Choosing a private education institution

Updated: 17 Feb 2017
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There are about 300 private education institutions (PEI) in Singapore offering around 5,000 courses, from general certificates to degrees. If you are looking to enrol in a PEI, you should assess the institution's certification and quality on top of the courses that it offers

The importance of doing research before committing to private education

For many, taking a higher education course is a major investment, in terms of both money as well as time.

If you enrol in a PEI, there are certain risks which you should be aware of:

  • The qualifications may not be recognised by some employers
  • The qualifications may not be recognised by other education institutions should you wish to pursue further education
  • The quality of instructions vary amongst PEIs
  • The school is a commercial entity and may close if it is not profitable
  • The school may relocate while you are still enrolled when their lease expire
  • The foreign partner university conferring the qualification may cease partnership with the PEI

It is therefore important that you select your PEI carefully. A good place to start is with the Committee for Private Education (CPE) PEIs offering these programmes must register with CPE in order to operate.


  • Singapore does not have a central authority that accords recognition to certificates & qualifications. Recognition & acceptance of certificates for employment or further study are entirely at the discretion of the prospective employer or education institution.

What to do when selecting a PEI

Be thorough in your research and contact the PEI. There are a few specific things you should look out for. You can start by:

Conducting your own research

  • Ensure that the PEI is registered with CPE.
  • Ensure that the courses offered are permitted by CPE.
  • Find out if the PEI is EduTrust-certified. The EduTrust Certification Scheme is a voluntary scheme administered by CPE for PEIs in Singapore. Institutions that have this certification have undergone more rigorous quality assurance on their systems and processes.
  • If you intend to pursue a degree course with the PEI, do a background check of the partner university.
  • Review the graduation rate & employment prospects of graduates from the course of study that you intend to pursue.
  • Talk to friends who have attended the PEI.

Contacting the PEI for more information

  • Ask if the PEI has a clearly defined grievance handling process.
  • Request to see the Student Contract & review it carefully as it is legally binding.
  • Check that all the teachers are approved by the partner university. You may ask the private school to show you the approval or permission letters from the partner university, stating that the lecturers have been approved to teach the course.

It may be useful to review this comprehensive guide on choosing a private school.


  • You should sign a Student Contract with the PEI for any course longer than 2 months.
  • Thorough research can help mitigate some of the risks of enrolling with a private school. However, it is still possible to encounter issues with your private school.

Heed these warning signals

In the course of your research, you may come across tell-tale signs that the education institute might be questionable. If you encounter these instances, proceed with caution:

  • The diploma or degree can be purchased or ordered.
  • It claims accreditation without evidence.
  • Duration of diploma or degree courses is much shorter than those offered in other institutions.
  • The diploma or degree can be obtained solely on experience or resume review.
  • The PEI can only be identified by a telephone number, email address or mail box address - without a physical location address.
  • The PEI claims that accreditation is not necessary when it is from a country where recognised & reputable institutions are accredited.

What to do if there are issues after enrolling

In the unfortunate event that you encounter a problem with the PEI you are enrolled in, approach the institution first. They should have an internal grievance channel to deal with any complaints you may have.

If your concerns are still not being addressed, call the CPE Student Services Centre at (65) 6512 1140 during operating hours:

CPE Student Services Centre
1 Marina Boulevard, #18-01
One Marina Boulevard
Singapore 018989
Mon-Fri: 9.00 am-5.00 pm
T: (65) 65121140