SINGAPORE, PERSPECTIVES

Foreign tourists have invaded two of Singapore’s universities

Evaluate if this invasion of two of our universities is a good thing. [25 marks]

Shawn Seah
5 min readFeb 11, 2024

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I sometimes get asked funny questions in guest lectures. Photograph by writer, taken several years ago (not from 2024).

Singapore has been facing a foreign invasion in recent months: I am not joking. Seriously: foreign tourists have invaded our National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU).

The Invasion Begins

This invasion, curiosity, phenomenon or whatever you want to call it was first aired on Reddit.

It was on that platform that undergraduates from both NUS and NTU raised their many concerns over inconveniences these hordes of tourists have apparently caused.

According to what one reads on the Internet, there are long, winding queues at jam-packed canteens during meal times; clamourous voices throughout common study spaces disrupting undergraduates’ studies; and traffic jams caused by tour buses and insufficient spaces on shuttle buses within NUS and NTU.

Various media platforms, jumping on the proverbial bandwagon (or is it the tourist bus?), even reported that NTU undergraduates also faced phone cameras flashing at them, violating their privacy. During classes at The Hive at NTU, some students even had tourists peeping over their shoulders; too close for comfort. Incidentally, it is said that the Hive’s facade apparently bears some resemblance to dim sum baskets.

If you are keen to learn more about the unfolding university drama, you could visit (no pun intended) these reports: Singapore university charges tourist fee; Singapore Universities Grapple with Tourist Disruptions; Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University imposes entry fee as tourists from China, Southeast Asia disrupt classes; and Hot Take: To fee or not to fee — what’s missing in debate on how NTU, NUS should deal with tourist crowds.

(Instead of choosing only Singaporean news sources like CNA and Straits Times, I also included other Asian sources, like SCMP, just to show that many Asians are following this show.)

NUS and NTU try to Tackle the Problem

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Shawn Seah

Singaporean writer and public speaker, passionate about education, social issues, and local history and community stories.