School Finance 603: Student Demographics, Part I

Student Demographics, Part 1

For most SAS parents, the diversity of our student population is one of the best things about an SAS education. This year's SAS community includes students from 62 countries, all learning with and from each other. This week we are pleased to present part one of our annual description of the SAS student body. We hope you enjoy learning more about our community.

How "American" is Singapore American School?

SAS remains the preferred school for Americans in Singapore, with a majority of our students being US citizens. However, at 56 percent, our American population has declined from a high of 70% in 2012. We note that this number has fluctuated throughout the school's history and that current economic trends are likely affecting the relative numbers of Americans and other foreigners in Singapore. Other factors influencing this change may include increased options for American families as more international schools open and alternative curricula become more acceptable to US colleges.

Both our history and our school policies reinforce our commitment to maintaining a diverse population with a strong American element. The board policy regarding students states as a goal "a student body comprising American and non-American students so as to provide strong American character as well as international diversity." Interestingly, our current percentage of American students is similar to that of the school's first year: in 1956, according to a newspaper article included in Singapore's Eagles, 58 of the school's 100 children were American.

2016-17 SAS Enrollment by Nationality (as of August 15, 2016)

Looking more closely at our numbers, we see that our American students themselves are quite diverse, with around one-fifth of them also holding a second passport; the percentage of such dual-nationality students has remained steady in recent years. Including these passports in our list of countries raises the number of separate passports our students hold to 62! And even citizenship statistics do not entirely capture our students' diversity because many of our American students have mainly lived outside the US, and some have at least one parent with a different citizenship.

Shifts in Non-American Student Numbers

We analyze changes in the student body carefully to better understand and serve our community. While the top 10 nationalities at SAS have remained the same since 2013, their order has shifted as our Chinese and Indian students' numbers have risen sharply and other groups have altered less dramatically:

  • For the second year, Indian students are our second largest national group. In the last five years their numbers have more than doubled, and they now make up 9% (or 362) of our students.
  • Our Singaporean students have increased by nearly 50% since 2011; they now comprise 7% of enrollment. With 293 students, our host country remains in third place, as it has for the last five years.
  • Our Korean and Canadian students' numbers remain fairly constant, putting these countries in fourth and sixth places respectively this year.
  • Our numbers of Chinese students have risen rapidly in five years, from only 17 in 2011 to 148 now. China currently stands fifth in our passport list.
  • Our Japanese and Australian students' numbers continue a five-year increase, with each rising over 80% since 2011, to around 2%.
  • Our Filipino, British, and Indonesian students' numbers continue a five-year decrease, with each now accounting for one percent to 2% of total enrollment.
  • Although not shown on our charts, if we add up our numbers from European Union countries, we have a total of 155 students. This number has increased by 14% since 2011. If we counted the EU as one country, it would place fifth in our passport table.

The "other" eight percent of our students come from 43 countries, with our total number of home countries (including second passports) rising to 62 this year. Although we no longer have students from Bangladesh and Bolivia, we now have students representing Argentina, Belarus, Brunei, Fiji, Maldives, Slovakia, and Venezuela.

How long do students from different countries stay at SAS?

This year the overall average current student length of stay remains 3.9 years. Breaking this down by major groups, our American students have an average stay of four years, which is affected by relatively short stays for US diplomatic and naval families, and longer stays for SAS teachers' children. Children from the Philippines, New Zealand, and Indonesia stay the longest, at 6.7, 6.1, and 5.8 years respectively. Students from Canada, Singapore, the UK and Korea stay between four and five years. Japanese, Australian and Indian students' tenures are below the average, while our Chinese students have the lowest average stay of our major groups, with 2.4 years. These shorter tenures reflect the increasing numbers from these countries, as discussed above.

We hope you have enjoyed learning more about your children's classmates, whose diversity adds so much to the SAS experience. Next week, student demographics part two will provide further details about SAS students and families. As always, we welcome comments, questions, and suggestions for future articles, at We look forward to hearing from you.