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MOE to tighten processes to prevent bond-breaking by foreign students
THE Ministry of Education (MOE) said on Tuesday it has worked with the universities in Singapore to tighten processes to monitor and enforce scholarship bonds, following a report from the Auditor-General's Office Singapore (AGO) that ticked off MOE for a lack of oversight over these bonds.
In response to the report, MOE said the default rates have fallen "significantly" over the last three years. Just one per cent of the foreign students who graduated over the last three years and hold scholarships broke their bonds intentionally. Another 4 per cent of these "are still being contacted".
The remainder are fulfilling their bonds; a small group has either sought deferment or is unable to fulfil the bonds due to medical reasons.
Most of the lapses flagged by the AGO were from earlier graduation batches, before "enhanced measures" were fully implemented.
"The breaking of scholarship bonds by international students is a matter of serious concern... MOE regards the breaking of bonds as an ignoble act," the ministry said in a media statement.
"MOE will continue to work closely with the universities to ensure that the processes are applied rigorously, and that international students take their obligations seriously."
In its annual audit of the Singapore government, the AGO also rapped MOE for failing to ensure that due student loans totalling S$228 million as at June 30, 2015, were promptly recovered. It said two universities, the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University, had relied on outsourced agents to monitor and recover the loans.
MOE said it is working closely with the universities to ensure prompt recovery of student loans that are in arrears.