New measures to strengthen student protection in private schools
SINGAPORE, 21 October 2016 – The Committee for Private Education (CPE) will introduce new measures to strengthen the protection of students in the private education sector and increase information transparency for prospective students.
The new measures include:
a. Requiring Private Education Institutions (PEIs) offering External Degree Programmes (EDPs) to participate in a CPE-run annual Graduate Employment Survey, the results of which will be published at the institution level;
b. Requiring PEIs offering EDPs and programmes that articulate into EDPs to obtain EduTrust certification;
c. Requiring all PEIs to set appropriate minimum academic entry requirements for admitting fresh school leavers who do not have relevant working experience;
d. Imposing minimum financial requirements on all PEIs; and
e. Enhancing standards for EduTrust certification.
MANDATORY PARTICIPATION IN GRADUATE EMPLOYMENT SURVEY
It will be mandatory for all PEIs offering EDPs to participate in CPE’s annual Graduate Employment Survey. This builds on CPE’s pilot survey of 2014 graduates, conducted between December 2015 and June 2016.
The survey results will be published on CPE’s website where the employment outcomes of each PEI will be reflected. This will better enable prospective students to make better informed education and career choices.
EDUTRUST CERTIFICATION REQUIRED TO OFFER EDPS
To strengthen protection for students, all PEIs that offer EDPs and programmes that articulate into EDPs will be required to obtain EduTrust certification (4-year).
This will take immediate effect for new PEIs or existing PEIs that do not currently offer such programmes but intend to do so. Existing PEIs that already offer EDPs currently will have up till 1 June 2018 to obtain EduTrust certification, provided that they submit an application for EduTrust certification by 1 June 2017.
MINIMUM ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
PEIs will be required to set appropriate minimum academic entry requirements for fresh school leavers enrolling into EDPs and programmes that articulate into EDPs. PEIs will take reference from the following guidelines when setting their admission criteria:
a. Admission to an EDP will require:
i. GCE A-Level, IB Diploma, or other equivalent pre-university certifications; or
ii. polytechnic diploma or equivalent; or
iii. PEI qualification that provides direct articulation into an EDP.
b. Admission to a programme that articulates to an EDP will require:
i. GCE O-Level or equivalent; or
ii. Nitec, Higher Nitec or equivalent
These minimum academic entry requirements apply to fresh school leavers who do not have relevant working experience, and are in line with existing industry practices. By establishing these benchmarks explicitly, prospective students will be clearer about the prerequisites for such courses. Individual PEIs may set more stringent entry requirements and should exercise due diligence in their admissions process to ensure that students are able to cope with their programmes.
PEIs will have the flexibility to admit mature students who do not meet the above minimum academic entry requirements but have prior learning or work experience in the relevant fields. PEIs will have to seek CPE’s approval for their criteria and demonstrate that they have the necessary systems and processes in place to assess applications from mature students.
The guidelines on admission criteria will apply with immediate effect to all new EDPs and programmes which articulate into EDPs. Existing PEIs will have up till 1 June 2017 to revise the admission criteria of programmes that do not currently meet the requirements.
MINIMUM FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS
Minimum financial requirements will be imposed on all PEIs to strengthen student protection by ensuring that PEIs have adequate financial capabilities to operate. A minimum paid-up capital of $100,000 will be required of all new PEIs with immediate effect and all existing PEIs will be required to meet a minimum credit rating by 1 June 2017.
ENHANCEMENTS TO EDUTRUST STANDARDS
The EduTrust standards will also be enhanced to place greater emphasis on academic processes and student education outcomes. The enhanced EduTrust standards will be released in January 2017 and will take effect on 1 June 2017. Only PEIs that have at least a 4-year Enhanced Registration Framework registration period will be able to apply for EduTrust certification.
Existing PEI students will not be affected by the changes. CPE will continue to review its regulatory framework regularly to safeguard the interests of students. Notwithstanding this, prospective students must do their research, and be aware of their rights and obligations, before they enrol in a PEI. PEIs should also align their programmes with industry needs and strive to achieve good employment outcomes for their graduates.
Mr Brandon Lee, Director-General (Private Education), SkillsFuture Singapore said, “As the sector matures, we need to ensure that institutions continue to have sound foundations on which to operate and deliver the quality of training that students expect. The new measures are aimed at doing so, and will provide additional safeguards for students who choose to enrol with Private Education Institutions. At the same time, we wish to remind students of the need to exercise due diligence by researching and assessing the suitability of the various education pathways available. We also hope that the enhanced information transparency will be useful in helping students make more informed decisions.”
 Currently, EduTrust is a voluntary quality assurance scheme for PEIs.