Asian students have long been drawn to Western universities. In fact, in 2018 and 2019, China sent more students to study in the UK than any other country. But now as Asian countries seek to attract more international students themselves, many learners are choosing to study closer to home instead 


After all, studying within the region offers plenty of benefits. Not only do Asian universities provide a world-class education at a more affordable price. But they are also “among the world’s best at enhancing their alumni’s job market prospects,” states the QS Graduate Employability Rankings. This is a big draw, considering a recent report found that 81% of respondents from eight Asian countries wanted to study at a foreign university to improve employment. 

Sowhat are some of the top study abroad locations for Asian students? And what do learners need to keep in mind when choosing a destination? In this guide, we’ll focus on Singapore: 


Singapore at a glance 

Singapore is modern, sustainable, and multicultural. This makes it an attractive place to study for students from around the region. Malay, Mandarin, Tamil, and English are all recognized as official languages, although English is most commonly spoken. In fact, almost 40% of the population in Singapore speak English at home.  

Singapore invests heavily in human capital. For example, it spends more than 20% of its budget on education each year. It comes as no surprise, then, that Singapore’s education system is listed as one of the best in the world by OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA). 


Universities in Singapore 

There are dozens of universities and colleges in Singapore. The two most popular universities are the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU). Both universities are ranked among the top 20 in the world. According to QS World University Rankings 2021, NUS holds the spot for 11. NTU is ranked number 13. About a quarter of learners at both universities are international students.  

Even more, according to QS, NUS ranks number 24 for graduate employability.  

To study at a Singaporean institution, you must apply directly through the admissions office. This is usually done at the beginning of the year. 

If you’re not a native English speaker or haven’t studied full-time at an English institution, you will also need to prove your English proficiencyPTE Academic is a computer-based language test that provides unbiased and secure results and can help you qualify for studying and migrating abroad.  

Students wanting to attend a college in Singapore – including the Singapore Institute of Management Global Education (SIM GE), the East Asia Institute of Management, and LASALLE College of the Arts – will need a PTE Academic score of 42. In general, universities look for a minimum PTE Academic score between 55 and 62. Here’s a more detailed breakdown of what some popular universities require: 

  • National University of Singapore  62 
  • Nanyang Technological University – 55 
  • Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) – 62 

However, students are strongly advised to always check with their own university or college to see exactly what PTE Academic score is needed.  


Getting your visa 

If you want to study in Singapore, you will need to have a Student Pass. To apply, you must already be accepted as a full-time student at an academic institution. With a Student Pass, you’ll be able to work up to 16 hours a week during the school term. However, you can only do this if you go to an approved institution 

Find out exactly how to apply for a Student Pass here 


Cost of living 

Singapore is considered one of the best student cities in the world; it has great weather, a vibrant mix of cultures, and an excellent food scene. However, compared to other Asian countries, it is on the expensive side. International student tuition fees sit at about $18,700 USD a year. To get an idea about how much it costs to live in Singapore, check out the government’s cost of living calculator.  


Financial aid 

It’s important to keep in mind that Singapore does offer financial aid for citizens, permanent residents, and international students. The Ministry of Education provides these grants under The Tuition Grant Scheme.  

The amount of money offered depends on the area of study and the status of each student in Singapore. This table is a good resource, showing what was available to students studying at NTU in 2020. You can see that for international students, the grants start at about $7,700 USD.   

To accept a Tuition Grant, students who aren’t citizens must sign a Tuition Grant Agreement. This states that they will work in Singapore for a minimum of three years after graduation.  

For more grant information, visit the Ministry of Education website 


Want to study in Singapore? With PTE Academic you can achieve your dreams.  

Our unbiased English tests are trusted as proof of English proficiency by universities in Singapore –  and results are typically ready within 2 days. Find out where you can take PTE Academic now.  

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