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Frequently Asked Questions on Service Obligation Scheme for
International Post-Graduate Students Admitted To
Institutes of Higher
Learning

Freshmen / Newly Admitted Students
 
Application for Servic e Oblig atio n Scheme
 
Q1 Am I eligible to apply for the Se rvic e  Oblig a tio n Scheme?

Q2 Whic h IHLs  is  the Se rvic e  Oblig a tio n Scheme extended to?

Q3 How do I apply for the Servic e  Oblig a tion Scheme?

Q4 When is the online application period?

Q5 I have applied for Se rvic e  Oblig a tio n online but I need to make changes, can I do so?

Q6 If I missed the online application period, do I have to pay full fees for my studies?

Q7 Besides the online application, do I have to do anything else?

Annex A : Additional Information

TGonline Account Activation & Application Submission Guide

Notary Public Guide

Sample Se rvic e  Oblig a tio n Agreement

 
Suretie s  
 
Q8 Do I have to provide sureties for the Service Obligatio n Scheme?

Q9 Who can be my sureties and what are their obligations?

Q10 I meet the criteria to be a surety, can I sign for myself?

Q11 What if my s ureties are unable to sign the Service Obligation agreement in
Singapore?

Q12 What if I want to change any of my sureties, after my sureties and I have completed
signing the Se rvic e  Oblig a tio n agreement?
 
Last Updated on 24 May 2012
Service Obligations  
 
Q13 If I opt for the Servic e  Oblig a tio n Sc heme , wha t will b e  my o blig a tio ns ?

Q14 Can I apply for Se rvic e  Oblig a tio n only in my second year of studies? If so, how
many years of bond do I need to serve?

Q15 Currently, I am a second year student and have been receiving subsidies. I wish to
reject the Service Obligation Scheme and continue my studies as a full-fee paying
student.  What will happen to my bond?

 
Course Transfer
 
Q16 I am an unde rgradua te  s tude nt from NUS/NTU/S MU, will I b e  e lig ib le  for Service
Obligation subsidies if I change to another postgraduate degree course either within or
across the institutions?

 
Graduating Students / Graduates
 
Employment
 
Q17 Do I have to surrender my student pass after graduation? How can I remain in
Singapore to seek employment?

Q18 What types of employment will count towards serving of the Service Obligation?

Q19 Is giving private tuition considered as serving the bond?

Q20 To fulfill my Se rvic e  Oblig a tio n, do I have to remain in the same company for the
entire bond period of 36 months?

Q21 While serving out my Service Obligation, do I have to pay part of my salary earned to
MOE?

Q22 Whom do I inform once I am employed or if there is any change to my employment
s tatus ?

Q23 Wh a t  if I unable to secure an employment?

Q24 Should I serve the Se rvic e  Oblig a tio n immediately after my graduation or I can serve
later?

Q25 Is employment during the course period counted towards serving the bond?



 
Last Updated on 24 May 2012
Deferment of Servic e Oblig atio n Bond
 
Q26 What are the deferment c riteria  if I wis h to d e fe r my S e rvic e  Oblig a tio n for further
studies?

Q27 How do I apply for deferment for further studies?  What will happen to my Service
Obligation?

Q28 What are the deferment c riteria  if I wis h to d e fe r my S e rvic e  Oblig a tio n for overs eas
employment?

Q29 How is the amount of Banker’s Guarantee or Liquidated Damages computed?

Q30 What is the procedure required if I wish to extend my deferment period?

 
Release/ Discharge from Servic e Oblig atio n Bond
 
Q31 How can I buy-off m y Se rvic e  Oblig a tio n and how is the Liquidated Damages
calculated?

Q32 I have completed the 3-year Se rvic e  Oblig a tio n and wish to be discharged, what
should I do?

Q33 Do I still have to serve my bond after I have obtained Singapore Permanent
Residence?

Q34 Who do I contact if I have further queries?

Q35 How can I update changes to my or my sureties’ personal particulars?

