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Thursday January 24th 2019

Cost of financing medical study abroad for Singaporean: $600, 000!

Thanks Jeff for allowing to conduct this online interview, you have informed us that your son is going overseas for his medical study  abroad soon, why is this so?

A: As Medicine is his only passion, his only route at the moment was to do it at NUS Medical School, but unfortunately, he didn’t make the cut at the final (interview) stage where only about 260 students were selected. Therefore, that leaves him with no choice but to do it overseas.¬†

Did your son try to apply for the local unis at all and were there any reasons for the rejection?

A: Yes, he applied to NUS but failed to make it past the interview stage. No reasons were given as the interview was very subjective – at the mercy of the interviewers.

How are  his grades like?

A: A-level As for Maths/Chemistry/Physics at H2 and A for GP at H1.

How much do you think you will need to spend on his overseas study for the next few years?

A: We were told it could need some S$100,000 for each year of study in Australia, so for the 6-year duration, some S$600,000. 

Last year, 60% of doctors who registered with Singapore Medical Association were foreigners, what is your opinion on this?

A: I find this very ironic: on the one hand, so many highly qualified students were denied the chance to study locally (on subsidised basis) but on the other hand, the government has to “import” 60% of the requirement from overseas (how stringent the screening process notwithstanding). I really have serious doubt on the quality of leaders at MOE and MOH as this is clearly a problem of lack of foresight and poor planning¬†- and mind you, this has been brought up many times in the past (by me and others), not that this is a very recent problem.¬†

Do you think that our local unis should expand it’s intake of 300 medical students (for NUS medical faulty)?

A: Definitely yes, although they are already in the process of adding additional intakes at Duke-NUS (graduate level) and NTU-Imperial. Still, with the additional intakes, it may not be enough to meet the demand annually, we we may continue to see the government “importing” foreigners to fill the gaps while our very own highly qualified students are still denied the chance to study Medicine locally.

What are the chances of your son staying on in a foreign country after graduation and why so?

A: I would say, very very high as I understand the working conditions and general living condition/standard is much higher in Australia, besides the better opportunity to specialize. As an aside, it has been reported that he may be better off returning to Singapore as a “foreign talent” given the perks accorded to them as compared to citizens.¬†

If you are the education  minister, what area would you like to see revamp and why?

A: I have written to the government (as well as having my article published in the Straits Times) since 2003 (almost 10 year ago) that in a globalized world, Singapore citizens (I deliberately use citizens as Singaporeans include PRs as far as the government is concerned) not only have to compete against local citizens but against the rest of the world (against the likes of China and India where their graduates with at least a degree run into tens or hundreds of millions, many times the population of Singapore), so one of my first priority will be to increase the percentage of each cohort with at least a local university undergraduate degree (from around 20-25% now) to perhaps 50% or more (even 80%). Like I said, Singapore’s only resource in their citizens, and the only way forward for its citizens to have a better life and compete with the upcoming behemoths – China, India and other BRIC (Russia and Brazil) and TIMS (Turkey, Indonesia, Mexico and South Africa), fellow Tigers (South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong) and traditional first world countries like USA, UK, EU countries, etc.. – is to provide sufficient opportunities for them to at least have an undergraduate degree locally (as getting it overseas is an expensive affair). This is one area the government must spent.

Another area of focus is entrepreneurship – the universities must equip each graduate with entrepreneurship skills as mass employment opportunities with decent salaries are a thing of the past, so it is important that each Singapore citizen is equipped to come out on his or her own to start up a business to survive in a globalized world.



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7 Responses to “Cost of financing medical study abroad for Singaporean: $600, 000!”

  1. john168 says:

    we need to realize that we are citizens of the world and we are far more mobile than what we think we are. Forget about nationalism/patriotism, you have to look out for yourself and care for your loved ones, regardless of which countries you may reside in. We can only pledge our allegiance to whichever countries that can provide positively to us.

