NTU reverses policy and allows international students to continue to reside on campus

Nanyang Technological University said it had taken note of the challenges to secure alternative off-campus housing due to Covid-19.
Nanyang Technological University said it had taken note of the challenges to secure alternative off-campus housing due to Covid-19.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

SINGAPORE - International students who are currently residents will keep their hostel places after all, after the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) reversed an announcement made on Thursday (July 1).

The university said it had taken note of the challenges to secure alternative off-campus housing due to Covid-19.

First- and second-year students in the upcoming academic year will also receive a spot, as well as active hall residents who have full points for participation in hall activities.

"We have since carefully reviewed the hall capacity, bearing in mind that vaccinations are now well under way 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," an NTU spokesman said on Friday.

International students The Straits Times contacted heaved a sigh of relief when they heard the news.

Vietnamese student Le Ha Phuong said: "On Thursday, I had a sleepless night not knowing where I would be sleeping in the next two weeks. I don't want anything to interrupt my studies and it was such a relief to me."

The 20-year-old is a third-year linguistics and multilingual studies student.

NTU had initially announced on Thursday that hall occupancy was to be reduced to facilitate Covid-19 isolation and for other related purposes.

It sent thousands of residents, many of them foreign students without a local address, scrambling to find alternative accommodation before the start of the school year next month. But the university said later the same day that it was reviewing if it could let more students stay on campus.

Electrical and electronic engineering student Shoon Zhen Yong, 22, said rental prices in nearby apartments climbed $200 after the initial announcement that hall places were being cut.

"I was delighted to find out the school had heard the students' voices and took action. We were prepared for the worst," added the student from Malaysia.

On Friday, the NTU spokesman said that as in previous years, the university was unable to accommodate all applicants for hall places when demand is higher than expected.

He added that aside from exceptionally strong demand for hall places this year, NTU had to also review the number it could offer as part of safe management measures.

But with the latest announcement, 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.

"International students who are currently hall residents will also continue to keep their hall places, on an exceptional basis, regardless of their hall points... Active hall residents who have full points for hall participation will also be allocated hall places," the spokesman said.

Residents are given hall points to determine how heavily involved they are in their hall commitments. The hall points help active members to secure a spot in a hall for the next round of applications.

The NTU spokesman said those who change their minds about staying on campus will have their place 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," added the spokesman.