Things to Know Before Studying in Singapore


Getting one’s education abroad is something that is very common at these days. Studying overseas allow students to be more independent and gain valuable life skills. They will be forced to take better care of themselves and will also be immersed in a totally new culture and environment, broadening up their global perspectives. There is an endless list of countries that you can receive your education from and choosing the country to study in is not an easy task as well. Hence, we have prepared several things you should know before studying in Singapore to help you know more about Singapore.

Why Study

Firstly, I would like to start with the reasons why Singapore is a good destination for international student. Despite its small size, it has achieved a huge feat for being one of Asia’s most modern cosmopolitan country. It is a country with a very diversified communities with people speaking many different languages and practising different cultures. A country that is well known for its multi-racial culture is good a destination for overseas student as not only will they be able to fit in easily, but they can also learn about many different cultures at once.

Secondly, Singapore’s standard of education is amongst the best in the world as the government place a heavy emphasis on education being a part of the country’s economy. Many students from abroad go to Singapore for its higher education due to its innovative education system. Comparing to other countries, attaining an internationally-recognised degree in Singapore is much more affordable. Additionally, two of the highest ranking university globally is located in Singapore, NUS & NTU (ranked 11th globally in 2019). Thus, obtaining education in Singapore will definitely help to perk up your resume in the future.

Lastly, not only that it ranks high in its QS Best Student Cities, but it is also one of safest cities in the world, making it a perfect destination for students.


Finding a suitable accommodation in the country you will be studying in is probably the most important thing to do before you arrive in Singapore. There are many types of accommodations in Singapore for international students with varying preferences and budget. Check out our post on Accommodations for International Students in Singapore to learn more about where you can stay in Singapore.

Do ensure that you book your accommodation early so that there are more options for you to choose from.


Researching on the background and the culture of the country you will be studying at is another essential task that you should do as it will prevent you from offending the locals unintentionally and be labelled as rude or impolite. So get to know Singapore’s cultures and lifestyle before you arrive here to avoid conflict and be more comfortable throughout your stay here.

Singapore is well known for its multi-cultural identity. A country where four major ethnic groups, Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian coexist along side one another peacefully. Other than being able to celebrate and experience all the unique festivals that each tradition has to offer, students also get to enjoy more public holidays! It is definitely an eye opening experience to observe the impact each ethnicity has on Singapore.


Thanks to its multi-cultural background, Singapore’s food culture also has become very broad. You can enjoy Indian, Western, Chinese & Malay cuisine all in one place without having to travel. Singapore’s vibrant food culture is really something that international students should take their time to truly explore and enjoy.

Even though Singapore might be quite an expensive city to live in, the cost of food here is not that demanding as there are plenty of hawker centres that offer the most delicious meals for just about $5. Therefore, no matter where you are from, there will always be delicacies for you to enjoy in Singapore.

Higher Education Institutions

Going back to Singapore’s education, we recommend students to research more on the education route that they are planning to take in Singapore as the education pathways can differ based on the institutions they picked and they should check if their chosen institution offer the course that they are interested in pursuing.

Refer to the table below to see Singapore’s different types of higher education institutions:

Art SchoolsSpecialised schools that focuses on artistic abilities.
Offer diploma as well as degree courses.
Foreign Universities Schools with degrees offered by overseas universities in Singapore.
Offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree courses.
Institute of Technical Education (ITE) ITE offers full/part-time courses that focus on developing the technical knowledge and skills of the students.
Polytechnic Institutions Key providers of continuing education and post-employment professional development services.
Offers practice-oriented studies at diploma level.
Private Universities  Offers subsidised part-time or full-time degree.
Public Universities  Funded by the government, and open to local and international students. Although receives government funding, these universities are autonomous – meaning the can strategise, innovate, and differentiate themselves, as they pursue excellence in education, research, and service


Despite being a multi-racial country with four official languages, Singapore’s primary language is still English. However, during your stay in Singapore you will probably come across its unofficial language called Singlish. Short for “Singapore English”, it is mainly English with a mix of Chinese and Malay words. People of all ages use them frequently in their daily conversations with their friends, colleagues and even cashiers. One example of Singlish would be the addition of the word “lah” to their sentences. It acts as an additional emphasis to the sentence but it is meaningless by itself. Thus, whenever you hear someone using unique sounding words, make sure you ask around for its meaning!

