6 Jan 2006

Protest Over Fees Hike

NTU hostelites stay put to protest fee hike
By Loh Chee Keong, TODAY

SINGAPORE: Scores of residents at Nanyang Technological University's Hall Three are refusing to move into its new premises until the fees are revised, said the hostel's president.

Last month, NTU announced its proposed fee hikes. There was strong resistance, especially from Hall Three residents. The increase for them is the highest as they will be moving into a new seven-storey building complete with "premium" features such as air-conditioners, lifts and electronic card access.

According to Hall Three's president Lim Joo Tian, 23, a third-year Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering student, some 640 residents were supposed to move over from the old hostel - which was built more than two decades ago - to the new Hall Three by the start of this month.

But as of Thursday, more than half had not done so, he said.

Today understands that the students want the university to reduce the proposed fee hike and to stagger it.

Mr Lim, who has not moved out from the old hostel himself, added: "We sent a proposal to the administration about one or two weeks ago and we are waiting for a reply. Initially, we were given a deadline to move out by Jan 3 ... we expect the situation to be resolved in about three weeks."

For their old hostel, Hall Three residents paid $160 per month for single rooms and $135 for double rooms. The fees will rise to $350 for single rooms and $240 for double rooms for the new premises.

However, for the first six months, residents will pay concessionary room rates of $240 and $180 for single and double rooms respectively.

According to NTU, all hostel fees are already subsidised by up to 50 per cent. Also, an Office of Financial Assistance was set up to help needy students.

In June last year, the residents were told by the administration that the new rates would fall between $175 and $190.

Mr Luke How, 24, a final-year Biological Sciences student who was the previous president of Hall Three, told Today that the residents want the raised fees to be nearer to those indicative rates. - TODAY

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