Singapore Expats

Studying in Singapore: Obtaining a Study Pass

Known for being a player in the big leagues when it comes to education, Singapore draws students from all over the world. Anxious parents may even go so far as to make the sacrifice to uproot their families and move to this sunny island in order to give their children a Singaporean education - one that has routinely produced some of the best students in the world when it comes to science and mathematics.

However, any foreigner who wishes to be a full-time student in Singapore would need to apply for a Student’s Pass. This does not include students who are already in Singapore on a Dependent Pass and students who hold an Immigration Exemption Order.

Students who hold a Short Term Visit Pass and are able to complete the course within the valid period of said pass are also not required to obtain a separate study pass. This is provided that the course attended by the student is a stand-alone module, and does not involve practical occupational training, industrial attachment, and is also not conducted at business premises such as hair, nail or beauty salons.

Study passes are provided by six different types of educational institutions:

  1. Approved Private Education Organisation
  2. MOE-registered Kindergarten/Childcare Centre licensed by MSF
  3. Foreign System Schools
  4. Institutes of Technical Education
  5. Government/Government-Aided/Independent Schools
  6. Polytechnics and Universities

Depending on the category, the requirements when applying for a Student’s Pass would differ. If in doubt, always check the Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website.

Category 1: Approved Private Education Organisations

Since 2009, all Private Education Organisations (PEO) in Singapore are required to be awarded the EduTrust certificate in order to offer foreign students a place in their academy. Using EduTrust, the Ministry of Education regulates the private education system here in Singapore by inspecting, grading and awarding educational institutions with quality rankings and certificates. The top award is the EduTrust Star, followed by the EduTrust, and lastly, the EduTrust Provisional Award. Each certificate is an assurance of the quality of the education provided and the reliability of the academy in providing the advertised services.

Student’s Pass applicants are to apply for the Student’s Pass only after they have been accepted by the educational institution. The pass would be issued within a month from the course’s commencement date. In general, a new application in this category would take up to 4 weeks to be processed, and the result would also be sent to the PEO. Students who wish to transfer courses or schools are to submit an application at least 4 weeks before the commencement of the course.

Check to see if your school is certified by EduTrust (here).

For a complete list of requirements, please visit the website (here).

All applications and pass renewals must be submitted online (here).

Category 2: MOE-registered Kindergarten/Childcare Centre licensed by MSF

Applications for a Student’s Pass in this category should be submitted between 2 to 6 months before the commencement date of the course. As always, applicants should only apply after they have received approval from the educational institution. As such, applicants should ensure that he or she receives approval from the educational institute two months before the course commencement date at the very latest. As there is no official list of MOE-registered kindergartens, do check with your preferred school to see if they meet this requirement.

Check to see if your childcare centre is licensed by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) (here).

For a complete list of requirements, please visit the website (here).

All applications and pass renewals must be submitted online (here).

Category 3: Foreign System Schools

Since 2011, all Foreign System Schools (FSS) which intend to offer school placement to international students have also been required to obtain a valid EduTrust certificate. All new applications must be submitted at least one month before course commencement, and should be submitted only after the applicant has been accepted by the educational institution. In general, the processing time needed for each application is 5 working days.

Check to see if your school is certified by EduTrust (here).

For a complete list of requirements, please visit the website (here).

All applications and pass renewals must be submitted online (here).

Foreign students who are keen to apply for a Student’s Pass under categories 1 to 3 might find it a much simpler process as compared to those who seek to apply for a place in government schools, polytechnics and universities. The latter are obliged to fulfil more stringent requirements, which include for instance, the need to find a local sponsor and even a medical examination.

However, parents who are keen on other education options in Singapore may find the application process to be far more stringent, due to the high demand and limited places. As a result of the stellar performance of their students, local government schools and universities are particularly popular.

For instance, did you know that both the National University of Singapore as well as Nanyang Technological University are among the top 15 universities in the world? Both are the only Asian universities to be ranked in the top 20 universities of the world. The former has claimed the 12th position while the latter comes close after in 13th place, according to the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) rankings for 2015/16.  

