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Some NTU students fail to secure on-campus housing due to quota ‘imposed by authorities’, international students stranded

Some NTU students fail to secure on-campus housing due to quota ‘imposed by authorities’, international students stranded

File photo of Halls of Residence at the Nanyang Technological University (NTU). (Photo: Alif Amsyar)

SINGAPORE: Some Nanyang Technological University (NTU) students have failed to secure on-campus housing for the new academic year after hall occupancy was cut due to limits "imposed by the authorities", leaving international students scrambling to find alternative lodging.

In rejection emails sent out early on Thursday (Jul 1) to students who had applied for residential hall accommodation, NTU said: “Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there is a cap on the number of students staying in the halls imposed by the authorities, and fewer rooms are available because of the need to reserve a certain number for COVID-19 isolation and other related purposes.” 

Applicants who were already staying on campus must also vacate their rooms by Jul 15, said NTU in its email to students. 

“We will inform you if we are able to offer you a room when vacancies arise, such as due to rejected offers, or when the authorities increase the maximum permissible occupancy of rooms on campus,” the email read. 

“Hall applicants who do not have a local residence are strongly advised to arrange for off-campus housing for their housing needs.”

In its email, NTU provided a list of resources for off-campus housing options, including links to websites such as Agoda, Booking.com and Trivago, as well as the contacts of two student hostels.

Students who had their campus housing applications rejected said they were shocked by the notice.

A petition has since been started on Change.org calling for NTU to reconsider its decision, with more than 5,000 signatures as of noon on Friday. 

“This petition hopes that NTU and the Housing Auxiliary Service, will rightfully reconsider the THOUSANDS of students impacted by their inability to properly allocate student housing, and consider the welfare of the students who are returning the following academic year,” the petition read. 

In an update on its website when the three newest halls opened at NTU in September last year, NTU said more than 14,000 undergraduates would be able to live on campus. 

The university also guarantees incoming freshmen a spot on campus for the first two years, the post read. 

NTU’s hall allocation is dependent on a point system, and the cut-off point is determined by demand and supply. The maximum number of points a student can get is nine. 

If a student accumulates more points, they have a higher chance of securing a room on campus, said Mr Alvin Christian, a Year 3 student from Indonesia. 

“I collected seven points, out of nine. I think that much should give me a good chance to get a single room,” he added. He is one of the international students who failed to secure a spot. 

“I was about to sleep when there was a pop-up in my email. When I read it, it was like, 'oh my god, it's unsuccessful'. I checked with my friends in NTU and they all had the same problem.” 

The NTU Student Union said on Thursday evening that it is working with the university’s senior management on arrangements to help international students residing on campus, or those “most affected” by the situation. 

“While the details are being confirmed, international students who have been asked to vacate their residential halls will not be required to do so in the meantime,” the union said in a notice on Instagram. 

NTU will be reaching out to those students over the next few days to “address their concerns” on having to vacate by mid-July, the union said. 

“The union has conveyed to the university that international students currently residing on campus should be prioritised in the allocation process during such unprecedented times,” the notice read. 

In response on Friday to CNA queries, NTU said it had reviewed the number of hall places offered for the upcoming academic year “as part of safe management measures”. 

“This year has seen exceptionally strong demand for hall places,” said the university’s spokesperson. 

The university is currently reviewing the capacity to allow more students to stay on campus, said the spokesperson, adding that more updates will be provided in the next few days.
 
“With vaccinations now well underway and a good vaccination rate expected, as well as other safe management measures that we intend to apply, we are currently reviewing the capacity to allow more students to stay on campus.” 

Additional reporting by Melissa Goh.

Source: CNA/hw

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