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In U-turn, NTU allows international students to retain housing on campus ‘on an exceptional basis’

SINGAPORE — Following an outcry after it imposed a quota on student hostels due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) did a U-turn on Friday (July 2) and opened up more places, with international students who are current residents getting to keep their places after all.

In U-turn, NTU allows international students to retain housing on campus ‘on an exceptional basis’

Nanyang Technological University said that all student applicants who will be in Year 1 and 2 in the upcoming academic year will get a hall place in line with the two-year guaranteed hall stay guideline.

  • Nanyang Technological University is now opening up more places to house students on campus
  • This came soon after many students had their applications rejected on July 1
  • International students will retain their accommodation on campus "on an exceptional basis”
  • All applicants who will be in Year 1 and 2 in the upcoming academic year will get a hall place

 

SINGAPORE — Following an outcry after it imposed a quota on student hostels due to Covid-19 restrictions, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) did a U-turn on Friday (July 2) and opened up more places, with international students who are current residents getting to keep their places after all.

This is “on an exceptional basis, regardless of their hall points, in view of the challenges to secure alternative off-campus housing due to Covid-19,” NTU said in a press statement.

This comes a day after some international students said that they were upset with how they were given only two weeks to find alternative housing arrangements before the term starts.

A petition on Change.org calling for NTU to reconsider the applications of students was also started and it had gathered more than 4,000 signatures by midnight of Thursday.

Speaking to TODAY earlier, NTU students who are Singapore residents and who had their housing applications rejected acknowledged that their international peers were in a worse situation but they, too, felt frustrated because they had not been informed about the new quota for on-campus housing.

NTU said on Friday: “We have since carefully reviewed the hall capacity, bearing in mind that vaccinations are now well underway and there are other safe management measures that we intend to apply.

“Hence, we have opened up more hall places and reached out to newly successful applicants today."

The university added that all applicants who will be in Year 1 and 2 in the upcoming academic year will get a hall place in line with the two-year guaranteed hall stay guideline.

“Active hall residents who have full points for hall participation will also be allocated hall places.”

Under NTU’s campus housing policy, new students are guaranteed on-campus housing in a hall for the first two years of study. Senior students will have to take part in co-curricular activities on campus to secure points that qualify them for housing in the following year.

The university said that as in previous years, any new vacancies arising from those who change their minds about staying on campus will be offered to unsuccessful applicants through balloting at a later date.

“We are monitoring the Covid-19 situation and will continue to review the hall capacity to allow more students to stay on campus, where possible. Applicants will progressively be informed if a hall place is allocated to them,” it added.

TODAY understands that some students have received emails stating that their hall applications have been prioritised "on an exceptional basis”. A version of the email was posted on NTU Students' Union’s Instagram account.

NTU said that the Hall Admin Offices will be contacting students over the next week on their room arrangements for the new academic year, adding that they may be assigned a different hall or room to adhere to Covid-19 regulations and requirements.

STUDENTS RELIEVED

International students who had expressed disappointment at NTU’s initial decision in interviews with TODAY welcomed the university’s reversal.

One Vietnamese student, who wanted to be known only as Mr HV, said that he is now “definitely less worried”.

“While I'm relieved that NTU has been prompt in its reply in this matter, some of the international students have not received the email yet, so I'm concerned if they might be left out.”

Mr HV, a 23-year-old fourth-year computer engineering student, started a group on messaging platform Telegram called “NTU Homeless” after receiving his rejection later. He declined to provide his full name for this interview for fear that his scholarship would be revoked.

Ms Nora Le, 20, another Vietnamese student, feels “partially relieved as more or less, there is an official response from school”.

“And I know that finally, I can continue studying without worrying about the expensive living fees outside the school,” the third-year linguistics and multilingual studies major said.

“I am still right to choose NTU in my studies abroad. I understand that there is no perfect university. But what I need from a university is its timely reaction to the needs of international students who do not enjoy many privileges when choosing to pursue their degree overseas.”

Ms Pei Chenge, a fourth-year undergraduate in NTU’s public policy and global affairs programme, also said that she is “very relieved”.

“As I was looking for rental flats, prices have been rocketing and demand is high. So I was worried that I wouldn't be able to get a place to stay. But the email is rather vague so I still don't dare to take the risk and cancel all the viewings,” the 25-year-old China national said.

“I hope NTU can confirm our rooms as soon as possible,” Ms Pei said, adding that she appreciates the university’s efforts in trying to solve this issue.

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