  2. abc says:

    In the first place, over the last 50 years who did Jeff vote for?? The fact that he can spend or borrow $600K for his son’s education shows that he is comfortably wealthy or at least upper-middle class, the top 20% of S’pore’s society. Sinkies tend to vote with lazy brains for PAP, especially when life is good and made mentally slothful with ease and comfort. Only when kena slapped by reality or fall thru the cracks then wake up. Then start to complain and hold up yourself as victims of injustice.

  3. abc says:

    The main reason why the son was rejected is simply becoz his grades not good enough. Only 3 A-levels when the minimum standard for medicine is 4 A-levels (full As) and credit in 2 Special Papers. And where is the Biology?? They also expect top CCA experience and results — top sportsmen, champion school debators (remember Vivian?), gold medalists of maths/physics/chemistry/biology international olympiads.

    Every year you have over 1,000 people applying for medicine in NUS. They have all the A’s, all the S-Papers. Half of them also have CCAs such as school team captains, president of clubs/student unions, school champion, etc etc. Many have 6 or 8 A-level subjects — all A’s in addition to the Special Papers.

    The only way to get into medicine with less than the above results is to have connections, or be related to some minister or the ruling party.

  4. Gilbert Goh says:

    Hi abc,

    I still feel that NUS should expands it’s medical faculty as currently it only has places for 260 medical students each year.

    This is ironical as we need at least a thousand more doctors due to our fast aging population by 2015.

    Moreover, 60% of doctors registered last year with our SMA are foreigners – making a mockery of our medical profession.

    Many doctors who finish their 5-year bond in our public hopsitals also move on to private practice or overseas – leaving behind a huge vacuum which our government is trying to fill by bringing in more foreign doctors.

    A friend told me how a foreign doctor from Kuching was brought in last year with a starting salary of only $7500 – of course if converted into ringgit it will be an enormous sum for the Malaysian doctor.

    Even a locum doctor working for a GP clinic can make more than that amount.

    Gilbert Goh

  5. ajohor says:

    jeff et al

    If the singapore govt were to offer, non-subsidised medical places or uni places, in which most probably Jeff’s child is taking, unless he like a number of Singaporeans obtain PR there, would this make people happier.

    making no apologies for the govt of the day, but will people be happier once there is a flood of graduates, we will basically just like Japan or Finland have degree holding taxi drivers.

    There is a need to increase places but to simply triple it or quadruple it and than to cut back is ridiculous, so is everyone here going to legislate that the top medical specialists must be forced to lecture (aka Russia or China circa 80s so that there is sufficient faculty members).
    There needs to be an increase of say 50%.

    Please note you need labs, specialised equipment, unclaimed cadavers(dead bodies) etc.
    so anyone here willing to donate the above (most difficult donate their bodies for medical research?)

    Would people be happy than since gilbert brought up the case of the Malaysian doctor from Kuching, that all medical graduates must serve minimum 2 years before going to private practice.

    You are not comparing like with like for locums as they do not have tenure. Further if increased medical expenses to doctors, can this be recovered from the population.


  6. abc says:

    As to why they make the numbers small and rare for politically and economically sensitive professions like doctors and lawyers, the govt will need to reveal secret discussions and papers between past Cabinets and SMC and LawSoc.

    $7500 is actually quite generous salary if in govt-linked hospitals and medical centres, unless that doctor has a number of years of solid experience. NUS-grad doctors often have only about $5K-$6K salaries even after 2 years after their housemanship. That’s why most start studying for their Masters or postgrad to become specialist immediately from day 1 after completing their housemanship. By the time they complete their 5-year bond, 70% local doctors are specialist-qualified and practising their specialisation for 2 years already. Then it’s sayonara to the public hospitals and hello to places like Mount Elisabeth, Raffles hospital, Gleneagles, Thompson medical and Camden medical.

  7. Charles says:

    If you have problems financing your kids studies, take a look at continental europe. Esp. Scandinavia and the German speaking countries. University education is basically free there also for foreigners. Quality is good, esp. in engineering. Only catch is you have to learn the language as the courses are typically not in English. But worth investing the money for language courses here in Singapore and save later big time on university fees.

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