By Paige Lim
FROM AUGUST, incoming University freshmen will be guaranteed a residential place on campus in their first two years, up from the current first-year stay.
This latest development was announced by NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson in his annual State of the University Address on 16 Mar, which was attended by more than 1,700 students and faculty members.
“A residential experience is part of the holistic education we offer here at NTU,” said Prof Andersson.
“Since 2012, we have guaranteed every freshman the opportunity to live on campus in their first year so that everyone has a chance to experience it.”
To meet the high demand for campus residency, “a lot of construction” has been taking place in the University over the last few years, he added.
Last September, three new halls opened at the North Hill precinct, offering 2,100 more places to students. Another three new halls will open at Nanyang Crescent in August, which will cater to another 1,820 students.
By then, the University will be able to house 14,200 undergraduates in 24 residential halls, fulfilling more than 90 per cent of the current demand.
Students interviewed by the Nanyang Chronicle had mixed reactions to the new scheme.
While most acknowledged the benefits prospective freshmen stood to gain, others questioned the potential impact on hall places and hall culture for existing residents.
Currently, freshmen are only guaranteed a residential place on campus in their first year. A residential place on campus is highly sought after, with places awarded to seniors based on a competitive entry point system.
“The plan is beneficial, especially for those who stay in the East. It’ll be easier for them to get a hall place now as they will not have to compete for points as much,” said second-year School of Art, Design and Media student Sim Xin Feng.
Despite participating in hall activities in her first year, Sim, 23, did not accumulate enough points to secure another year of hall stay. The former Hall 12 resident, who lives in Ang Mo Kio, now spends over an hour and a half travelling to school every day.
Fewer places for seniors
Others, such as first-year School of Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) student Nadhira Putri, 19, expressed concern that extending the residential stay for freshmen would compromise hall places for seniors in the future.
Putri, who stays in Hall 16, said: “I’m frustrated that this (scheme) wasn’t there before; I just missed it by a year. I hope that opening up the rooms to freshmen will not affect seniors’ chances in getting rooms, like those who have actually worked for hall points.”
Her sentiments were echoed by final-year School of Civil and Environmental Engineering student Lim Kuan Yuan, 25.
“I’m happy for the freshmen. But I feel worse for the second-year students who may not be able to stay, because of the privileges the freshmen are getting,” said the former Hall 15 resident.
To make things fair, first-year HSS student Esther Poon believes the new scheme should be extended to current students, who still have to work to keep their hall spot.
“It’ll be nice if they helped us, especially the current first-years, since we have three more years of schooling ahead,” she added. “Why not make things easier for us?”
Effect on hall culture
New residents might also have less motivation to participate in hall activities, since they are automatically guaranteed a two-year-long spot, said Hall 16 president Paul Lee, 23.
“While the new arrangement would allow freshmen to concentrate on their academics more, it might be much harder to bond people and get them to be involved in their hall community.
“This will also affect the overall spirit of interhall competitions,” said the second-year School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student.
He added: “Residential halls will need to work harder in creating an environment that will encourage residents to contribute and desire to return to their initial hall.”
(Additional reporting by Lim Woei Lin, Shabana Begum and Wong Jing Hui)