Parliamentary Replies

September 04, 2020

Tuition fee rebates due to replacement of face-to-face lessons with online learning

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament

Mr Murali Pillai, Bukit Batok

Question

To ask the Minister for Education whether there have been cost savings at tertiary institutions arising from the replacement of face-to-face lessons with online learning and, if so, whether these cost savings may be passed to the students in the form of tuition fee rebates.

Response

1. The institutes of higher learning (IHLs) have been leveraging on technology to support students’ learning. During the Circuit Breaker period, they had to shift all learning online for all students. Post Circuit-Breaker, online learning has continued at varying levels, alongside the resumption of some in-person classes.

2. While the change in delivery mode over the past six months has brought about cost savings on some fronts, there are also many areas of increased costs. For example, institutions incurred costs to enhance existing IT systems and facilities, purchase new tools to support online learning, and develop new learning resources to cater to the significantly higher demands for online teaching. Additional costs were also incurred due to safe management measures and enhanced cleaning and disinfection, which will continue to be incurred in the new normal.

3. A significant portion of the IHLs’ running costs are due to manpower costs. The academic and non-academic staff in each institution are working even harder than usual, to review and adjust their curriculum and teaching, and mitigate the disruptions to practicals, overseas exchanges and internships in order to ensure that students continue to learn uninterrupted, in a different but meaningful way. IHL staff have also stepped up efforts to help graduates with career guidance and support for their job searches.

4. Notwithstanding all of these cost considerations, MOE and the IHLs have decided to freeze the tuition fees this year in light of the difficult economic situation. We will continue to review tuition fees annually with the IHLs, to ensure that fees reflect changes in the cost of delivering education, while keeping them affordable for Singaporeans.