Singapore NTU Imposes Campus Housing Quota Due to Covid-19, Some International Students Stranded on Short Notice | Singapore
SINGAPORE, July 2 – Some international students at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) are scrambling to find shelter as the university has given them two weeks to find alternative housing solutions.
In denial letters sent early yesterday (July 1) to Singaporean and foreign students who requested on-campus housing, the university said it had to reduce the number of residents who can live on campus due to the restrictions. of Covid-19.
In the letter, which was seen by TODAY, NTU said: “Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, there is a cap on the number of students staying in rooms imposed by authorities, and fewer rooms are available due to the need to reserve a number for Covid-19 isolation and other related purposes.
For applicants who remain on campus, they have also been asked to vacate their rooms by July 15, less than two weeks before the start of the new academic year.
The university has urged those who do not have a place of residence in Singapore to arrange off-campus accommodation and provided the contacts of the Westwood Hostel and EM Real Estate student hostels. He also provided links to accommodation booking sites such as Trivago and Agoda in his letter.
TODAY contacted NTU for details on the limit on residents in the wards, the rationale for those limits and how it supports affected students, especially international students.
In response, NTU said it had to review the number of hall seats offered for the next academic year as part of sound management measures.
He also said this year had seen “exceptionally strong demand” for these venues.
“However, with vaccinations now well underway and a good vaccination rate expected, along with other safe management measures we intend to implement, we are currently examining the ability to allow more students to stay. on the campus.”
He added that more updates will be provided in the coming days.
Not easy to find affordable housing
TODAY spoke to four international students and four Singaporean students whose housing applications were rejected.
International students said they were upset that they had to leave at short notice and worried if they could find alternative accommodation in the next two weeks.
Pei Chenge, a fourth-year student in the NTU’s Public Policy and Global Affairs program, said she hadn’t expected the university’s last-minute notice.
Pei, a 25-year-old Chinese national, said she diligently participated in campus activities to qualify for housing eligibility.
Under NTU’s campus accommodation policy, new students are guaranteed on-campus room accommodation for the first two years of study. Senior students will need to participate in extracurricular activities on campus to increase their chances of securing accommodation the following year.
Pei, who devotes at least 11 hours of her week to various extracurricular activities, said the short notice period, coupled with the large number of international students whose housing applications have been rejected by NTU means that the demand for rooms at praise around NTU to be “crazy high”.
“It is a worrying but realistic concern that some people do not have housing,” she added.
Others, like Vietnamese student Nora Le, said having to live off campus will be a financial burden for international students who cannot afford rooms in the open rental market.
The 20-year-old Linguistics and Multilingual Studies major said the cheapest room on the open market she found so far yesterday was S $ 375 (RM 1,1556) excluding utilities. This was much higher than his monthly rent of S $ 265 in NTU, which included utilities.
Ms Nora, a third-year student, said she was financing her accommodation through part-time work and worried that she would not be able to pay rent if she left her university home. Returning to Vietnam was also not an option as the country suspended flights due to a worsening Covid-19 situation there.
She also questioned NTU’s rationale for capping the number of students remaining on campus.
“Last year NTU also reserved a few places in the lobby for Covid-19 isolation but they did not exclude or kick us out. So why do it now when the situation (Covid-19) is improving and (some of us) are vaccinated? ”
She suggested that international students be given priority to stay on campus, as they might not be able to find a new residence in such a short time.
Petition under review
Another Vietnamese student, who only wanted to be known as HV, said the accommodation options offered by NTU in his letter were “really expensive” and unnecessary.
HV, who started a group on the Telegram messaging platform called “NTU Homeless” after receiving his refusal later, said he contacted the university to ask for financial aid. He declined to provide his full name for this interview for fear that his scholarship would be revoked.
Last night there were over 6,000 members in the Telegram group set up by the 23-year-old fourth-year computer engineering student.
A petition on Change.org calling on NTU to reconsider student applications was also launched and had collected more than 4,000 signatures by midnight.
In an email to students seen by TODAY Last night, the NTU Students’ Union said it was working with the university to work out accommodation arrangements for international students and that the university is looking to provide on-campus accommodation for as many students as possible. .
The union said in its email that international students would not be required to leave their halls by July 15. NTU did not confirm this or an extension of the deadline in its response to TODAY.
Longer journeys, less ideal study environment
NTU students who are residents of Singapore and whose housing applications were rejected admitted that their international peers were in a worse situation, but they too felt frustrated because they had not been informed of the new quota. housing on campus.
This was particularly the case for students whose home environment was not conducive to study or who had to travel long distances to get to school.
Bernice Lim Yi Mei, a third year sociology student, had worked throughout the last semester to save for room accommodation. She had also taken more academic units this semester because she was convinced she had ticked the boxes to qualify for on-campus accommodation.
The 22-year-old said she planned to stay at an on-campus hostel to save on the time she took to travel from her home in Toa Payoh. She had also wished to stay in an environment where she could study better.
Jerome Lee, a third-year double-degree student studying biomedical sciences and traditional Chinese medicine, said he was “fed up and annoyed” as it seemed that many students who had tried to secure a place in homes participating in campus activities had not had their applications approved.
The 23-year-old said it could take him up to three hours to get from his home in Pasir Ris to NTU. The commute time, coupled with her intensive schedule and high level of engagement in school activities, meant staying on campus was her preferred accommodation option.
He was also upset that the university had charged S $ 16.50 in accommodation application fees to students without informing them that there would be a quota on those who could stay on campus.
Lee said introducing shuttle services from various parts of the island would be a viable option for students who live far from campus. However, he noted that this will not be the best solution, even for students whose homes are not conducive to study. – TODAY