SINGAPORE - The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have suspended student exchange programmes in the light of the global surge in Covid-19 cases.
Since Monday (May 17), all of NUS' outbound student exchange programmes for the first semester of academic year 2021/2022 have been suspended in line with advisories from the authorities to avoid non-essential travel.
Applications from most inbound students for exchange programmes at NUS have also been suspended following tighter border control measures to curb the surge in Covid-19 cases here.
An exception has been made for students from a "handful of countries", such as those with which Singapore has set up unilateral border openings, said an NUS spokesman on Friday.
According to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's SafeTravel website, only applicants from six regions including Australia, China and Brunei can still enter Singapore.
Since May 4, new entry approvals for all long-term pass holders, which include student pass holders, have been reduced or halted until further notice in view of the resurgence in locally transmitted Covid-19 cases.
Students entering Singapore will have to comply with the prevailing stay-home notice regime, said the NUS spokesman.
NUS said it took the decision to suspend student exchange programmes in view of the volatile Covid-19 situation worldwide and the emergence of more infectious strains of the virus.
Students had been given notice of this possibility on Feb 5, when the school said a decision on student exchange programmes would be made in early May.
"The safety and well-being of our students is of utmost priority to NUS," said the spokesman.
"For alternatives to in-person overseas exchange programmes, there is a suite of online summer programmes offered by NUS' partner universities, e-STEERs (Study Trips for Engagement and Enrichment) and virtual joint immersion programmes that NUS students can participate in," she added.
NTU earlier suspended all student overseas programmes until the end of December.
NTU deputy provost Tan Ooi Kiang told The Straits Times that the decision was announced on March 8 to minimise any disruption in students’ planning of courses and delay in the completion of their degrees.
In place of in-person exchanges, NTU has offered students virtual exchange opportunities that will allow them to take academic courses and network with overseas partner institutions without having to travel abroad.
For example, NTU and the University of Edinburgh, University of Amsterdam and University of Sydney will offer a specially curated virtual summer programme in July that will allow students from these institutions to learn together remotely.
Student travel guidelines will be reviewed in the third quarter of this year to determine whether overseas programmes can proceed from next January, Professor Tan said.