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September 2000, Vol. 3 No. 4 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
International Students in NUS
Ms Geraldine Lee
Office of Student Affairs

Over the last two years, there has been a significant increase in the number of international students in NUS. As of July 2000, matriculated international students numbered approximately 7,050 (3,350 undergraduates and 3,700 postgraduates). Enrolment is expected to increase as NUS strives to make 20% of the undergraduate student population international.

Our international students hail from over 25 different countries, with some from as far away as Russia and Mexico. With NUS’ active Student Exchange Programme, we also find on campus an additional 400 non-graduating international students from an even wider array of countries each year. An impromptu show of hands during last year’s orientation for non-graduating students revealed a representation of over 35 countries.

The increase in the intake of international students has required an expansion of university student housing. 499 single rooms on campus were recently added to the existing 2,794 places provided by the six halls of residence on campus. The Prince George’s Park housing complex, which is currently undergoing construction, is expected to add 2,850 new rooms when completed in 2001.

The challenges faced by international students studying at NUS are varied. The obvious difficulties are language, food, culture, homesickness, and having to relearn things locals take for granted, like how to use public transportation, make phone calls, what food to eat, and where to purchase their necessities.

The Office of Student Affairs (OSA) has responded to the increase in international students by setting up the International Student Services (ISS) unit with three full-time staff members dedicated to the welfare of international students. Some of our programmes and services are listed as follows:

  • Airport Reception Service

    Senior NUS student volunteers meet new students who request to be met at the airport, and accompany them back to campus if possible.

  • Orientation

    Four orientation sessions were held for new students in June and July of 2000—two for undergraduate students, one for graduate students, and one for non-graduating students. During these sessions, NUS administrative departments, Ministry of Education, Contact Singapore, Jurong Town Corporation, and NUSSU conducted presentations on their respective functions and highlighted relevant issues for new students, (e.g. Student’s Pass (visa) application, medical insurance, Tuition Grant, etc.). There was also a separate orientation organised by the Council of International Students for international freshmen. It consisted of a walking tour of the various faculties, a brief bus tour of some parts of Singapore, and a casual buffet dinner with other international freshmen.

  • Host Family Programme

    New students are matched with Host Family volunteers who are made up of faculty, alumni, and other members of the Singapore community. This programme is set up to welcome students into the life of a family living in Singapore and to provide opportunities to exchange viewpoints and attitudes on how arts and culture differ between countries.

  • Informational materials

    A comprehensive guidebook consisting of information that new students will need whilst studying in NUS and living in Singapore (e.g. health, immigration, banking, accommodation, transportation, etc.) and pre-departure information is printed yearly by OSA and distributed to all new international students. When they attend orientation, all new international students are also given an information pack which includes walking guides of local places of interest, information on places of worship, etc.

  • International Friendship

    New students who ask for an International Friendship partner will be matched with senior students (both local and international) who have volunteered to help new students adjust by answering questions and accompanying them off campus when necessary during their first month here. Students are encouraged to continue their friendship beyond this initial period.

  • International Student Advisory Service

    Three full-time staff members are dedicated to look into the welfare issues of international students who may seek help from them on anything and at any time. Referrals can be made when necessary.

  • Farewell teas for exchange students

    Toward the end of each semester, farewell teas are organised for exchange students to allow them an opportunity to bid goodbye to one another and for OSA to learn more about their experiences at NUS and in Singapore. This feedback is helpful as NUS expands the Student Exchange Programme to 600 students annually.

  • Formation of the Council of International Students (CIS)

    CIS is an informal group made up of senior international students who come together to volunteer assistance to new international students and to promote interaction between international and local students. The group reports directly to OSA.

  • Student’s Pass (visa) applications

    ISS provides information, advice, and forms, as well as collects Student’s Pass applications from students and submits them to Singapore Immigration and Registration on their behalf.

OSA has actively sought to promote the welfare and peace of mind of international students studying in NUS. The happiness of these students are vital as their presence contributes to NUS’ standing as a world-class university and enhances the global flavour of its campus life by giving Singaporean students the opportunities to study and work with others from all over the world. As the international student population at NUS increases, OSA will continue to improve its support services for them.

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Inside this issue
International Students in NUS
Foreign Students in the Faculty of Business Administration
Managing Foreign Students: The Science Approach
The English Language & the NUS Foreign Student