If you’re keen on studying in a government school, polytechnic or university, take a look at the requirements below that are needed in order to obtain your study pass.

Category 4: Institutes of Technical Education

Unlike students who belong to categories 1 to 3, foreign students who are keen to enter any Institute of Technical Education (ITE) would need to find a local sponsor. This sponsor must be a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident. Companies or organisations may not act as sponsors.

In order to apply for a student pass under this category, the student must first apply to the school, receive a Registration Acknowledgment Letter from the school, and then use the SOLAR+ Reference Number provided in the letter to complete his part of the application. The local sponsor would conclude the process by completing the form on SOLAR+ and submitting it to ICA. The general processing time needed for each application is 5 working days.

For a complete list of requirements, please visit the website (here).

All applications and pass renewals must be submitted online (here).

Category 5: Government/Government-Aided/Independent Schools

The rules and procedures for foreign students who are keen to enter government, government-aided or independent schools are similar to those in Category 4. Students would need to find a local sponsor for their application. This sponsor must be a Singapore Citizen or Singapore Permanent Resident. Companies or organisations may not act as sponsors.

For a complete list of requirements, please visit the website (here).

All applications and pass renewals must be submitted online (here).

Category 6: Polytechnics and Universities

Due to the limited spaces available, the rules for foreign students who wish to enter Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) are the most stringent of all.

Check to see if the school you’re applying for falls into one of these IHL categories:

Local Universities

  • National University of Singapore
  • Nanyang Technological University
  • Singapore Management University
  • Singapore Institute of Technology
  • Singapore University of Technology and Design
  • Nanyang Polytechnic
  • Ngee Ann Polytechnic
  • Republic Polytechnic
  • Singapore Polytechnic
  • Temasek Polytechnic

Local Polytechnics

  • Nanyang Polytechnic
  • Ngee Ann Polytechnic
  • Republic Polytechnic
  • Singapore Polytechnic
  • Temasek Polytechnic 

Offshore Institutes with Local Campuses

  • Ecole Superieure Des Sciences Economiques Et Commerciales (ESSEC)
  • Insead (Singapore)
  • NYU Tisch School of the Arts
  • S P Jain School of Global Management Pte Ltd 
  • The University of Chicago Booth School of Business (Singapore)
  • University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Singapore
  • DigiPen Institute of Technology Singapore
  • German Institute of Science and Technology - TUM Asia 
  • Sorbonne Assas International Law School


Once you have applied to one of these schools and offered a place as a full-time student in Singapore, you may begin to apply for a Student’s Pass using SOLAR. This application must be submitted at least one month before the course begins, and not more than two months in advance.

Generally, applicants who do not need a visa to enter Singapore will have their application processed within 5 working days, while others would require 10 working days.

Procedure

  1. The school will register the student on the SOLAR platform.
  2. The student will receive a registration acknowledgement notice with SOLAR login information.
  3. The student may login to SOLAR to submit eForm 16. Upon submitting the form, the student must print a copy of the form to submit it to the Student’s Pass Unit at ICA.
  4. Successful applicants would be given an In-Principle Approval (IPA) from ICA through the school. Those who require a visa to enter Singapore, would have their visa included in the IPA letter as well.
  5. Successful applicants would then enter Singapore for either an offsite enrolment as advised by the school, or a visit to the ICA Building to complete the formalities.
  6. Successful applicants would have to provide a medical report, among other documents, to complete the formalities. The medical report may be done in Singapore or in their home countries. However, if the language of the report is not in English, an official translation would be needed. The medical report has to follow the form format (here).

A Student’s Pass for IHL students would generally be granted for the full duration of the course. They would not need to apply for a separate work permit in order to work during vacation time, or if they intend to work less than 16 hours per week during the school term.                     

For a complete list of requirements, please visit the website (here).

All applications must be submitted online (here).

22 Jun 2016
Rayne

   

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