Singapore Expected to See University Costs Rise in Coming Years

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(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

According to a new report released by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a four-year degree in Singapore is going to become significantly more expensive by 2030.

The study, titled the Yidan Prize Forecast, looks to measure and predict access to education in addition to the skills students are learning between 2015 and 2030.

The findings suggest an increase in the cost of a four-year degree within fourteen years to the point that it will total 70.2% of the annual income in Singapore. Degrees in the country currently account for 53.1% of the average income. The increase will put Singapore in 11th place out of 25 economies concerning the affordability of a four-year degree as a percentage of annual income.

Five indicators were used in the study, including public expenditure on education as a percentage of gross domestic product, affordability of a four-year degree as a percentage of per capita GDP, youth unemployment, the percentage that new STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) graduates account for in the workforce, and Internet access in schools.

Norway came in first place in terms of affordability of a degree, accounting for just 1% of annual income as of 2015. Saudi Arabia came in second place at 1.8% and Germany followed at third with 3.2%. The study predicted that affordability would improve in all three of these countries, which are expected to continue to be the top three countries in 2030.

However, after the top five economies, costs began to increase, with a four-year degree in France, which came in sixth, accounting for 19.2% of an annual income and 47.2% of the income in Hong Kong, which came in tenth place.

Data used for university program fees were taken from QS University Rankings. The fee listed for National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University ranged from $6,000 to $8,000 for local students. The 2030 predictions were made with the help of the rate of inflation, in addition to analyst feedback and research.

Tuition fees for local universities have been on the rise over the past few years, with all six local universities increasing their tuition last year. Those increases ranged from 0.6% to 0.8% for local undergraduates.

The study also discussed public expenditure on education, finding Norway coming out on top with 9% of GDP last year. South Africa came in second with 8.5%, while Saudi Arabia rounded out the top three with 7.3%. Meanwhile, Singapore came in at number 22 with 3.4% of GDP.

The EIU believes that by 2030, most high-income economies will be putting less money into education. One reason for this is the decline in birth rates.

For example, they estimate Norway to drop to sixth place with spending around 6.4% of GDP, and that Singapore will drop to 24th place at 2.7%.

STEM graduates currently account for 0.3% of the workforce in Singapore, which ranks it in 18th place. Despite an estimated increase in this measure to 0.4% by 2030, the country is expected to be outpaced by others, causing it to drop to 20th place.

Meanwhile, youth unemployment rates in the country for those between the ages of 15 and 24 are expected to improve, going from 10.9% to 10.8% in 2030. This would move Singapore from ninth place up to sixth place.

While Singapore is currently in third place in terms of internet access for schools, it is expected to drop to fourth place in 2030.