Make university life a social experience too

Instead of a dedicated "singles village", perhaps we can capitalise on hostel living in our universities and make it more conducive for undergraduates to meet and socialise ("Build 'singles village' to help young people get hitched" by Mr Chua Boon Hou; March 16).

We should make university life as much a social experience as an academic one.

My husband and I met in a university hostel nearly 30 years ago. In our day, we had catered meals in the dining hall, where tables were arranged in long rows at which we had plenty of chances to socialise.

Meals had to be taken at fixed timings, thus increasing the chances of mixing. The TV lounge, conveniently located next to the dining hall, also provided an avenue for socialising after dinner.

However, at my daughter's hostel nowadays, meals are bought at stalls at most times of the day.

Table arrangements are not conducive to sharing with strangers, and many students choose to eat in their rooms.

There is also no central lounge, but isolated ones scattered on different floors, which I am told are mostly used by undergraduates to rehearse for presentations, and not for socialising.

Besides enhancing hostel life, universities can also nudge our ever-pragmatic undergraduates in the right direction by offering electives on relationships and dating - with opportunities to mix and mingle - from which the undergraduates can earn credits.

These electives may have the added benefit of yielding invaluable friendships and career networks, besides romantic relationships.

Universities can also make it compulsory for their undergraduates to stay in a hostel for at least a year. Faculties with skewed ratios of female and male undergraduates can also arrange activities for them to mix.

With about 40 per cent of each cohort eventually attending university, university and hostel life provides rich opportunities for finding life partners, provided our young people keep an open mind - and heart.

Maria Loh Mun Foong (Ms)