How Singapore’s six public universities differ

Source: The Straits Times  MAR 3, 2015

Campuses of (from left) SIM University, Singapore Management University and Singapore University of Technology and Design. Singapore’s six public universities are striving to be different in order to attract the best students. — PHOTOS: ST FILE

With six public universities, students now have a diverse range of degrees to choose from.

To attract the best students, the universities are striving to be different – in their programmes, tuition fees, student and faculty mix, accommodation options, financial help and overseas opportunities.

Calvin Yang looks at the options offered.


National University of Singapore (NUS): It has more than 50 full-time degrees, with exclusive ones such as those in dentistry, music and pharmacy.

Nanyang Technological University (NTU): It has more than 50 degrees, with niche programmes such as communication studies, and sport science and management.

Singapore Management University (SMU): It offers seven full-time programmes such as accountancy, law, information systems management and an SUTD-SMU dual degree programme in technology and management, launched last year.

Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD): Its five degrees include architecture and sustainable design, engineering product development, engineering systems and design, and information systems technology and design.

Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT): Catering mainly to polytechnic graduates, the university has 36 programmes – some offered by reputable partner universities and others run solely by SIT. The programmes include culinary arts management, criminology and security, game design and naval architecture.

SIM University (UniSIM): The university synonymous with part-time degrees recently started offering full-time programmes in accountancy, finance and marketing. It will introduce a fourth full-time degree in human resource management this year.


These are for Singaporean students admitted in the academic year 2014/2015, except for UniSIM undergraduates.

NUS: Annual tuition fees range between $7,850 – for courses like computing, engineering, and arts and social sciences – and $24,200 for medicine and dentistry.

NTU: Fees are between $7,850 for most programmes, and $31,500 for medical students.

SMU: Undergraduates who started last August are paying $11,100 per year, except for law students, who are paying $12,300.

SUTD: An education at the university costs $11,650 per year.

SIT: Annual fees range from $10,100 to $15,300.

UniSIM: This year’s accountancy students will pay about $33,000 for the entire degree programme, while students from other programmes will pay about $31,000.


NUS: It has a wide range of scholarships and financial aid available.

Over the past five years, it has seen a two-fold increase in students receiving scholarships, from about 800 in 2009 to 1,650 in 2013. There was a 60 per cent increase in the number of students receiving bursaries over the same period.

NTU: For the new academic year that starts in August, it will be providing about 500 full-term scholarships, namely the Nanyang Scholarship and College Scholarship. Singaporean students interested in taking up a bursary each will receive assistance as long as their household per capita income is $1,900 or less per month.

SMU: It has a comprehensive range of financial schemes. For scholarships, about 60 per cent of those who apply have been successful in securing a scholarship supported by the university or its donors.

SUTD: It offers 173 scholarships and 43 bursaries, excluding government ones.

SIT: More than 10 per cent of students are on scholarships or sponsorships by their employers or prospective employers.

UniSIM: About a dozen scholarships, such as the SIM University Scholarship, and bursaries, such as the Ministry of Education Bursary, are available to students.


NUS: The six halls of residence, four student residences and five residential colleges offer about 11,000 places in all for full-time students. A one-week stay in a typical single, non-air-conditioned room costs between $110 and $130.

NTU: Its 18 residential halls house more than 10,400 undergraduates. Rental fees range from $225 to $280 monthly for a twin-sharing room.

SMU: It does not have any student residences.

SUTD: It has three student housing blocks with a capacity of around 1,100 beds. Depending on the room type, an undergraduate typically pays around $350 to $480 per month.

SIT: It does not offer any student residences.

UniSIM: It does not have any student accommodation.


NUS: About 70 per cent of undergraduates have at least an overseas exposure stint, such as summer school or internships.

NTU: Some 80 per cent of students get some form of overseas exposure, such as taking classes at a partner university overseas.

SMU: About 86 per cent of students have some form of overseas exposure, mainly through student exchange programmes.

SUTD: Nearly 60 per cent of undergraduates have overseas experience.

SIT: All students taking programmes offered by its partner universities abroad must go for an Overseas Immersion Programme as part of the curriculum. They spend between three and 17 weeks at the home campus of the university. Also, nearly all undergraduates doing SIT’s own programmes have gone on study trips and work-study initiatives overseas.

UniSIM: Its full-time students must go for an overseas stint during their studies. Currently, they have not started their stints, which may include a work attachment programme or a service learning project.