Last Updated on 24 May 2012
Newly Admitted and Current Students
 
Application for Service Obligation (SO) Scheme
Q1 Am I eligible to apply for the Service Obligation (SO) Scheme?
Students will be eligible to receive government subsidy for their postgraduate education as long
as they have not already attained a postgraduate degree that is of the same or higher level than
the one they are intending to pursue
through MOE subsidies or sponsorship by the Singapore
Government.  
 
Eligible Singapore Citizen (SC) and Singapore Permanent Resident (PR) postgraduate students
do not need to apply for the Service Obligation (SO) Scheme to receive the Government
subsidy.  Those who wish to find out more about your subsidy eligibility for postgraduate
education can approach the university you are intending to study in for more information.
 
International students (IS) pursuing
selected postgraduate programmes at the
approved Institutions of Higher Learning (IHLs)
can take up the SO Scheme and pay the
subsidised fees.  In return for the subsidised education, IS will be required to sign a SO
Agreement and be contractually obliged to work in a Singapore-based company for three years
upon graduation.   
 
For students who have received MOE subsidies or sponsorship by the Singapore Government
at the
IHLs for the previous course(s) at the postgraduate level for which they did not complete,
this will be taken into account when determining the eligibility for subsidy for the new
postgraduate course.

 
Q2 Which IHLs is the SO Scheme extended to?
The SO Scheme is extended to selected postgraduate programmes offered at the local
autonomous universities (i.e. currently includes NUS, NTU and SMU).
  You can check directly
with the universities on the postgraduate programmes that are offered the SO Scheme.

Q3 How do I apply for the SO Scheme?
International students who are eligible for the SO Scheme can apply through the
MOE TGonline
System during the stipulated period for online application for each university.  You can refer to
the online application guide for step-by-step instructions on submitting an application.

Q4 When is the online application period?
Please refer to the letter or notification from the university.  Alternatively, you can view the
details at
MOE TGonline System under Grant Information > Grant Calendar.

Q5 I have applied for the SO Scheme online but I need to make changes, can I do so?
You can make amendments to the application details during the online application period. You
will not be able to make any further changes to your sureties’ details once the application period
ends. However, you can still make amendments to your personal details such as contact
number and address.


Q6 If I missed the online application period, do I have to pay unsubsidised fees for my
studies?
Yes, students who do not apply for the SO Scheme will have to pay unsubsidised fees for
their studies.  However, students can still apply for SO Scheme in the following semester.  Upon
approval, the subsidy will start from the semester for which approval is given.

Last Updated on 24 May 2012

Q7 Besides the online application, do I have to do anything else?
Yes, students and their two sureties will need to sign the SO Agreement at their respective
universities in the presence of MOE officers during stipulated dates.  Please refer to the
letter/notification from the university or refer to the
MOE TGonline System under Grant
Information > Grant Calendar for the stipulated dates.  Students who failed to sign the
agreement during the signing exercise will have to pay unsubsidised fees for their studies at the
institution.


 

Sureties
Q8 Do I have to provide sureties for the SO Scheme?
Yes, you are required to provide two sureties.


Q9 Who can be my sureties and what are their obligations?
A surety under the SO Scheme needs to satisfy both conditions: -
i. He/ she must be above 21 and below 65 years of age;
ii. He / she must not be an un-discharged bankrupt.
Last Updated on 24 May 2012
and

Students are strongly encouraged to get family members to be their sureties.

SO recipients and their sureties are jointly & severally liable to pay the
Liquidated Damages if
the recipients did not complete serving their three-year Service Obligation and did not receive
approval from MOE for early release.

Q10 I meet the criteria to be a surety, can I sign for myself?
No. You will need two sureties other than yourself, to execute the SO Agreement.


Q11 What if my sureties are unable to sign the SO Agreement in Singapore?
During the online application, you need to choose option “Yes” for the Notary Public. After the
online application period has ended, you can download the Agreement from the
MOE TGonline
System (Look under “Portfolio” tab).

You may either email a softcopy of the agreement (sureties will need to print the Agreement) or
courier the hardcopy agreement (you will need to print the Agreement) to your sureties
overseas.  Your sureties are required to sign on the agreement in the presence of the Notary
Public, Commissioner of Oath or a practising lawyer.  The witnessing party is also required to
sign on the Agreement.  The Agreements are to be printed single-sided on A4 size plain
white paper.  Please refer to the Notary Public Guide for more information.


