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Common Misconceptions

We have listed some commonly misconceived ideas about private education to clarify doubts and help students gain a better understanding of private education in Singapore.

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For All Students


  • CPE can recommend a suitable private school and course to me.
    You are encouraged to do your own research and/or consult your parents, teachers or school counsellors as we are not able to recommend private schools and courses. You may start by reading our Guide for Choosing a Private School and 8 Things You Should Know Before You Enrol In A Private School.

  • Registered or EduTrust-certified private schools will never close down.
    Private schools are commercial businesses that may close down for various reasons. We have put in place fee protection schemes to protect students’ unconsumed fees in the event that a private school is unable to continue operating. Alternatively, the school is required to teach-out its students or make necessary arrangements to place them out to other private schools to complete their studies.

Recognition of Educational Qualifications

  • Qualifications obtained from private schools registered with CPE are recognised by the Singapore Government.
    The decision to accept your qualifications lies with your prospective higher educational institutions or employers. There is no central authority in Singapore that accords recognition to certificates and/or qualifications.

Fees and Refunds

  • I only attended a few lessons before withdrawing from my course due to personal reasons. I can request my private school to refund my course fees.
    The refund policy stated in your student contract will determine if you are entitled to any refund. Please check your student contract to understand the refund policy before speaking to your school on your request for refund.

  • I have withdrawn from my course, so I am not required to pay any outstanding fees to my private school.
    Your school may still collect from you any outstanding fees that were due before your official withdrawal date subject to the terms and conditions stated in your student contract.

    Note: If you are thinking of withdrawing from a course, please check with your school on the withdrawal procedure and complete the withdrawal process formally in writing.

  • I have paid my course fees and attended classes, but have not signed a student contract. If I choose to stop the course now, I will be entitled to a refund.
    As you have paid part or all of the course fees, you would have entered into a contract with the school. Your refund will depend on the refund policy of the school, as indicated in the school’s published policies and procedures, if any.

  • My school keeps records of payments I made to them so I do not need to obtain receipts from the school.
    You are advised to always get a receipt for any payment made to your school as proof of payment. You are also advised to retain all your receipts and official documents until you have completed your course and received your certificate.


  • CPE can stop my teacher, who is not teaching properly, from conducting any more lessons.
    All teachers have to meet the requirements for minimum qualification and experience as stated in the Private Education Regulations. Nevertheless, as teachers are hired by your school, please raise your feedback directly with your school’s management.

Academic Matters

  • CPE approves/sets the course entry requirements and course fees offered by private schools.
    We do not regulate course fees offered by private schools, and course entry requirements are set by each school’s academic board.

  • CPE has control over each private school’s overseas partner in degree courses, since private schools are required to register their external degree courses with CPE.
    While it is a requirement for private schools to register their external degree courses with us, we do not have direct regulatory powers over private school’s overseas university partners as they are not based in Singapore and not subject to local regulations.

For International Students


  • I can start attending classes in Singapore while waiting for my Student's Pass application to be approved.
    You are not allowed to attend classes in Singapore without a valid Student’s Pass. Enrolling in a private school does not guarantee you a Student's Pass. You may refer to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s website for more information on a Student’s Pass.

  • I am entitled to a full refund of my fees if the school fails to obtain a Student's Pass for me.
    The refund policy stated in your student contract will determine if you are entitled to any refund. Please check your student contract to understand the refund policy.  

  • If my application for a Student’s Pass is rejected, CPE will help me to appeal to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA).
    We are not able to appeal to the ICA on your behalf as each application is assessed according to its own merits by the ICA. Please contact the ICA for further advice. 

  • I can work part-time while studying in a private school on a Student’s Pass.
    International students on Student’s Pass are not allowed to work in Singapore while studying, unless you are studying in one of the schools exempted by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). You may refer to the MOM website for more information.

  • Should I drop out of my course, the Singapore Government or CPE will help me extend the validity of my Student’s Pass to allow me time to source for a new private school.
    Your Student’s Pass will be cancelled when you are no longer enrolled with your private school. We are not able to assist with the extension of your Student’s Pass. Please contact the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority for further advice.

  • Staff members of private schools have the right to withhold my passport.
    It is an offence for anyone to withhold another individual's passport in Singapore. You should report the matter to the police if your school refuses to return your passport.

Financial Assistance

  • The Singapore Government offers bursaries to needy international students or scholarships to deserving international students, which I can use to pay for my private school fees.
    There are currently no Government bursaries or scholarships for international students to study in private schools. You may wish to check with the private schools if they offer any scholarships or bursaries for international students.

Student Contract

  • Even though I do not understand English, I must sign the student contract because it is only available in English.
    If you do not understand English, the school is required to explain the student contract to you in your preferred language. You should also consult someone whom you trust, who understands English, to verify the contractual terms. Once you have signed the student contract, you are legally bound by the terms and conditions, including its refund policy. Hence, always review the student contract carefully, and sign it only when you have fully understood and agree with all the terms and conditions stated.

Student Agent

  • I can only enrol in a private school through an agent since I am not in Singapore.
    You may enrol in a private school through the private school or an agent.

  • The private school must fulfil all promises made to me by my agent.
    Only the terms and conditions stated in the student contract signed by you are enforceable. Do ensure what is verbally agreed with the agent is stated in the student contract.

  • It does not matter if I pay my course fees to my agent or the private school.
    Agents are not allowed to collect course fees from you, other than their own fees or commission specified in the agent contract. You are strongly advised to pay your course fees directly to your school, as agents are third parties not registered with CPE. Retain all receipts of payment and other important documents, as these may serve as evidence should there be any disputes in the future. Read more here.