SINGAPORE: International students who do not fulfil their tuition grant bond service commitment can face serious adverse consequences.
Speaking in Parliament on Monday (Mar 14), Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said the ministry has sharpened the deterrent measures against defaulters to send a strong signal.
Said Mr Ong: “For example, where liquidated damages cannot be recovered, defaulters face serious adverse consequences if they subsequently apply to work or reside in Singapore. This may be why the number of defaulters is falling over the last few years, and MOE will continue to monitor the effectiveness of these measures and improve them.”
Mr Ong was responding to questions by Hougang MP Png Eng Huat which included the number of international students who have not served their grant obligation upon graduation to date and the amount of tuition grants given to them.
Mr Ong said the ministry tracks the service records of graduates closely. For a typical batch of tuition grant recipients, the large majority - more than eight in 10 graduates - have served or are serving their bonds, or have secured approval from MOE for deferment while they pursue further studies.
However, inevitably there is a minority for which data cannot ascertain if they are fulfilling their service obligations. Mr Ong said this minority group accounts for about S$30 million of grants per year.
It is around two per cent of total grants to local students, or one per cent of the budget spent on polytechnics and universities every year.
Mr Ong said: "Let’s take 2012, since the member asked for the number of defaulters three years after graduation. As of January 2016, 84 per cent are working or have applied for deferment. Of the remaining 16 per cent, MOE tracked them and found that some are working in Singapore, but we do not have their employment records.
“For example, they are freelancers. Some ... are furthering their studies but did not go through the deferment procedures. These should not be viewed in the same light as individuals who knowingly and willingly decide not to fulfil their service obligations."