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Fee hike why tell us only now?

Some foreign students cry foul over sudden poly fee increase. -TNP

Sun, Feb 21, 2010
The New Paper

By Gan Ling Kai

FIRST a meeting was held with foreign students to explain the fee increases.

But some foreign students were unhappy. After all, they had already enrolled in their course, they said.

So Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) organised another meeting to explain to the students there are help schemes available to help them.

Even then, some students left dissatisfied.

The annual fee for foreign students has gone up from $3,150 to $4,300. In comparison, fees for local students increased from $2,100 to $2,150.

The five polytechnics here announced on Thursday that the fee increase for foreign students was implemented "to achieve a sharper differentiation by citizenship".

The first meeting was held on Thursday to announce the increment.

More than 100 foreign students turned up.

The New Paper learnt that NYP called for a second meeting yesterday after the foreign students expressed their unhappiness.

This time, about 60 students turned up at the lecture theatre.

But some foreign students left, still disgruntled.

Sandy, who is from China, said her first semester will only start in April, but she has been here since December for English proficiency lessons.

She declined to give her full name, saying that she's still an NYP student.

The 20-year-old said her fees for the first semester have already been paid, and now she has to fork out the extra amount. That's an additional $575 for one semester of six months.

She said her father is an odd-job worker in China, and her mum is a shop owner. Sandy has a younger sister who's a student. Their monthly household income is about $800.

Sandy said that after she called her parents about the change on Thursday, her mother told her, resigned:

"You are already in somebody else's territory."

Sandy said she would most likely continue with her studies here although she has no idea how her parents will cope with the fee increment.

Rita, a 19-year-old student from China, took issue with the meetings being done in English when many of the affected students are from China.

Only the question-and-answer sessions were conducted in Mandarin.

At the second meeting, NYP staffers explained that the letter the students received stated that the fee of $3,150 was subject to further confirmation. To help cushion the impact of the fee hike, the students were told there would be options.

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Help available

Aid may come from the NYPi bursary, which was set up last year for both local and foreign students in need, said an NYP spokesman yesterday.

Only students from families with a monthly household income of $1,200 or below qualify for it.

Now, NYP has made special arrangements to use this bursary to help new foreign students affected by the latest fee hike, but they must still meet the same requirements.

Successful applicants will receive $535, which means they will need to fork out an extra $40 to meet the fee hike for this semester.

But the aid applies to one semester only, which means that students will still have to pay the full amount for subsequent semesters.

Students in need can also consider applying for other financial assistance schemes.

Permanent residents account for no more than 5 per cent of students enrolled at the ITE and the five polytechnics. International students make up no more than 10 per cent of the enrolment in these institutions.

Among the polytechnics here, the bigger ones like Ngee Ann, Nanyang and Singapore Poly each have about 15,000 students.

Existing foreign polytechnic students - admitted before 2010 - will also be affected by the fee hike, but the increment is less. They now have to pay an annual school fee of $3,230.

PRs, who study in local polytechnics, pay $2,370 if they were admitted before 2010.

New students, who are PR, will pay $2,870.

Financial assistance schemes

THESE three financial assistance schemes are available to both local and foreign polytechnic students pursuing a diploma course:

1. Tuition Fee Loan (TFL)Scheme

It covers up to 75 per cent of the annual tuition fees.

2.CPF Education Scheme

It covers up to 100 per cent of tuition fees.

3. Polytechnic-administered Bursary Schemes

These schemes provide $500 to $3,000 per annum for students who require assistance. The NYPi bursary is an example of such a scheme.

Other financial assistance schemes are available to Singapore citizens only.

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Additional reporting by newsroom intern Vinna Yip

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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