University tuition fees increased by up to 10.5% per annum, against government spending per university student increased by only 1.4% per annum?

After writing “University fees up 7% p.a., surplus $1.4b, expenditure up 2%?” (Apr 29) – my regular insider ES sent me the following very interesting information from 1987:-

According to the article “More to be spent on quality in schools” (Straits Times, Mar 5, 1987) – “Government was spending each year $14,400 to educate a student at the university”.

For the academic year 1986/87 – the tuition fee for all courses (except dentistry and medicine at $1,300) was only $1,200.

According to NUS’s web site – the tuition fee for normal courses will increase to $8,200 this year.

6.4% p.a. increase in fees?

Since the tuition fee was only $1,200 in 1987, does it mean that fees have increased by about 6.4 per cent per annum, in the last 31 years or so?

For dentistry and medicine, the fee increase is a whopping 10.5 per cent per annum.

Expenditure per University student: 1.4% p.a. increase?

In contrast, Government Recurrent Expenditure on Education per Student for University was an annual increase of only about 1.4 per cent from 1987 to 2017 (30 years), from $14,400 to $21,853.

2% inflation?

Also, inflation increased by about 2 per cent per annum from 1987 to 2017 (30 years).

So, fees increased about 6.4 per cent per annum, versus Expenditure per Student at about 1.4 per cent and inflation of about 2 per cent?

5% p.a. GDP growth?

Moreover, I understand that GDP growth was about five per cent per annum, over the 30 years, from 1987 to 2017.

Why wasn’t GDP growth translated into more spending on university students?


Leong Sze Hian



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