Some online articles have been peddling a claim that there is a minimum 20% quota for foreign students in our Autonomous Universities, a.k.a. public universities.*

Fact: There is no such minimum quota.

While having some foreign students benefits Singaporeans (e.g., they add vibrancy to campuses, and enhance students’ global awareness and cross-cultural skills, which prepare Singaporean students for the global market place), Singapore is not actively courting foreign students to fulfil any form of minimum quota. Notwithstanding that, the best universities in the U.S., U.K., Australia and most countries have foreign students in their intake; it is part and parcel of being a world-class institute of higher learning.

It is public information that foreign students make up a small percentage of the intake at our public universities. In 2017, when replying to a Parliamentary Question on the percentage of foreigners attending our public universities, Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung stated that foreign students make up only around 10% of the universities’ total undergraduate intake. This remains the case today.

*Autonomous Universities = National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology and Design, Singapore Institute of Technology and Singapore University of Social Sciences.

MOE’s Parliamentary Reply (3 July 2017)

This article was updated on 1 March 2018. For latest updates, head over to