Distance points to be removed from hall admission criteria

5 Nov 2018

By Matthew Loh

Nigel Tan, 22, begins his two-and-a-half hour commute back to his home in Tampines.

From next year, the time taken for students to travel from their homes to NTU will no longer be considered for admission to NTU’s Halls of Residence, according to an email sent by the University to students on 8 Oct.

This means that students living farther away from NTU will not be able to secure a room in hall more easily than their peers.

Instead, students will only be awarded hall admission points based on their participation in extracurricular activities and their willingness to share a room with an international student.

Admission points will also no longer be awarded to senior students who have never stayed in a hall before, are on overseas exchange programmes or internships, or are on academic probation, which is when a student’s CGPA falls below 2.00 for two consecutive semesters.

While it is still easier to secure a room on-campus in any hall — with the addition of six new halls on campus and NTU’s ability to house more than 90 per cent of students — the tightening of criteria will make getting into one’s preferred hall more competitive.

“The (Hall Admission Scheme) Committee believes that removing these criteria will better reflect the CCA and campus life contributions of students, and enable those who earn more points from such CCAs to justifiably be allocated their preferred hall and room type,” the email read.

NTUSU President Edward Lim, 24, advised students to start participating in clubs and programmes to earn hall admission points.

“There are many types of activities for students to choose from, and I would encourage students to try those that pique their interest,” he said.

The number of hall admission points that a student earns is determined by how heavily involved they are in their commitments, with varsity athletes and those in leadership roles earning more points.

Only points from a student’s single highest-earning activity will be considered, and these points are not cumulative.

For instance, if a student already earns seven points by holding a leadership position in a club, the points that they earn from activities which give five or three points will not be considered.

If they later participate in an activity which earns them nine points, such as holding a JCRC leadership position, their previous seven points will no longer be considered.

Higher commitments

Some students such as Quek Ngee Wei, a first-year student from the Nanyang Business School, are feeling the pressure to take on more commitments.

The 21-year-old, who is pursuing a double degree in accountancy and business, is currently the captain of Hall 14’s tennis team and a member of the NTU Judo club. But he is worried that it will not be enough to secure him a place in his hall next year.

“Now, I might have to run for a leadership position in my Judo club next semester to reach the next admission points tier. I don’t think I will have the time to do that,” said Quek, who is currently awarded eight distance points because he lives in Pasir Ris.

But Nigel Tan, 22, a second-year student from the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, feels that revising the scheme is justified even though he lives in Tampines and will lose seven distance points.

“You can’t fault students who want to focus on their studies instead of hall (activities), but if they don’t participate actively in their hall, they should be willing to face the consequences of getting a lower priority to stay on in that hall,” said Tan, a Hall 8 resident.

But Jeremy Low, the president of Hall 15’s Junior Common Room Committee (JCRC), said lighter commitments such as sub-committees, ad-hoc committees and sports may be enough to guarantee students a place in their preferred hall.

According to Low, the total median General Cut-off Weight, or the minimum amount of points required to enter a hall, for all NTU halls this year was three points.

“Many activities such as recreational games only require one or two hours of your time a week, and can give you three to five points,” the 23-year-old said.

Impact on hall and club cultures

Hall 16’s JCRC president Wilson Toh is concerned that the move will see students signing up for activities only to gain admission points.

“While (the new scheme) might drive students to participate more, we don’t want them to join activities just to get points, because after they reach their quota they might be unmotivated to contribute further,” said the 22-year-old.

“Earning hall admission points should be considered as a bonus. The real reward for students should be helping to build their school’s and hall’s culture. The points themselves should not be the main objective,” he added.

But this change may help clubs who have had trouble finding students to fill their leadership positions this semester, said Hall 15 president Low.

The Nanyang Chronicle reported in September that student clubs and JCRCs have seen a decline in the number of students willing to take up leadership roles after the two-year guaranteed hall stay policy was implemented.

“With the announcement of the new scheme, I think that we will start to see more students willing to sign up for leadership roles,” said Low.