Coronavirus: NTU, NUS terminate passes of 2 foreign students for breaching 14-day leave, stay-home rules

The first case is an international postgraduate student from NTU's National Institute of Education and the second case is an NUS international exchange student.
The first case is an international postgraduate student from NTU's National Institute of Education and the second case is an NUS international exchange student. ST PHOTOS: KELLY HUI, GAVIN FOO

SINGAPORE - Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) will be terminating the student passes of two international students for breaching 14-day leave or stay-home rules.

The duo are the first students here to have been expelled for breaching the rules since they kicked in.

Announcing this on Tuesday (March 10), the Ministry of Education (MOE) said that in view of the recent surge in the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases worldwide, "it is imperative that all students issued with a stay-home notice comply strictly with its requirements to limit the risk from potential imported cases and to safeguard our community".

Covid-19 is the disease caused by the coronavirus.

The first case is an international postgraduate student from NTU's National Institute of Education (NIE), who breached his stay-home notice and repeatedly provided false information to the institution and the NIE board of discipline regarding his travel movements.

The second case is an NUS international exchange student. The student was placed on leave of absence - before stay-home notices kicked in - but was found to have breached the requirements and made a false travel declaration to NUS.

Stay-home notices are served to Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from mainland China, Iran, northern Italy and South Korea. Those issued such notices must remain in their place of residence at all times for a 14-day period after their return to Singapore.

These notices took effect from Feb 18, 11.59pm and initially only applied to all returnees with recent travel history to mainland China but was expanded to include travellers from other places.

Before stay-home notices came into effect, a leave of absence with a similar 14-day leave requirement was in place from Jan 31. But it was not as strict as the notices as those on leave were permitted to go out of their homes briefly to, for example, have their meals or buy household supplies.

MOE’s announcement comes after The Straits Times reported on Monday that NUS terminated the same international exchange student’s programme here for breaching a mandatory 14-day leave of absence and making a false travel declaration.

NUS dean of students Leong Ching said in an update on Saturday of the student: “The board of discipline has terminated her student exchange programme with NUS and she will return to her home university.

“She has been officially reprimanded and a report sent to her home university.”

NUS sent out an internal circular on Monday that was seen by ST, reminding staff and students to declare their overseas travel plans from March 9 to July 31. Those who do not intend to travel also had to indicate as such.

MOE urged all students served with a stay-home notice or leave of absence to comply with the respective requirements, and said that students who are found to have breached the rules will be subject to disciplinary actions from their schools and institutions.

In addition to school sanctions, students who do not comply with the stay-home notice may also be prosecuted under the Infectious Diseases Act.

Permanent residents, dependant's pass or student pass holders may also have their re-entry permits or passes revoked or shortened.

MOE declined to comment on how many students had broken stay-home notice or leave of absence rules here.

On Feb 24, the Ministry of Manpower said it had taken action against 14 work pass holders and 15 employers for breaching leave of absence requirements.

Separately, a 45-year-old Chinese national lost his permanent resident status and has been barred from re-entering Singapore after breaching his stay-home notice requirements while he was here from Feb 20 to 23.

The man was briefed on the requirements of the notice, but did not respond to phone calls and was not at his declared place of residence when Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers checked.

On Feb 23, he was spotted attempting to leave Singapore and was warned that he had breached the requirements of his notice and could face penalties. But he still insisted on leaving.

ICA rejected his application for renewal of his re-entry permit, which allows a person to retain his or her PR status while outside of Singapore.