Q12 What if I want to change any one of my sureties, after the sureties and I have completed
signing the SO Agreement?
You will need to submit a Change of Surety request through the
MOE TGonline System.  Please
note that you are limited to only one request (regardless of whether the change is for one or
both sureties).  Thereafter, no additional request will be accepted unless the change request
falls within the terms and conditions as stipulated in the SO Agreement.

You will be contacted for execution of the Supplemental Agreement at MOE to effect the change
in surety once your request has been approved. For change of:

1 surety   the remaining surety, new surety, replaced surety and the student are
required to execute the Supplemental Agreement.
• 2 sureties   both new sureties, replaced sureties and the student will have to sign the
Supplemental Agreement.


Service Obligations
Q13 If I opt for the SO Scheme, what will be my obligations?
International postgraduate students are required to work in Singapore-based companies for a
period of three years upon your graduation.

Q14 Can I apply for the SO Scheme only in my second year of studies? If so, how many years
of bond obligation do I need to serve?
Yes, you can apply for SO Scheme in the second of your studies.  However, the bond obligation
period will remain at three years.


Q15 Currently, I am a second year student and have been receiving subsidies. I wish to reject
the SO Scheme and continue my studies as an unsubsidised student.  What will happen to my
obligation?
You will have to pay back the subsidies that you have received plus interest charged at
the bank’s prevailing prime rate.  We will issue a letter to release you and your sureties from
the SO once we have received the full payment.

 

Course Transfer
Q16 I am a postgraduate student from NUS/NTU/SMU, will I be eligible for Government
subsidies if I change to another postgraduate degree course either within or across the
institutions?
You will be eligible for subsidies up to maximum course duration for the new course at the
institution
less the number of semesters of subsidies you had received for the previous
course.  Please check with the respective university on your eligibility.

 
Graduating Students / Graduates
 

Employment
Q17 Do I have to surrender my student pass after graduation? How can I remain in Singapore
to seek employment?
Upon expiry of your student pass, you can apply for a
Long Term Visit Pass at Immigration &
Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to remain in Singapore to seek employment.  Once you have
secured an employment, your company will apply an Employment Pass for you and your old
visit pass will be cancelled.

Q18 What types of employment will count towards serving of the Service Obligation?
The following types of employment will be counted:

a) Local employment with a Singapore-registered company as follows:
i. full-time employment  (including full-time contract and temporary positions);
Last Updated on 24 May 2012

ii. short term part-time employment (2 days of part-time employment with a minimum of
4 hours of work per day, will be counted as serving 1 full day of the Service Obligation
bond);

iii. self-employment
and which the company is registered with Accounting & Corporate
Regulatory Authority (ACRA); or
 
iv. training or attachments where you receive some form of payments
and it is not part of
the subsidised course.

b) Overseas employment as follows:
i. full-time employment on secondment from (?) Singapore-based company and you
remain on Singapore’s company payroll;

ii. full-time employment by an overseas subsidiary or a joint venture of a Singapore-
based company, where the overseas subsidiary company or joint venture is owned
more than 50% by the Singapore-based company;

iii. full-time employment by a representative office overseas that is set up wholly by the
Singapore-based company, and you remain on Singapore’s company payroll.  If your
salary is paid by the overseas representative office, the overseas period can be
counted towards serving the Service Obligation if the representative office’s operating
cash flow is funded from the Singapore-based company.


Q19 Is giving private tuition considered as serving the Service Obligation?
Giving private tuition is not considered as serving the Service Obligation. However, being
employed full-time at a tuition centre which is registered with
ACRA would be counted towards
serving the obligation.

Q20 To fulfill my Service Obligation, do I have to remain in the same company for the entire
bond period of 36 months?
No, your Service Obligation only requires you to be employed in any Singapore-based company
for a cumulative period of 36 months.  You do not need to remain in the same company for the
entire 36 months.


Q21 While serving out my Service Obligation, do I have to pay part of my salary earned to
MOE?
No. You are only required to work for 36 months in Singapore-based companies. Your salary
will not be deducted by MOE.


