Well, there might be some cheaper (and smarter) alternatives that Singaporeans are not yet accustomed to considering. Why not do what this young American, Christopher Liu, did?
ST July 4, 2006S$4,776 is also a lot cheaper than what Singaporeans pay to study in Singapore. According to this Singapore government website, university fees in Singapore range from about S$6,220 per academic year for non-lab based courses to $17,820 per academic year for medical / dental courses.
China gets a flood of foreign students
By China Correspondent, Tracy Quek
BEIJING - MR CHRISTOPHER Liu was into his first month of studies at Columbia University in New York, when the pull of China became too strong to resist.
So he dropped out and headed East.
The American-born Chinese enrolled in the prestigious Beijing University for a four-year degree course in international relations.
Now in his third year, Mr Liu, 21, told The Straits Times he did not want to miss out on the action in fast-changing China.
'I'm seeing a country transform before my very eyes,' he said.
Drawn by the country's meteoric economic rise and growing political clout on the world stage, more international students are heading to China for higher studies and a close-up view of its transformation from third-world nation to world power.
Many hope to work in China or in jobs that involve dealing with the world's fourth-largest economy. Getting a foot in the door early, they say, will give them an edge.
For its part, China - traditionally a major source of international students - is going all out to woo foreign students, with ambitious plans to become a top destination for higher education.
To attract the world's best and brightest, Beijing will give out more scholarships.
This year, the China Scholarship Council will raise the number of sponsored overseas students from 6,700 to 10,000, and more university fairs will be held overseas to recruit students.
Beijing has ambitions for its top universities to become world-class institutions that rival Britain's Oxbridge and the United States' Ivy League colleges.
In the global race for international students, experts see China as a formidable force to be reckoned with.
One strong advantage is its relatively low costs.
Fees and the cost of living, even in its most prosperous cities, are still lower compared to those in most developed countries.
Take Mr Liu, who moved here from the US.
His US$3,000 (S$4,776) yearly tuition is considerably more than the 5,000 yuan (S$1,000) local students pay, but is a tenth of the US$30,000 he would have paid in the US.
It's pertinent to note that Chinese universities are quite comparable to Singapore universities as well. Here - check it out. In this ranking, five universities in China are ranked equally with NTU, and two are ranked above.
The director of the Centre for Research in International Education at Australia's Monash University, Dr Simon Marginson, calls the growth of higher education capacity in China in the last 10 years phenomenal.If you are a young Singaporean, even if you could enter NUS, NTU or SMU, I think it is viable to consider studying in a China university anyway. China is so rapidly becoming a global economic powerhouse. Just living there for three or four years, getting yourself exposed to its culture and lifestyle, is going to be a valuable learning experience.
He means the hefty investments in university construction and staff recruitment to raise quality, as well as the number of places available.
'Living and studying in China provides the opportunity to acquire or improve skills in the Chinese language and way of life,' he said.
Viewed against the country's economic growth and the business opportunities, he said, it all adds up to making China increasingly attractive for foreign students.
From only a trickle of foreign students in the 1950s, there is now a flood.
Last year a record 141,087 arrived, up about 27 per cent from 2004, according to Education Ministry statistics, and most are full fee-paying students.
South Koreans, numbering around 40,000, make up the bulk, followed by Japanese (14,000) and Americans (8,000).
About 30 per cent of the total are degree students, and this number has grown from about 20 per cent five years ago.
While most foreigners come to learn the Chinese language, there are signs that more are opting for other fields such as economics, law, and medicine.
These specialisations became more popular after China's entry into the World Trade Organisation in 2001, education officials said.
'Higher education in China has gone through tremendous change, from a system under a centrally planned economy to operating according to market forces,' said Professor Yu Fuzeng, a former president of the Chinese Association of Universities and Colleges for Foreign Student Affairs.
'Now, universities can recruit foreign students freely. This means competition and this promotes upgrading. The better your quality, the more students you will attract.'
And you could still have a bit of the US or American or (gasp!) Singapore university experience too, while you're there.
The arrival of foreign-run programmes is creating a more varied higher-education landscape too.So, Singaporeans, don't despair if you've lost a place in NUS or NTU to a foreign student. There's hope. The world is big. Look beyond the little red dot. It could even lead to a brighter future.
There are already more than 700 foreign academic programmes available in China, reports say.
American colleges lead with more than 150 programmes.
Universities from Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan and Singapore have also come.
In 2004, Britain's Nottingham University became the first foreign university with its own campus, in the south-eastern city of Ningbo.
Another British institution, the University of Liverpool, will open its campus at Suzhou, in southern China, in September.
The chief executive vice-president of Nottingham at Ningbo, Professor Ian Gow, predicts: 'In future, each province in China could attract at least one level-one, top-class university, and maybe a level two or three university, from an English-speaking country.
'The attraction for us is the same as with multinationals. You can't afford not dealing with China, whether you want to compete or collaborate.'
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