When questioned in Parliament over why more than half of the foreign scholars selected by the Auditor-General Office (AGO) for test-checks failed their scholarship bond obligations, the Ministry of Education (MOE) take the blame for the foreign scholars saying that they are at fault for not sending reminders in time.
According to state media The Straits Times:
“The cases were flagged by the AGO over delays in sending (the foreign students) letters of reminders to update their status. The MOE stressed the students were not in default of their obligations. There have been delays in sending them the letters because most of the cases that AGO flagged were from earlier graduation batches, before the enhanced measures were fully implemented.”
This is the first time a government ministry is taking responsibility for their mistake, however, it appears MOE is more interested in defending the foreign scholars. After all, not receiving a reminder letter is no excuse for not paying up debt on time.
MOE reportedly revealed lost S$7.16 million from “unrecoverable” student debt, chalked up by foreign students, but the MOE claimed that this is only 1.4% and hence defended that the “vast majority” are still making payment.
Foreign scholars are given fully-paid up school fees, free lodging and even a monthly allowance. They are also “guaranteed” a job placement with the Singapore Civil Service and pathways to Permanent Residency and Singapore citizenship. Compared to Singaporean students, Singaporeans have the least proportion of degree holders as compared to other developed countries.