It was reported in the Straits Times that MOE did not maintain adequate oversight of NUS and NTU on the monitoring and enforcement of scholarship bonds for a scholarship given to international students.

 In 16 of the 30 cases that it checked, AGO found that the universities did not take prompt action on scholars who failed to serve their required bonds. “As a result, there was no assurance that the scholarship grants were used optimally,” it said of the grants, which are given to international students.

Sigh. Please note that this problem is a recurring one.

The issue has been raised before in parliament back in 2014. Back then, then-Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said that MOE will be stepping up efforts to deal with it. But seems like measures aren’t effective.

I can understand why measures are difficult to enforce – there isn’t much the government can do if an foreign student simply decides to leave Singapore for good, and never return.

But if being nice didn’t solve the problem, how about taking a tougher stance to prevent international students from defaulting on their bonds?

Universities should consider releasing a list of names of bond defaulters – wherever they are, let their employers or universities (if they are pursuing masters/PhD in other countries) know.

How about revoking their degrees if they refuse to fulfill their bonds?

Follow-up. Chase them down. Let them know that there is a price to pay if they decide to take tax-payers’ money and their place in a local university for granted.

But of course, make it clear to them right from the onset that these are the possible consequences. Willing buyer, willing seller – you are expected to fulfill your bond in any case if you decide to take up the scholarship in the first place.

If you come back and fulfil your bond that’ll be the end of it. I will not look for you, I will not pursue you, but if you don’t, I will look for you, I will find you and I will make you pay.

We hope that Minister Ong Ye Kung will do something about this.

That is all.

The end.