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Foreign students with permanent residency studying master degrees and post-graduate diplomas will have their subsidies reduced, and all others will have no longer be subsidised. Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said that the reduction in subsidies will save S$25 million a year and the funds will be channelled to support short training courses for Singaporeans and permanent residents (PRs).

Currently, Singapore universities offer about 300 postgraduate courses, and around 33% are foreigners who receive subsidies by the Education Ministry (MOE). Foreign students get 50% subsidies, while PRs get 65%. The subsidies, depending on the course and institution, can be more than S$20,000 for master degrees in biomedical engineering, electronics and precision engineering at Nanyang Technological University.

Foreign students who received subsidies will need to take up a three-year contract with a Singapore company, which is widely viewed as a “guaranteed employment” carrot for foreigners. The new change will see PRs getting only 50% subsidies instead of 65%.

The generous subsidies for foreign students and ASEAN scholarships where tuition fee are fully paid along with an allowance, have long been envied by Singaporean citizens who could barely qualify for local universities admission despite having higher qualifications than foreigners.

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