Q22 Who  do I inform once I am employed or if there is any change to my employment status?
Please submit an employment update request through the
MOE TGonline System. You will
need to upload scanned copies of letters from your previous and current employer(s) indicating
the dates of commencement and cessation of employment (if any).

You will need to inform MOE via the MOE TGonline System of your employment status (whether
employed or unemployed) within three months from course completion, from the resignation or
cessation of your last employment, or from employment in another company.
 
Last Updated on 24 May 2012
Q23 What if I am unable to secure an employment?
You are required to diligently seek employment immediately upon graduation from your course.
If you are unable to obtain an employment after more than a year, you may inform MOE and
submit documentary proof of all your job applications and rejection letters as evidence of your
job search.  MOE will review your case and contact you to discuss further about your Service
Obligation.


Q24 Should I serve the Service Obligation immediately after graduation or can I serve it later?
Recipients of Service Obligation Scheme should serve the obligation immediately upon your
graduation from the course. Recipients are given up to three months after graduation to update
on their first employment.


Q25 Is employment during the course period counted towards serving the Service Obligation?
No. Only employment after you have graduated from your studies will be considered towards
serving the Service Obligation.



Deferment of Service Obligation
 
Last Updated on 24 May 2012
 
Q26 What are the deferment criteria if I wish to defer my Service Obligation for further
studies?
You can apply to defer your Service Obligation if you have gained admission to a course in an
academic institution.  You will need to provide a
Banker’s Guarantee if you are furthering studies
either a) as a self-financing student at the listed IHLs;
or b) in local private/overseas institutions.
A Banker’s Guarantee is an irrevocable undertaking by a bank to pay a sum of money in the
 
event of a demand from the beneficiary (MOE), usually arising when the applicant is unable to
perform his part of the bond obligations of the Service Obligation Scheme.



Q27 How do I apply for deferment for further studies?  What will happen to my Service
Obligation?

You are required to apply for deferment through the
MOE TGonline System at least 6 weeks
before the commencement of your deferment period.  Approval for your deferment is subject to
you providing a Banker’s Guarantee.  Upon completion of your further studies, you will be
required to serve out the remaining Service Obligation outstanding at the point of deferment.
The Banker’s Guarantee will be returned to you once you have reported back to MOE with
documents indicating completion of your studies.


There are two types of deferment for further studies:
 
1)
 
Deferment To Pursue Further Studies as MOE-Subsidised Students in local IHLs
For Service Obligation recipients pursuing full-time postgraduate programmes as
MOE-subsidised students at local publicly-funded tertiary institutions, i.e. NUS,
NTU and SMU:  

MOE will make arrangements for you to execute a Supplemental Agreement allowing you
to:

2)
a. Defer your current Service Obligation; and
b. Receive another subsidy for your studies in the institution, if you have not already
attained a qualification of the same or higher level than the course you are
pursuing.   

Upon completion of your course, you can serve out the three-year Service Obligation
under the new Service Obligation agreement,
concurrently
 with the remaining Service
Obligation from your previous subsidised course that is outstanding at the point of
deferment.
 
Deferment to Pursue Further Studies as Self-Financing Students in local IHLs or in
Local Private / Overseas institutions
 
For Service Obligation recipients pursuing full-time or part-time programmes
(Diploma, Advance Diploma/Specialist Diploma, Undergraduate, Postgraduate)
as
Self-Financing Students
 (i.e. not subsidised student) at local publicly-funded
tertiary institutions, i.e. NUS, NTU, SMU, SUTD, SIT, Polytechnics, degree courses
under the Polytechnic-FSI Collaborations, or pursuing further studies in local
private/overseas institutions:  
 
You are required to apply for deferment through the
MOE TGonline System at least 6
weeks before the commencement of your deferment period.  Approval for your
deferment is subject to you providing a Banker’s Guarantee.  

Upon completion of your further studies, you will be required to serve out the remaining
Service Obligation outstanding at the point of deferment.  The
Banker’s Guarantee will be
returned to you once you have reported back to MOE personally with documents
indicating completion of your studies and obtained an employment in a Singapore-based
company.  However, if you fail to report back to MOE within one month from the end of
your deferment period as stated in the approval letter, we will call upon the Banker’s
Guarantee that is placed with MOE.

