Number of foreign students who had intentionally defaulted on fulfilling their scholarship bonds

Published Date: 15 August 2016 12:00 AM

News Parliamentary Replies

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Png Eng Huat, Hougang

Question

To ask the Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) (a) in the past ten years, how many foreign students had intentionally defaulted on fulfilling their scholarship bonds; (b) how much scholarship monies has the Ministry managed to recover from these students; (c) how much of such scholarship monies remain uncollected; (d) what is the average length of time taken to recover monies from defaulters; (e) how many defaulters are deemed to be non-contactable any more; and (f) how much scholarship monies are written off to date.

Response

1. Over the past few years, MOE has progressively stepped up our enforcement measures to track and ensure that our scholars fulfil their bond obligations. For example, we have enhanced our data interfaces with partner agencies such as MOM and ICA from 2014, to better allow us to ascertain the employment status of our scholars. We have also strengthened our communications to all scholars on the importance of their bond obligations, from the point of scholarship award, to the various touch-points during their undergraduate study.

2. The proportion of defaulters is about 1%. We are also in the process of contacting another 4% to determine their bond service status. The rest – 95% – are serving their bonds, have applied for deferment, or are unable to serve their bonds due to reasons like illnesses.

3. For the 1% who has defaulted, MOE takes a serious view. It is not just a matter of money, but also honour and trust. We have managed to recover from a few, but the rest will take time as the defaulters are not in Singapore. Those who fail to pay their liquidated damages will not be able to work or reside in Singapore.

4. MOE does not lightly write-off any scholarship monies. Write-offs are only considered as a last resort on a case-by-case basis. For example, this could be due to serious medical conditions. This involves only a small number of students.

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