As a modern cosmopolitan country with prestigious universities and a high standard of living, Singapore is an exhilarating place to study It is renowned for its success as one of the four Asian tiger economies along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan, and has the third highest per capita income in the world according to the International Monetary Fund. Singapore offers a fast-paced big-city lifestyle, tropical climate and a sumptuous mix of Asian cuisines drawing on the diverse traditions of its multicultural society. Superb transport links also make it a great base for exploring the rest of southeast Asia.
When you consider it has two universities in the top 100 of the QS world rankings and courses taught in English, there's little wonder this small island city-state - with a population of less than 5.5 million - is an attractive student destination.
Most applications for Masters Programmes are made online through the university website. You may have to send supporting documents, such as exam transcripts and a copy of your passport, and pay an application fee Check with the university as some courses have different application processes. For example, there may be different deadlines depending on your home country, previous qualifications, or for the January and August intakes.
Singapore has four official languages: English, Malay, Tamil and Mandarin. The vast majority of Singaporeans speak more than one of these. Your course will be taught in English as it's the official language of business and education. Be aware that universities in Singapore set high standards for proficiency in English, so if you're a non-native speaker you'll need a good score in a test such as the IELTS (International English Language Testing System).
Postgraduate study in Singapore is often referred to simply as graduate study. Masters degrees are split between coursework programmes (equivalent to taught courses in the UK) and research programmes. Full-time study usually lasts one or two years, with intakes in August and, for some courses, January. Part-time study is also possible. Entry criteria usually include a good undergraduate degree in a relevant subject, proficiency in English and evidence that you can support yourself financially. However, check with your institution as the requirements will vary. Your Masters from a Singaporean university should be recognised by UK employers.
Annual tuition fees for international students are 10% above the rate paid by Singaporeans. They can range from around 15,000 to 50,000 Singaporean dollars (about £7,000 to £23,000), with science subjects costing considerably more than arts subjects. As you'd expect, fees vary by course and institution, so check with the university that you're applying to. What you have to pay will typically be divided into separate sections. Tuition fees will be the main expense, but other costs may include application fees and charges for IT facilities, exams, social programmes and health cover.
Almost of fifth of students in Singapore are international. The main higher education institutions are the six local autonomous universities:
The National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University are the largest and most high profile, placing 22nd and 39th respectively in the QS World University Rankings 2014/15. In addition there are private universities, five polytechnics and several campuses of international universities based in Singapore, including the French business school INSEAD.
Once you've secured a place on a course, you'll need to apply for a Student's Pass at an overall cost of 90 Singaporean dollars (£40). These cover the duration of your course and are issued by the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA). It may vary by the type of institution you plan to attend, but as a general rule you submit your application through the Students Pass Online Application & Registration System (SOLAR) at least one month, but not more than two months, before your course starts.
If you're successful you'll receive an in-principle approval letter, which will include your visa to enter the country. On arrival in Singapore you'll have to produce various documents, including your passport and a medical report, at a pre-booked appointment with the ICA. You don't need a Student's Pass if you already hold a Dependent's Pass or an Immigration Exemption Order
Exchanges and placement opportunities are available to students on Masters or PhD programmes, while work experience and internships in Singapore are highly sought-after, so competition for places is intense. For example, the Singapore Management University has partnerships with more than 200 institutions globally. Meanwhile, the Singapore Work Holiday Programme allows university students and recent graduates between 18 and 25 years of age to work for up to six months on a holiday visa.