Some Sunday morning visitors to the Bugis+ shopping mall were on the lookout not for the latest in fashion but for higher education courses.

The Cats Classified Learning for Success Education Exhibition brought together 21 private education organisations offering over 750 local courses and tie-ups with overseas institutions.

The options on offer ranged from certificates to postgraduate degrees and included fields such as business, psychotherapy and hospitality management.

The full-day event attracted both passers-by as well as people who made the trip specially for the exhibition. The private education organisations saw around 5,000 visitors.

Psychology undergraduate Sabrina Choo, 24, turned up with another student. "We're going for whatever fairs we can find so we can compare the courses on offer and find the best fit," she said.

Among the main concerns raised by those visiting the booths were the cost and entry requirements of the courses.

One visitor was Mr Huzaifah Hasbullah, 24, who found a sport sciences diploma he was interested in at the PSB Academy booth. He wanted to know about available subsidies.

He started work five years ago and recently settled into his job as a prison officer. "I'm interested in fitness and in helping people to recover from sports injuries.

"Now that I've settled into my job and a stable career, I thought now is the time to start studying again," he said.

Some visitors wanted to know about the universities' rankings and whether the private institutions were accredited, especially since the Government has tightened regulations for the industry in recent years.

Others, like Secondary 3 student Megan Rajaratnam, were simply there to gather information. "I'm just here to get a feel of what is available," the 15-year-old said.

She was accompanied by her family. Her father, engineering manager Johnson Rajaratnam, 48, said: "People might say we are a bit 'kiasu' but I think it's good to start planning early."