?How do I start a private school in Singapore? Is ERF that complicated

Previously, we have mentioned terms like ERF and EduTrust when referring to Private Education Institutions (PEIs). But what are they and what is the difference? Are they difficult to attain? In our 2-part series, we delve into defining ERF and EduTrust, share our expertise on the misconceptions surrounding these certifications so that you are more knowledgeable as you start your private school in Singapore.

10 May 2021

What is ERF?

Enhanced Registration Framework (ERF) is the minimum certification that all Private Education Institutions (PEIs) must obtain by fulfilling all mandatory registration requirements set by the Committee for Private Education (CPE). Approved Training Organisations-PEIs (ATO-PEIs) must also register under ERF to SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) in a joint application to Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) organisation approval.

What does the ERF registration process look like?

The ERF registration process a PEI would follow would depend on whether it is a new applicant or an existing PEI with ERF registration (see below for infographics we have produced to give you a better understanding!).

PEIs should note that ERF registration is not a one-time certification. If successful, CPE will grant a PEI ERF certification with a renewal period of registration of either a 2-, 4- or 6-years duration. PEIs would then have to renew their ERF registration before the expiry of their existing ERF registration term. For PEIs that obtained 2 consecutive 4-yr or 6-yr ERF, they can renew by declaration (see the graphic process below).

Who needs to apply for ERF?

PEIs offering the following programmes must register with CPE under ERF:

  1. Degree, diploma or full-time certification programmes at the post-secondary level;
  2. Full-time primary or secondary education wholly or substantially, in accordance with an international curriculum (e.g IB - International Baccalaureate);
  3. Full-time preparatory courses for the purpose of preparing students
    1. for entrance/placement tests for joining Singapore’s mainstream schools, or
    2. for external examinations; that
      1. leads to a qualification awarded by any person other than the person which provides such full-time education; or
      2. entitles the students to be admitted to an education institution;
  4. Full-time special education for students with physical or intellectual disabilities, where the private-funded education institution conducting the programme has not been extended a subvention by the Government.

Common mistakes and misconceptions PEIs make with ERF registration

In EduValue’s experience as an ERF consultant, we have noticed some common mistakes and misconceptions that PEIs make with ERF registration that we would like to point out to the industry so that corrective and preventative actions may be taken.

A common mistake that we see is that some PEIs that should be registered under CPE are not. These PEIs include those that run degree and/or master programmes locally in collaboration with partners (overseas universities, companies, etc), and small tuition centres that run international programmes or curriculum like IB that expand into larger tuition centres.

Another common mistake is that PEI employees, owners and independent individual consultants are not up-to-date on ERF or renewal regulation changes as they only need to register once every 4 to 6 years. As such, they lack the understanding of how to meet the new regulations and assessment criteria.

A misconception about the ERF registration process is that it is tough to register as it is a long-drawn preparation process. However, in our experience, all the preparation for registration requirements can be completed and submitted within 2 weeks.

To avoid making these common mistakes and having these misconceptions, we recommend that PEIs find a professional firm that specialises in Quality Assurance, has a high volume of active clients, thoroughly understands operations and application processes and are updated in regulation requirements and criteria. A quick litmus test of the proficiency of a PEI’s employees and/or consultant would be by asking them, ‘how many PEIs are you currently assisting or have assisted in the last 3 months?’ This would inform the PEIs of their portfolio and how current their knowledge is.

For full details on ERF, visit CPE’s website

Read about EduTrust Certification Scheme and whether it is difficult to attain.

Read our other article on the Market Analysis of Singapore's PEI Sector (2015-2020)

Original article on LinkedIn

Written and graphic design by Gillian Koh, Industry Research Team at EduValue Global

For more information about EduTrust, visit EduValue Singapore (EV), our brand that is a leader in ERF, EduTrust Consulting and Quality Assurance Frameworks for Private Education Institutions (PEIs) that are regulated by the Committee for Private Education (CPE) in Singapore. EV also does set-up and consulting work for Kindergarten, Enrichment & Tuition sectors, and Workforce Skills Qualifications (WSQ) Training Providers/ Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) sectors, forming an in-depth footprint into Singapore’s education landscape.