Guide for Choosing a PEI
Your education is the key to your future. As such, it is important for you to invest time and effort to make sure that you end up with a good quality education that will help you advance in your career.
Before signing up with a PEI, you should find out more about its track record, reputation, and the courses it offers. Where possible, you should visit the school's premises and observe the study environment prior to making your decision.
Make Sure the PEI is Registered with the CPE
All PEIs must be registered with the CPE in order to operate in Singapore. To be registered, the PEI must meet the basic requirements in corporate governance, quality of provision, and information transparency.
A PEI must be either a registered society or company.
The premises and facilities of the PEI must be cleared or approved by the respective regulatory authorities. Except for lessons conducted in the auditorium and lecture halls, each student should have a classroom space of at least 1.5 square metres. If it has only one classroom, the PEI is not allowed to share premises with more than one other PEI; if there is more than one classroom, sharing of premises is limited to a maximum of three PEIs.
Academic and Examination Boards
Unless otherwise permitted by the CPE, all PEIs should have an Academic Board and an Examination Board, to oversee and help make sure that the quality of academic programmes and examination processes in the school are maintained.
Managers of a PEI
In every PEI, the manager(s) is responsible for the proper functioning of the PEI. They play a very important role, especially in maintaining standards in corporate governance and information disclosure.
In the unfortunate event of closure of a PEI, the school's manager(s) must ensure that all enrolled students are informed of the impending closure, and necessary placed-out arrangements are made for them to complete the same course or a similar course in another registered PEI. The manager(s) is also required by law to inform the CPE in advance of their school closure.
PEIs in Singapore are required by law to disclose accurate information about themselves and the courses they offer. In all advertisements, PEIs are only allowed to refer to themselves as being ‘registered’ with the CPE. They are not allowed to use words like “approved”, “accredited”, “recognised” or “endorsed”.
It is an offence for PEIs to make false claims or intentionally mislead students in their advertisements.
Courses and Teachers
PEIs are only allowed to offer courses which have been permitted by the CPE, except for certificate level courses which are shorter than one month full-time or 50 hours in duration. (Definition of full-time is defined as minimum of five days per week and minimum of three hours per day for one month).
PEIs must also ensure that suitable teachers are deployed to teach the modules or subjects of the courses. These teachers must meet at least the baseline requirements in terms of academic qualifications and related working experience as specified by the CPE. The PEIs must further ensure that the qualifications of the teachers are conferred by education institutions which are recognised by the relevant authority in the country or territory in which they are established, and that the qualifications have not been conferred as honorary degrees.
For vocational courses, teachers who do not have the relevant academic qualifications must have at least five years of relevant working experience in order to teach the programs.
Certificates Issued by PEIs
As Singapore does not have a central authority that accords recognition to certificates and/or qualifications obtained from PEIs, recognition and acceptance of certificates for employment or further study are entirely at the discretion of the individual prospective employer or education institution.
In Singapore, PEIs are only allowed to issue certificates and award qualifications in their own names up to Advanced Diploma level. Only Singapore’s autonomous universities and approved private universities (comprehensive and specialised) are allowed to offer their own degrees. Interested students may refer to http://www.moe.gov.sg/education/post-secondary/ for more information on these post-secondary institutions.
PEIs may offer external degree programmes through partnerships with bona fide foreign universities. Only external degree programmes permitted by the CPE are allowed to be conducted or offered in Singapore.
Selecting a Course at a PEI
Here are some questions to help you determine whether a PEI and the courses it offers are reliable, especially those that are offered online:
Can the diploma or degree from the PEI be purchased or ordered? If so, beware as it might be a degree mill.
Does the PEI claim accreditation when there is no evidence of this status?
What are the required hours of attendance?
Are there any academic assessments? How easy is it for students to earn credits?
Is the duration required to obtain a diploma or a degree much shorter than the generally accepted standards in most public or accredited institutions?
Can the diplomas or degrees be obtained solely on experience or resume review?
Is the registered office of the PEI identified only through a telephone number, an email address or a mail box address?
Does the PEI assert or highlight that accreditation is not needed when it is from a country where recognised or reputable institutions are accredited?
Fee Protection Scheme
The Fee Protection Scheme protects the fees students have paid to PEIs.
PEIs must subscribe to an insurance scheme approved by the CPE if the PEI wishes to collect more than two months of course fees at any one time. There are two types of insurance schemes: industry-wide coverage (IWC) and the Fee Protection Scheme (FPS). For a new PEI undergoing ERF registration, an IWC must be purchased if the PEI wishes to collect more than two months course fee at any one time. If not, a letter of undertaking must be submitted to declare that the PEI will not be collecting more than two months course fee.
If a registered PEI wishes to apply for EduTrust certification, they may then replace their IWC with FPS.
All PEIs and their students must sign a contract for any course longer than two months in duration, regardless of whether the course is full-time or part-time. Before signing the contract, you should read through the Advisory Note to Students and ensure that the following information has been included in the student contract, and is accurate:
Duration of the course, and whether it is offered on a full- or part-time basis;
Commencement date and end date of the course;
Scheduled holidays, if any;
Dates of all examinations, major assessments and assignments;
Expected release date of the final examination results, which should not be more than three months after the examination was completed unless otherwise permitted by the CPE;
Expected date of conferment of the award;
Full names of the developer or proprietor of the course, and the person/organisation/institution conferring the award;
Components of all fees payable by the student;
Fee collection schedule, including any late fee payment policy; and
PEI's fee refund policy.
PEIs are not allowed to include clauses in the student contract which would allow them to make unilateral changes to the terms and conditions, or enable them to collect unconsumed course fees from students who have withdrawn from the course for the semesters or modules of the course which have not yet commenced.
Responsibility of Students
Students are encouraged to exercise caution when selecting a PEI and course to enrol in, and to make the effort to understand your rights and obligations before entering into an agreement which will be legally binding.
Students may notify the CPE at CPE_CONTACT@cpe.gov.sg or write to 1 Orchard Road (YMCA International House) #01-01 Singapore 238824, if they have any information about any unauthorised PEIs operating, or representing itself as being from Singapore.
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