NUS Economics Faculty!)

    I believe NUS needs to have a local version of the NUS Research Scholarship, to encourage more Singaporeans to take up research at the Master’s / PhD Level at NUS.

    Although Singaporeans get $2500 under the current scheme, as compared to $2000 for foreigners, hopefully this does not cause the reverse effect of NUS to offer more scholarships to foreigners, since they are “cheaper”.

    Look at Berkeley’s Graduate Admission Statistics: The ratio of US Citizens to International are 7,895:2,015.
    For NUS Economics, the ratio of Singaporeans to International is a miserable 1:35.

    NUS should come up with an honest and true Graduate Admission Statistics website.

    If the ratio 1:35 is such because no Singaporeans even apply for PhD/masters in NUS, okay I forgive NUS.
    But if it is because Singaporeans who apply for PhD/Masters in NUS are rejected in overwhelming numbers, leading to the unbelievably low 1:35 ratio, I believe Singporeans deserve an explanation from NUS.

    1. @TREmeritus Supporter

      If you’re a Singaporean student who really wants to pursue academia, or have friends who do, you should know that most of us want to do our PhD in US or UK universities. In fact, NUS offers scholarships only to local students to obtain their PhDs in US and UK universities, and these are fully funded, after which they come back to teach at NUS.


      You’re alumni right? There are plenty of professors now who pay students to do research for them, and my friends who do are all Singaporeans. Don’t know what it is like during your time, but I got all the students I’ve heard of who are doing research for NUS professors are all Singaporeans leh.

    2. Dear TREmeritus Supporter,

      Of the 36 PhD students in the Economics Department, 1 is a Singapore Citizens and 6 are PRs. This is because there were very few Singaporean applicants to our Economics PhD programme; in some years, we receive only a handful of applications from Singaporeans.

      Each year, about 400 students graduate from NUS with a major in Economics. However, very few of our graduates are keen to pursue a PhD. The Graduate Employment Survey results suggest that the employment market in Singapore has been good, and many Economics graduates opt to join the workforce, rather than pursue further studies, when they graduate. To our knowledge, less than 20 Economics graduates over the last 5 years, are pursuing their PhDs, many of whom prefer to pursue their PhD studies overseas. Singaporean students tend to prefer to pursue Master degrees. More than 40% of students enrolled in the coursework Economics Masters programme are Singaporeans or PRs.

      Assoc Prof Shirlena Huang
      Vice-Dean (Graduate Studies)
      Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

  21. May i know if the students receiving bursary and financial aid have any obligation to pay back? NUS is also working hard at fund-raising, as philanthropic donations will allow us to expand the pool of funds available for financial aid. I once attended a job interview at Development Office in NUS and the interviewer told me that they work very hard and have KPI to meet. If that is the case, it will be good to get those students on financial aid to pay back. I was not on financial aid because i belong to the middle-income family so there was no really a sense of belonging for me to contribute back to NUS Fund Raising Activities. But if I am a staff of NUS, i may be more willing to help out in fund-raising, since I am a salaried employee of NUS.

    1. Financial aid comes in various forms: bursaries (which is essentially free money), loans (which usually come with attractive interest rates and repayment schedules after graduation), work on campus, etc. Needy students would welcome more bursaries, and we are trying our best to raise them through donors.

  22. In addition, based on statistics from MCYS, women are now doing better than men.
    62% of Women are in Division 1 in Civil Service

    I may need to make an unpopular comment but it seems that Singapore males may need more help and probably lower the standards a bit when it comes to admissions criteria. I am all for merit but if a certain demographics needs help, it might be better to help them more.

  23. @ ZH As far as I can tell, in your later posts, you’re talking about scholarships in a post aimed at financial aid – two very different things. If we were complaining about local students not getting scholarships, I would be agreeing with you about not being hungry enough, but what Provost Tan’s post and most of the later replies here seem to be doing is talking about what more we can do to help middle-class students in the form of subsidies, grants, bursaries and aid devices. Of course, there needs to be a certain standard to make sure recipients of these are of appropriate standards, but basic financial aid should not be based off how hungry, as you say, a student is. Otherwise we might as well add a disclaimer on the Open House brochures that opportunities for SEP (the criteria for which is a CAP of 3.0, by the way) is solely based on your financial ability.

    Your second point about opening up research and admin jobs to students is a good idea to explore, and I think NUS already has something like that for admin jobs, except that, as far as I know, it is hard to get into – I have not seen a local student in it yet – and not well-publicised, nor remunerated sufficiently well. As for research jobs, well, why pay money when you could get students to do it for free as part of their coursework?

  24. @alumni: I was referring to all forms of financial aid. If one is hungry enough, it is actually physically possible that one can work and study at the same time hence creating a scholarship for yourself.

    If you read the many pages in ST, you can find many examples of that.

    1. Firstly, working and studying at the same time is not by any stretch a scholarship, and to call it so is disingenuous. A scholarship implies maintaining a certain minimum academic standard in return for financial incentive, and this exchange is patently not present in working while studying. If I were to describe this situation, I would call working while studying subsistence farming, rather than a scholarship.

      Secondly, if you were speaking of all financial aid, then I put to you that there should be certain opportunities which should be handed to the student to make up for difficulties variance in backgrounds foster. I do not advocate blanket handouts for everyone, please note, and I agree that the individual bears some responsibility to exhibit hunger and strive to be better, but if we do not factor in at least a few devices to balance the playing field slightly, we might as well go back to feudal society where education was so expensive that it might as well have been reserved for the rich – regardless of the hunger shown by poor students.

      Finally, it is not that easy to work and study at the same time, nor is it so easy to earn enough to pay off living expenses while saving for one’s school fees, which I can tell you from first-hand experience. Humanly possible, I agree, but not easily-done. If you can do it, well and good and I applaud your persistence, but what about the others who cannot? What about those who can just only pay for the basic three years in University, but qualify for Honours or SEP although they missed the cutoff for financial aid? Are they to be denied opportunities that they might be qualified for, then, because the University has decided that those individuals had not shown enough hunger in working while studying, because they are unable pay off their own expenses?

      1. This is exactly one of the points which I am trying to make. We do not wish to deprive needy students of enriching academic experiences such as the honours year, SEP or an overseas exposure.

        1. With all due respect, Professor Tan, as a recent graduate, I can tell you that the school is not doing enough as of yet, even as I appreciate the efforts to attempt to help. I hope to see more done to help them so my juniors will not have go through what I have.

          Some areas the school might want to look into can be to relax the lower limit in financial aid criteria to help more students from lower to middle income families, and also possibly stratify aid in response to the student’s financial situation.

  25. @alumni: If i am not wrong, NUS does provides loan system by which you can loan up to 90% of the tuition and then return the rest later.

    We must think about the overall interest of the school when we think about such policy issues. What will the school gain from offering all these scholarships when it can do the same without paying the same amount?

  26. Amidst the negative criticisms, let us at least congratulate NUS for the effort in improving Admissions and Financial Aid.

    It may still not be perfect, at least it is one step forward.
    As Confucius said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.

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