17 Oct How Much Does Tuition Cost?
Tuition – A Billion Dollar Industry
Tuition is officially a billion-dollar industry in Singapore. According to the Singapore Department of Statistics’ 2019 Household Expenditure Survey, Singapore households spent $1.4 billion SGD on tuition between the period of October 2017 to September 2018 (CNA, 2019). The value of the tuition industry has steadily climbed over the years, upwards from $650 million a decade ago.
Parents Recognise the Importance of Tuition
The average household expenditure on tuition amounted to $88.40 SGD per month. This was a new record high spent, having risen from $79.90 SGD per month in AY2012/13. While some of the increase can be attributed to inflation, social factors have also played a hand in this. Despite recent educational reforms from the Ministry of Education to reduce the focus on academic grades, parents are still conscious of the importance of academic grades. For many, tuition currently still serves as an insurance for their child’s educational journey. Moreover, parents are also afraid of their child having less competitive advantages against their peers.
The Number of Tuition Centres is on the Rise
The number of tuition and enrichment centres have grown in tandem with the rise in expenditure in the industry. In 2012, the number stood at 700, while the survey found that more than 950 such centres were officially registered. Additionally, tuition currently varies greatly, from that of part time student tutors to full time tuition centre staff, from new neighbourhood-based centres to that of branded enrichment centres.
Branded Tuition Centres Are in Demand
Another stark finding from the survey is that higher income families spend as much as 4 times more on tuition than families in the bottom 20% percentile. This has been fuelled by the pursuit of branded tuition centres and their household-name tutors. The perception held by parents is that these top enrichment centres offer a premium over other tuition alternatives.
Can Tuition Be Affordable?
As briefly mentioned above, tutors now come from all walks of life. They may be part time student tutors looking for extra pocket money, ex-NIE teachers who now run their own private tuition sessions, professional tutors from small neighbourhood tuition centres or star tutors from branded enrichment centres. Each category of tutor may charge very different rates. Furthermore, depending on the level of the student – Pre-school, primary, secondary or junior college, tuition fees differ to account for the difference in complexity of the subjects taught.
To provide parents a guide on the costs of tuition in Singapore, we have provided an overview on the prices charged at different levels. Read on to find out more.
Tuition for Pre-Schoolers
Tuition for pre-schoolers covers the time from nursery to kindergarten 2, with a subject pool including english, mother tongue and math. At this level, tuition fees range from $60-$240 per month (4 lessons x 1.5h).
Tuition for Primary Students
Primary school tuition Singapore classes (primary 1 to 6 students) cover a subject pool including English, Mother tongue, Math and Science. The biggest cost difference at this level exists between home tutors and tuition centres. Tuition centres often charge cheaper than that of private tutors as they enjoy economies of scale from being able to teach more students at once. In general, tuition fees range from $80-$350 per month (4 lessons x 1.5h).
Tuition for Secondary Students
Lower and upper secondary students take vastly different subjects; thus, tuition costs do vary greater than that at previous levels. Schools commonly offer 8 or more subjects in secondary 1 & 2, including english, mother tongue, science, mathematics, principle of accounting, geography, history and literature. As students enter upper secondary, they will have to choose their subject combination. This includes the number of subjects and the specialised subjects that they are interested in. Math subjects include elementary math and additional math while science subjects include combination science, physics, chemistry and biology. Additionally, humanities-based subjects such as combined humanities, art, literature, geography, history and social science may be offered by the school. Secondary school tuition fees range from $100-$600 per month (4 lessons x 1.5h).
Tuition for Junior College Students
After secondary school, students will proceed into the tertiary portion of their education journey. At this point, they would have many paths to choose from. For the sake of brevity, we have chosen to limit coverage in this article to junior college students as they engage private tuition services most commonly out of their education group. Tuition fees range from $200-$1000 per month (4 lessons x 3h).
Why is there a large variance in tuition fees?
The large variance in tuition fees is mainly caused by the followings:
1. Different types of tuition programs offered (group tuition or individual session as well as niche subjects offered for tuition such as management and computer studies etc)
2. The location of the venue (driven by rental costs)
3. Operating and marketing cost (profit driven)
4. Customisation of tuition program (extension of lesson duration, increase number of lessons, special focus on certain topics as requested by student)
Is Tuition Affordable?
Parents have to make a prudent decision in sourcing tuition for their children. Tuition fees is definitely one of the deciding factors as it affects their monthly disposable income and savings. With proper market research, there is likely a tuition centre offering the right price and service that fit well within their expectation. Although tuition incurs a moderate to significant amount of expenses in the family, most parents are still willing to invest in tuition as it helps to clarify the children’s doubts in the subject that they need help in and raises the chances of success in their children’s education.
There is no right price for tuition. Affordable fees do not necessarily translate a trade off in lesson quality while premium fees do not necessarily warrant good results. The value of learning is priceless.
A. How do I know that I am not overpaying my children’s tuition fees?
B. Which tutor suits my child best?
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*Disclaimer: All findings listed in this article have been collated from secondary sources within the tuition industry in Singapore. They do not represent the absolute tuition rates of all tuition providers in Singapore. Additionally, any views or opinions expressed in this article are personal and belong solely to the blog owner. They do not represent those of people, institutions or organizations that the owner may or may not be associated with in a professional or personal capacity. Any views are not intended to malign any demographic, ethnic group, club, organization, company or individual.