Finance at SAS 905: Student Demographics Part 2

We hope you enjoyed reading about where SAS students come from in Part 1 of our annual description of the SAS student body. We now continue exploring our students' demographics with details about why SAS families are in Singapore, who pays the bills, how long students stay at SAS, and where our families live.

What brings SAS families to Singapore?

Most SAS students are living in Singapore because of a parent's job. The three most common employment sectors reported by SAS parents are finance, with 24.7% of parents' primary jobs; manufacturing (semiconductors, electronics, chemicals, pharmaceuticals), with 13.8%; and information, communication, and technology, with 11.5%. Sectors accounting for 5% to 7% of SAS parents' jobs include professional services (accounting, consulting, law, relocation, and outsourcing); SAS itself; government (including the US embassy and navy); and oil, gas, and energy.

Sectors employing smaller numbers of SAS parents include consumer goods, higher education, trade, property and architecture, shipping and logistics, healthcare, hotels and entertainment, religious or charity non-profits, food and beverage, and mining. Over 6% of SAS parents provided no data on employment this year, while 0.3% reported themselves self-employed. As the chart below shows, the percentage of SAS parents working in finance has increased since 2011, while percentages of those working in manufacturing and in the oil, gas, and energy sector have declined. Other sectors have remained fairly constant.

Who pays the fees for SAS students?

In the last decade, the percentage of students whose school fees are paid directly by their parents' companies has decreased as multinational companies have moved away from making direct school payments part of expatriate pay packages. In 2009–10, 54% of our students were directly sponsored by parents' companies, while this year only 35% of our students are. However, we estimate that between 10% and 20% of parents' companies are fully or partially covering school fees through their pay packages or by reimbursement, bringing the total of de facto company-sponsored students to around 50%. That means that around half of our students' parents are paying school fees independently, with no direct or indirect company sponsorship.

How long do students stay at SAS?

Students' average tenure at SAS lengthened slightly in 2019–20, indicating satisfaction with the school and a relatively stable employment climate for expatriate parents. The average tenure of all current SAS students rose from 4.2 years to 4.3 years. This number assumes that current students will stay through this school year and includes our youngest students, who can only have been enrolled as long as there have been grades to serve them (a preschool student, for example, can only have been here one year). The average tenure of students who are finishing their time at SAS remains steady at 4.7 years. This number was calculated in June and includes the graduating Class of 2019 as well as other departing students.

Average years of enrollment

Looking at current students' tenure by grade level, it is not surprising that it increases each year in the lower grades, hitting the overall average around grades 5 and 6. Middle and high school students' tenures continue to increase, most obviously in grades 10 through 12. This indicates that many families make special efforts to keep their children at SAS through the socially and academically critical years before graduation. Currently, 8% of our total enrollment has attended SAS for ten or more years.

How many students who started at SAS with my child will graduate with her?

Children who enter SAS in the younger grades will see many friends move away over the years, but some will remain right through to graduation day. This year, out of our senior class of 300, we have 42 students (14%) who started here in either the Early Childhood Center (now ELC) or kindergarten: 13 enrolled in preschool, 7 in pre-kindergarten, and 22 in kindergarten. A further 32 arrived in grades 1 and 2, and 36 joined in grades 3 through 5. Altogether, over a third of our seniors started at SAS in elementary school.

Of course, the later a student enters SAS, the more classmates she will have who have been here the same amount of time or longer. And there is a positive aspect to our student body's fluidity: many SAS students find that they become skilled at making new friends and more open, flexible and resilient as they go through life.

Where do SAS students live?

The largest concentration of SAS families is found in the area bounded by the PIE, CTE, AYE, and Clementi Road. This part of the island includes neighborhoods near roads such as Bukit Timah, Dunearn, Newton, Stevens, Orchard, Tanglin, Grange, Holland, and River Valley, as well as near the American Club. The Woodlands neighborhood is also popular with SAS families, accounting for around 600 students, or 15% of enrollment. Other areas with notable concentrations of SAS families include Sembawang, Upper Bukit Timah, Yio Chu Kang, Ang Mo Kio, the East Coast Parkway and West Coast Highway areas, and Sentosa.

2019–20 distribution of SAS families in Singapore
Each dot indicates a house, condo, or apartment building housing at least one SAS student

We hope you have enjoyed learning more about this year's SAS community. As always, please send comments, questions, and suggestions for future articles to Chief Operating Officer Matthew Rogers at We look forward to hearing from you.