Even though improper English is a day to day habit in Singapore, the universities here still have high entry of standards for English. International students without a good foundation for the English Language will most likely be rejected. If your mother tongue is not English, you will need English proficiency tests such as IELTS/TOEFLS to see if you meet the expected requirements


Other than a multi-racial country, Singapore is also well known for being a “fine” city. There are many laws in Singapore that you should be aware of. Especially if you are going to study here for a few years, knowing all these laws will help you avoid unnecessary trouble and also save you a lot of money. Here are some of the rules that you have to abide by in Singapore.

No Chewing Gum
Unlike in many other countries where chewing gums are available in every mini marts, in Singapore, you can be fined up to $1000 for just carrying or throwing chewing gums inappropriately.

No Littering
Litterbugs are not treated lightly in Singapore. First time offenders can be fined up to $300 for throwing cigarettes butts or wrappers inappropriately. Offenders who throw larger items like drink cans or bottles may even be summoned to court.

No Smoking in Public Areas
Singapore does not take kindly to smokers who smoke outside the designated smoking area. Smoking in public area is a great offense in Singapore, if you are a smoker, this is your chance to quit smoking and if you cannot quit the habit, at least smoke at the designated smoking area or in private area to save yourself from a hefty fine of up to $760.

No Jaywalking
Jaywalking may be something that is normal in other countries. In Singapore, however, jaywalkers can be fined $20 – 6 months in jail. Thus, it is better to follow the rules and use the pedestrian crossing unless you are ready to pay the fines.

Singapore is a very strict country and they do not take offenders lightly. Take more time to learn more about their laws and obey them to prevent yourself from getting fined.

Public Transport

Travelling in Singapore is something that you should never worry about as their public transport system can be easily known as one of the most advanced in the world. They are highly interconnected, making it very simple, direct and quick to travel anywhere in Singapore. The main public transport systems are public bus, MRT and Taxi. If you are a student, we highly recommend you to take the bus or MRT as they are the cheapest option and can still get you to your destination quickly. Therefore, even if you are new to the country, you will still be able to travel from one end of Singapore to the other with ease due to its exceptional transportation system.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees will always one of the biggest concern for students looking to study overseas on top the country’s cost of living. Although foreign students pay an exorbitant amount to study in Singapore, it is still one of the cheapest country for international students to get their internationally recognised education at. This is because the cost of living in Singapore is not as demanding when compared to some other countries. Depending on the students’ lifestyle, their estimated cost of living could be about S$750 – S$2000 monthly. Refer to the list below to see the estimated tuition fee for the different types of courses

Types of Courses Tuition Fee, SGD/year
Foundation / Pre-U S$ 12,000 –  S$ 18,000
Diploma S$ 6,000 –  S$ 18,000
Bachelor’s degree  S$ 30,000 –  S$ 60,000 
Master’s degree S$ 30,000 –  S$ 50,000 (non-medical programmes)
 S$ 50,000 –  S$ 90,000 (medical programmes)


The last thing you should know before studying in Singapore is the weather here. Being located right at the equator, Singapore only have one season all year round which is summer. Singapore is a very sunny and humid country with its temperature ranging from 25 – 30 degree Celsius, with occasional rain. Thus, if you are from a cold country, you definitely will have to get used to the hot weather here and dress lightly.

Reference, n.d. Study in Singapore. [Online]
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[Accessed 22 11 2019]., 2017. Key facts for international students in Singapore. [Online]
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[Accessed 20 11 2019].

The Education Abroad Network, 2018. Tips for Studying Abroad in Singapore. [Online]
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[Accessed 20 11 2019].

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