Not many students would forgo the opportunity to further their studies in the established local universities, but that was what Ms Nur Faizah Abdul Ja'affar and Mr Muhammad Haziq Sulaiman did.
Both declined offers from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and National University of Singapore (NUS), opting instead for a place at the recently opened fourth government-aided local university - the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).
It was a decision that they did not regret one bit, despite initially surprising their parents with their choices. Both used to attend Meridian Junior College.
Mr Haziq, 22, was one of the 340 students who formed SUTD's pioneer batch two years ago. He had declined offers to further his studies in mechanical engineering at both NUS and NTU.
"Without a doubt, NUS and NTU are institutions which are more established and recognised. But, for me, engineering is a field which is always progressive and I felt that the education offered by SUTD would be able to fully equip me with the expertise to keep up with it," said the son of a housewife and an aircraft technician.
For Ms Faizah, 20, the practical nature of the education offered by SUTD attracted her to join the university.
She had declined the arts, design and media course offered by NTU, and materials science and engineering offered by NUS after being enticed by the fabrication lab facilities offered by the institution during her visit to the open house a year ago.
The daughter of a housewife and a taxi driver, Ms Faizah chose SUTD because of her interest in architecture, design and mathematics and started her stint last year.
She stays in SUTD's hostel in Dover Road. Each new student is required to stay in the student hostel for the first three terms of their university life.
The hostel, which has 88 four-room flat units, is just a three minutes' walk from the campus.
Each unit is 94 sq m and has three bedrooms, shared among six to nine students. Each student pays $280 monthly to stay in the hostel.
Ms Faizah said she likes the hostel culture as it encourages students to help each other, in and out of class. She usually stays in the hostel from Monday to Friday and spends her weekends with her family.
As for Mr Haziq, he stayed in the hostel an average of three nights a week in his first year, as he often missed his mother's cooking.
"The school does not make it compulsory for students to stay in the hostel each weeknight. We have the liberty to go home any time we want," he said.
This article by Berita Harian was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.
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