Singapore may not be that popular with Indian students from the region, but the country promises a bright future for those who really want to make a big splash in foreign study.
"Today, our students are attracted to Singapore for its quality and affordable education. Cheaper living and education costs, and comparatively relaxed visa regulations, make all the difference in view of the dicey situation in countries like the UK and Australia," according to Rohit Sethi, a Singapore student visa expert of Jalandhar-based VIEC, the pioneers in study abroad in northern India.
Excerpts from the interview with R.M.S. Atwal:
How's Singapore doing as a study destination in comparison to bigwigs like the US and UK?
Under the current scenario, when other countries have further tightened their visa regulations, getting a Singapore student visa is comparatively easier. Though not many students from the region opt for it, let me tell you that tuition fees and living costs are cheaper there as compared to the UK and US; you don't have to show no old funds and face the 'dreaded' High Commission interview.
But this all does not make Singapore any less important in terms of quality education. With no natural resources to draw from, the country has heavily invested in all levels of education to drive its successful economy.
As an added advantage, institutes in Singapore offer students the opportunity to attain international certification at a much affordable cost through their partnerships with popular international universities from the US, UK, Australia, etc.
Could you name certain courses which are high in demand?
Diploma courses topping the list are: Hospitality (six months study and six months practical training) and Casino Management. There are enormous job opportunities available with the opening of two integrated resorts and the commitment of the Singapore Government to develop the city-state into an international entertainment hub in the next five years.
Engineering, Business Studies, Mass Communication, Design and Info-Communications, and IT courses are also quite popular amongst international students.
Why do you think not many students are attracted to Singapore?
It's mainly because students are not aware of the immense study and post-study settlement options available in that beautiful country. It is still considered more of a tourist destination in this region. Everybody knows that foreign students are not allowed to work in Singapore, unless they are granted Work Pass exemption under the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Pass Exemptions) Notification.
It is noteworthy that overseas students at IHL (Institute of Higher Learning) are exempt from applying for a work permit if they wish to work during the vacation time. To safeguard the interests of the students, two key initiatives have been put in place. These are CaseTrust for Education and Singapore Quality Class for Private Education Organizations (SQC-PEO).
Very soon CaseTrust will be replaced by EduTrust Scheme.
What about the study gap? Does it affect visa chances?
Though the admission criteria vary from institute to institute, in general if a student can justify an institute about his interest in the particular course, study gap is no problem. Each private school carries its own admission process and interested students should directly contact the school concerned.
Usually the student's statement of intent attached with each application should be self-explanatory and give the reason for choosing that particular course. If the school is satisfied, admission may be granted. The institutes encourage students to have a keen interest in the chosen area of study. But there are certain conditions attached to this and admissions are granted on case-to-case basis.
Any message for prospective students thinking of flying to Singapore?
Singapore is a beautiful and one of the safest countries across the globe. Before finalising your plans please do your research on the courses and institutes. Students opting for private institutes must check if they have the CaseTrust Certificates. My advice is one should never indulge in unlawful activities while studying. PR, of course, is top on your minds but always remember that it is the quality education which will help you in the long run, so study hard.
After all investment in education is an investment in your future.
R.M.S. Atwal can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.