Guide to studying abroad in Singapore for international students

If you are thinking of studying in Singapore, one of the most attractive countries for young people and foreign professionals eager to expand their academic horizons, this article will provide you with a guide to the different options available to you to study in this destination.

In addition to being one of the safest places in the world and having a truly prosperous economic growth, Singapore has become an ideal destination for international students interested in participating in academic programs both at the basic level, as well as in more advanced degrees.

If you too dream of a student experience in Southeast Asia, specifically in Singapore, one of the world's top educational destinations, it's time to learn about the requirements and opportunities you can take advantage of to make it happen.

Without further introduction, let's get started!

General requirements to study in Singapore

Regardless of your destination, before making the decision to live an international academic experience, it is essential to know the requirements to enter the country as a student.

In the case of Singapore, international students planning to study in this destination must obtain a student visa once they are accepted by a Singaporean university or academic institution. The study institution will be centrally responsible for processing the issuance of the visa.

In addition to the above, it is also important to comply with the following requirements:
  • Valid passport
  • Recent passport size photograph in digital format
  • Student pass issued by the Immigration and Control Authority (ICA) at least one month before the beginning of the academic period.
  • Payment of the necessary fees for the issuance of the Student Pass.
  • Completion of required forms
However, please note that all these requirements and procedures are subject to change depending on the educational institution where you have decided to pursue your studies.

Below we will review the most common opportunities that can help you live a student adventure in Singapore, from language courses to scholarship programs to university studies.

Studying languages in Singapore

In Singapore, being bilingual is practically a requirement for the population from the school stage, in fact, English is the most spoken language in the homes of this destination.

One of the most accessible ways to go study in Singapore is through enrollment in an English course within this dream destination. What options might interest you? We will take a look at them below:

English course in Singapore with School of Language International Pte Ltd.

This language school School of Language International located in Singapore's International Plaza, is an institution with different programs for foreigners interested in communicating in English fluently.

It has highly experienced teams available to provide personalized support in the learning experience.

English course in Singapore with Starich Education Pte Ltd.

Starich Education is one of the most important institutions for international students in Singapore, since in addition to providing language classes, it offers immigration counseling and academic integration services to students of foreign origin.

All English courses at this institution will be tailored to the needs of the Singaporean education system.

In addition, you will have the opportunity to prepare special tests to obtain advanced certifications with the purpose of accrediting your ability to study in Singapore without problems due to the language barrier.

English course in Singapore with EF

Education First (EF), an international language school abroad, offers specialized programs to study English in Singapore. There are programs aimed at children, teenagers and adults of all ages and levels of previous knowledge of the language.

You can decide to learn English for a few weeks, stay for the whole summer, or do a 3-month, 6-month or year-long program.

Study a university degree in Singapore

Another very solid option to fulfill your goal of studying in Singapore is to enroll in one of its 34 universities, where six of them are national and are extremely open to receive students of international origin every year.

Both the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU), represent the most well-known university institutions in the country, to the point of having achieved a high performance in the 2019 QS World University Rankings.

Among the most renowned universities in Singapore that we can mention as recommended centers for foreign students we have:

National University of Singapore (NUS).

The National University of Singapore represents the largest and oldest university institution in the Singaporean territory, so since its foundation in 1980, its performance can hardly be compared to other institutions in the world.

Its most outstanding degree programs and academic programs cover areas of engineering, technology, social sciences and administrative management.

Its main mission is to become a "global knowledge entity" and it has worked hard to become the 12th ranked university in The Times Higher Education Supplement and the best university in Asia according to the QS World University Rankings.

Singapore Management University

Ranked among the world's top education providers, specifically within the academic fields of accounting, finance, computer science, economics, law and statistics, Singapore Management University is the most popular public university in central Singapore.

It has been ranked 78th among the world's most recognized university institutions for its indicators of academic excellence, which has led to the degrees issued at this institution being highly recognized by employers on a global scale.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU)

Since its founding in 1991, Nanyang Technological University is one of the two largest public universities in Singapore and the fourth most recognized university in the entire Asian continent. In addition, as a curious fact, its campus is the largest in the whole of Singapore.

It has reached the number 11 position among the best universities worldwide according to the QS World University ranking, at least in the year 2017.

Its academic programs excel in careers associated with the field of engineering, technology and science.

This institution has important academic collaborations with the United Kingdom, so many students of British origin usually participate in its different programs. Even so, its doors are open to students from all over the world.

Scholarships to study in Singapore

Depending on your country of origin, even though Singapore is a much more affordable study country than other Asian nations, you may find it challenging to pay for all your academic expenses.

Fortunately, there is a great opportunity to participate in a scholarship and fellowship program to study in Singapore, specifically in study and research. We will describe this award/program below in case it is of interest to you:

Singapore International Graduate Award (SINGA).

The Singapore International Graduate Award, better known by its acronym SINGA, arises from a collaboration between different educational institutions in Singapore. Its intention is to foster a vibrant and culturally diverse research community of international students through the general funding of their studies.

SINGA is a scholarship/award given to international students with excellent undergraduate and/or master's academic performance. If you have a strong interest in pursuing research leading to a PhD in Science and Engineering at a Singapore University, this scholarship may be an excellent option.

The award provides financial support covering up to 4 years of PhD studies, including full tuition fees, monthly expenses, settlement allowance and airfare subsidy.

Students can choose to conduct their research work primarily at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU) or Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

Frequently Asked Questions about studying in Singapore

Below we will answer some very common doubts among young people considering studying in Singapore:

What language do you need to speak to study in Singapore?

This is one of the most frequently asked questions, considering that this destination has no less than 4 official languages: English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay (the only national language of Singapore) and Tamil.

English is the most widely spoken language in Singapore. Taking into account first or second language speakers, up to two thirds of the population is fluent in English (66%). Only 20% of Singaporeans can neither read nor write English.

In general, academically in Singapore, English is used as the main language of instruction, although in some cases a second language may be required (subject to the particular conditions of each institution).

What is the cost of living for a student in Singapore?

As always, the actual cost of living will vary depending on your choices and lifestyle.

Some average living costs brought to US dollars are:
  • Monthly rent (1-bedroom apartment): starting at $1,500. It is possible to find cheaper options outside of the downtown area.
  • Utilities (average monthly): $75
  • Monthly public transportation pass: $90
  • Food (budget restaurant): $ 9.50
How much does it cost to get a visa to enter Singapore as a foreign student?

As mentioned in the requirements section, in order to obtain a student pass to study in Singapore, a visa application fee is required.

This fee currently has a monetary cost of 90 Singapore dollars, or about 67 US dollars.

Can I work and study at the same time?

In some cases, yes.

As long as foreign students do not work more than 16 hours per week during their studies, they are exempt from applying for a work permit and can complement their studies with professional activities in Singapore.

However, it is also important to note that these types of permits may be subject to the institution and type of studies being undertaken. For more details click here.

In general you are not allowed to work if you are not a student at the institutions mentioned within the shared list or you are an exchange student passing through Singapore.

How long will it take to process the visa application to study in Singapore?

Generally once you apply for a student pass, it will take about 4 weeks to process your application.

Some applications may take longer if the immigration department requests the attachment of additional documents relevant to your particular case.