Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is opening the doors to two new residential halls this week. With this, another 1,200 students will get to live on campus. A residential place is highly sought after on the NTU campus, with every freshman offered a guaranteed place so they get to experience a residential campus life.
Named the Pioneer and Crescent Halls, the two new halls allows the University to pilot new pedagogical models which will integrate learning both within and outside the formal curriculum for its residents.
Associate Professor Kwok Kian Woon, Associate Provost (Student Life) said, “Having two new halls gives us the opportunity to try out various fresh concepts from architecture to pedagogies. The new halls will offer a distinctive residential experience with programmes that will imbue students with the hallmarks of an NTU education. These include character, civic-mindedness, competence in knowledge and lifelong learning, great communication skills, and creativity.”
Headed by two senior faculty-in-residence, the students will be mentored and guided by experts, with programmes that provide for deep experiential learning. Students will benefit from real world leadership and teamwork opportunities and a broad range of events and activities to enhance their life skills.
For instance, they will get a chance to network with prominent community and industry leaders, take part in global and community projects, and participate in various enrichment activities. The new halls will also allow students with strong leadership potential to have a big role in hall life.
NTU’s new icons of sustainability
Designed as Y-shaped blocks resembling tree branches, the halls will also be a vital test-bed for innovative green technologies, and plans are already underway to make the entire facility a model of sustainable living for the 21st century.
In 2013, the two new halls achieved Green Mark Platinum status – the highest award for an individual building given by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) for environmental sustainability.
Among the environmentally-friendly features at the new halls is a bioswale or rain garden that will be integrated with the overall landscape. The bioswale is planted with native vegetation to help slow down and filter rainwater, which can then be pumped back as clean water in the upstream pond and recycled to water the plants in the vicinity.
To reduce the need for air-conditioning, all rooms have been fitted with double-glazed windows, while louvers on selected floors further shield the hall from direct sunlight. Residents will enjoy good ventilation with an average wind speed of 0.6 m/s for the majority of the rooms. This was accomplished after computer modelling of sun and wind patterns on-site by the architects prior to design and construction.
The halls will tap on solar power for its energy needs. For example, 300 panels of solar cells on the rooftops and solar water heaters have been installed to meet the residents’ needs for energy and hot water.
Residents will be encouraged to recycle their waste. Dual refuse chutes have been installed to facilitate recycling, with compost bins for converting waste into natural fertilizer for gardening purposes. The halls also have two charging stations for electric vehicles.
“Sustainability research ranks high amongst NTU’s research areas. At the two new halls, students will get the opportunity to experiment with and understand sustainable practices and more importantly, to walk the green talk,” said Associate Professor Kwok.
Working together with the Students’ Union, NTU project managers incorporated the students’ ideas into the design of the hall. These include the addition of a sports plaza comprising a half-basketball court, and barbeque pits.
The halls are part of NTU’s campus master plan that aims to transform the campus into a bustling mini-city. By 2016, NTU will be able to house an additional 5,000 students on campus when more halls are completed. NTU is also set to become the greenest eco-campus in the world, with its aim to have a 35 per cent reduction in energy, water and waste by 2020.
New core courses
To broaden their learning experience, NTU students take up General Education Requirement (GER) courses that are divided into 3 categories – General Core Courses (GER-Core), Prescribed Electives (GER-PE) and Unrestricted Electives (GER-UE).
From AY2014 onwards, there will be new GER-Core courses for the new cohort of freshmen. This consists of three single-AU courses in key subject areas relating to Sustainability, Enterprise & Innovation and, Ethics & Moral Reasoning. The three courses are designed to nurture the desired attributes of an NTU graduate – civic mindedness, creativity and moral character.
In addition, two new single-AU career related courses will also be offered – Absolute Basics for Career and Career Power Up.
Content and course assessment for these five new courses will be delivered entirely online and will be on Pass/Fail basis. There will be minor restructuring of the curriculum in some programmes and generally no increase in academic units (AU) will be required.
New academic changes to ease freshmen’s transition into university
In this new academic year, NTU will also make provisions to ease the freshmen’s transition into university life.
“The annual student surveys have shown that one of the key concerns of students is their Grade Point Average (GPA). We want our students to experience a vibrant university life and not be too caught up with grades especially in the first year as they are still discovering new things such as the university system,” said Senior Associate Provost of Undergraduate Education, Professor Kam Chan Hin.
To take the pressure off them in the first year, a freshman who does not attain a pass in their first attempt in a course can automatically exclude it from his/her Grade Point Average (GPA) computation. They can have up to six courses exempted from GPA computation that way – but only in the Freshman Year.
They will retake the exams for those courses where they did not make the minimum pass grade, and the grade for the second attempt will then be used to compute the student’s GPA.
On average, only a very small percentage of each freshmen cohort in the last three years did not manage to clear at least one course on their first attempt.
Professor Kam said, “The new grading system is meant to help the minority of freshmen who may need more time to adjust to the rigours of university education. The new system will lessen the overall “stress level” of freshmen.”
The GPA exemption applies to all examinable and non-examinable courses taken in students’ first two semesters of study including adjoining special terms, regardless of the Academic Units (AUs) allocated.
Second and subsequent attempts will remain as per current practise, with the third and subsequent attempts carrying a lesser weightage in the final score. All results (whether excluded or included in the GPA) will still be recorded in the student academic transcript.
From this new academic year, the university is also adjusting the way it awards the passing grade for the existing Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory (S/U) option for all undergraduate general electives.
All those graded A, B, C and D will be given the satisfactory grade, while those graded F will be graded as unsatisfactory. This fine tuning is to encourage students to be more adventurous in their choice of broadening courses.
“We continue to ensure that NTU’s education remains competitive and at the highest of standards. At the same time, we also strive to support students in their academic endeavours, and equip them with the optimism and confidence to overcome obstacles,” said Professor Kam.
Nur Amin Shah
Assistant Manager (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: (65) 6790 4714
About Nanyang Technological University
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It has a new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI), Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N) and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight (ACI).
A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.
Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
For more information, visit www.ntu.edu.sg