 
Q28 What are the deferment criteria if I wish to defer my Service Obligation for overseas
employment?
If your overseas employment does not fall within the approved types of overseas employment
mentioned in
Q18b, you may apply for a deferment via the MOE TGonline System for MOE’s
consideration.  If your application for deferment is accepted, you will need to provide a
Banker’s
Guarantee before the application can be approved.  

After the deferment period ends, you will be required to serve out the remaining Service
Obligation outstanding at the point of deferment. The
Banker’s Guarantee will be returned to you
once you have reported back to MOE personally with documents indicating cessation of your overseas employment and obtained an employment in a Singapore-based company.  However, if you fail to report back to MOE within one month from the end of your deferment period as stated in the approval letter, we will call upon the Banker’s Guarantee that is placed with
MOE.


Q29 How is the amount of Banker’s Guarantee or Liquidated Damages computed?
The Banker’s Guarantee will be of the same amount as the Liquidated Damages.  Liquidated
Damages will be computed based on the subsidies that you have received during the course of
Last Updated on 24 May 2012
study plus 10% compounded interest per annum on the year of study.  The Banker’s Guarantee
or Liquidated Damages amount will be reduced proportionately if you have served part of your
Service Obligation.


Q30 What is the procedure required if I wish to extend my deferment period?
You may apply for an extension of the deferment period through the
MOE TGonline System.
Your application should reach us at least 6 weeks before the extended deferment period
commences.  Extension of deferment period is considered on a case-by-case only.


 

Release/ Discharge from Service Obligation
Q31 How can I be released from my Service Obligation and how is the Liquidated Damages
calculated?
Please submit a request through the
MOE TGonline System with employment letters showing
the period you have worked in a Singapore-based company (if any).  Please refer to Q29 for the
Liquidated Damages computation.  Payment of the Liquidated Damages has to be made in one
lump sum.  Payment of Liquidated Damages can be made through cheque, cashier’s order,
bank draft or cash.


Q32 I have completed the three-year Service Obligation and wish to be discharged, what
should I do?
You should update your employment regularly via the
MOE TGonline System.  Once your employment period has reached three years, a discharge letter will be issued to you via the email address you have registered in the TGonline system.  Please ensure that your email account remains valid and in use, to ensure that you can receive the emails with regard to your service obligation.


Q33 Do I still have to serve my Service Obligation after I have obtained Singapore Permanent
Residence?
Once we received updates that you have become a Singapore Permanent Resident, a release letter will be sent to you via the email account you have registered in the TGonline system.
Please ensure that your email account remains valid and in use, to ensure that you can receive
the emails with regard to your Service Obligation.


Q34 Who do I contact if I have further queries?
For further queries, you may contact our MOE Customer Service officers at 6872 2220 during
office hours.  Alternatively, you may email us at MOE_tgonline@moe.gov.sg.


Q35 How can I update changes to my personal particulars or my sureties’ personal
particulars?
You can make changes through the
MOE TGonline System.
 
Last Updated on 24 May 2012

Annex A
Tuition Grant Unit
Tuition Grant Unit’s Address
15
th
Ministry of Education
 Floor, Office Tower
1 North Buona Vista Drive
Singapore 138675

Extracted clause from Service Obligation Agreement – Change of Surety/Sureties “It is further expressly agreed by and between the Student and the Sureties and the Government that if at any time during the currency of this Agreement either of the Sureties shall die or cease to reside within or remain out of their respective Country of Residency for more than twelve (12) consecutive months or shall become insolvent (the duty of reporting any such events to the Government being hereby placed on the Student) then and in such an event the Student and the remaining Surety or either of them shall substitute a new Surety who is acceptable to the Government and who shall be ready and willing to substitute for and take over the obligations herein contained of the Surety who has died, ceased to reside within or remained out of their respective Country of Residency as aforesaid or has become insolvent.”


The Institutes of Higher Learning (IHLs) are:

Universities
National University of Singapore (NUS)
Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
Singapore Management University (SMU)

Last Updated on 24 May 2012

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