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Singapore university charges tourist fee
Published on: Thursday, February 08, 2024
By: Today
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Singapore university charges tourist fee
Nanyang Technological University (Credit Nanyang Technological University)
SINGAPORE: Two top universities here are paying the price of success as foreign tourists flock to see their campuses, causing disruptions to students. One of them, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), has just imposed a fee to manage the influx of curious sightseers.

In recent weeks, students from both NTU and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have used online forum Reddit to air their grievances over inconveniences they feel tourists have caused.

Chief among them are long winding queues at canteens during lunch hours, loud voices echoing throughout common study spaces causing distractions, and road jams caused by tour buses picking up, dropping off and waiting for tourists.

NTU students told TODAY they have also faced distractions such as phone cameras flashing and, for at least three years during classes at The Hive, some have had tourists peeping over their shoulders there.

The Hive is a popular photo opportunity for tourists because the building’s facade bears a resemblance to dim sum baskets.

Some tourists have even entered classrooms while lessons were still underway.

Cathryn Wong, 27, who studies English literature at NTU, said: “Last week, one group just walked in, sat down, and listened to the lecture (for the last 20 minutes).”

NTU announced last Thursday (Feb 1) that it would henceforth require all travel agencies planning tours to their campus to seek prior approval from the university.

Tourist groups will be required to pre-register online and schedule visits in advance.

An entry fee, which the university said is to support campus maintenance and the regulation of vehicle flow, would also be charged.

NTU has yet to respond to TODAY’s query on how much the fee will be and how it will work.

Tour operators and some of the tourists themselves said that the appeal to visit the NUS and NTU campuses stems from the fact that both have consistently ranked among the top universities in Asia.

When TODAY visited both schools last Wednesday, three separate groups of tourists from China said that they wanted their children — ranging in age from seven to 16 — to observe what campus life was like at these universities.

In 2023, Times Higher Education, a British magazine that publishes global university rankings yearly, ranked NUS third and NTU fifth overall in Asia. Globally, the universities ranked 19th and 36th respectively.

Long lines for food and buses

When TODAY arrived at NUS around noon last Wednesday, the Flavours@UTown canteen was packed, with long queues at every stall.

Several groups of tourists, each comprising about a dozen school-aged children and their caregivers, were seen seeking tables alongside NUS students. The food court is often packed till 2.30pm, students said.

A 21-year-old first-year student who wanted to be known only as Daniel said: “If I only have 30 minutes to eat before my next lesson, I don’t want to queue an hour for my food.”

Sophia Chen, 23, a third-year NUS law student, said that she first noticed long lines late last year, but noted that the numbers of tourists “seem to be increasing, especially in the last few weeks”.

 “As students, we rely on the short pockets of time we have in between our classes to have our meals and commute to our next class,” she added.

 “With the ever-increasing number of tourists, there are now barely seats in our dining areas and our internal shuttle buses.”

Numerous NUS students backed up Chen’s observations, telling TODAY that failing to get on these full buses had previously caused them to be late for their classes.

Students added that large tour buses occasionally stop and wait at U-Town’s main bus stop, which can cause jams since NUS shuttle buses would not be able to pick up students.

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