Students turn 'squatters' amid varsity bed crunch

Students turn 'squatters' amid varsity bed crunch
NTU students (from left) Karan Kapoor, 21, Tan Ziyang, 22, and Tuen Weng Kuen, 22, share a room on campus. Mr Tuen, who pays $40 a month to sleep on the floor of his friends' room, is one of 400 students on NTU's temporary sharing hostel scheme which has been in place for more than five years.

SINGAPORE - Every night, undergraduate Tuen Weng Kuen throws a mattress on his friends' hostel room floor and shoves his clothes in a duffel bag under his roommate's bed.

Mr Tuen is what Nanyang Technological University (NTU) calls a "legal squatter". He is a sign of the times as universities face a bed crunch because of rapidly rising student numbers.

The 22-year-old has permission from NTU and his buddies to sleep on the floor of their room while paying the university $40 a month. Double-room rates there start at $210 per person.

However, legal squatters are not provided with a bed, study table or wardrobe. They have the option of renting a mattress from the hall office or using their own.

Mr Tuen is one of 400 students on NTU's temporary sharing hostel scheme which has been in place for more than five years.

More students are getting to know about it due to the increasing demand for hostel places. More than 98 per cent of NTU's 9,200 hostel places are filled.

To keep pace with demand, NTU and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have been ramping up accommodation options.

An NTU spokesman told The Straits Times that students will be able to move into two new hostels at Nanyang Drive from July next year. Three more at NTU's North Hill vicinity will be ready by 2015, and three others near Nanyang Crescent will be finished in 2016.

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