Fewer S'pore students heading Down Under

Fewer S'pore students heading Down Under
Students at James Cook University, which has seen its student numbers here rise to 3,000 this year from 2,500 last year. The Queensland-based institution has had to set up a second campus to accommodate the increase.

High tuition fees and the strong Aussie dollar are among the reasons being cited for a dip in the number of Singaporean students heading Down Under to earn their degrees.

However, Australian universities running degree courses in Singapore are thriving.

Australian government figures released to The Straits Times show there were 8,100 Singaporeans enrolled in the 39 Australian universities at all levels in 2012, including 2,700 who moved there last year.

Yet just two years earlier, in 2010, there were more than 9,000 studying there, with over 3,000 students arriving that year.

Australian university officials attribute the dip to more university places being made available in Singapore, the strong Australian dollar as well as high tuition fees and living costs in cities such as Sydney, Melbourne and Perth. Some universities there are charging more than A$30,000 (S$34,000) a year, which they say also accounts for the higher enrolment in Singapore.

Just five years ago, there were 15,000 students enrolled in Australian university programmes in Singapore.

The number has since swelled to 26,000 - of whom an estimated 70 per cent are Singaporeans while 30 per cent are foreigners.

Australian universities make up the biggest proportion of foreign schools offering degree courses in Singapore, with 23 currently doing so.

Several British and American universities also have tie-ups with private schools here.

The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, which runs degree courses with the Singapore Institute of Management, has the biggest enrolment among Australian institutions, with 6,500 students, up from 5,800 in 2010.

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