Frequently Asked Questions
Click on headers to view frequently asked questions about Tembusu College.
What is a residential college?
The Residential Colleges (RCs) aim to meld living and learning environments. Students residing in the RCs enrol in a carefully designed curriculum, comprising interdisciplinary courses taught in small-group seminars. This is supplemented by various learning opportunities outside the classroom, ranging from casual conversations with Fellows to formal dinners and forums. Students often strike a balance between work and play by initiating events and activities, thus promoting a collegial culture.
The residential college concept has been borrowed from elsewhere in the World but is being developed in a unique way in Singapore.
Life at Tembusu College: you live, learn and engage with one another.
You live together in a building with 600 other students and the Master and Residential Fellows. You can have meals together, and leisure time can be spent at common lounges or themed rooms like the Reading Room or the Oasis.
You learn as you read courses (part of the University Town College Programme - UTCP) with other students of the College (formal learning with approximately 15 per class); there’s also Out-of-Classroom Teaching through Master’s Teas, Tembusu Forums etc. Not forgetting, there’s also the Senior Learning Experience.
You engage in College life through student interest groups or in the many events that happen during semester. In addition to Tea sessions, we have had formal dinners, cultural night, music evening etc. A wide range of student interest groups (with interesting names!) have also been formed including an acapella group (Treblemakers), a Frisbee team (Tembusu Barefoots), a film appreciation club (Filmbusu), an Overseas Community Involvement Project (tEnpower) and a debating society (tDebate). Want to start up your own interest group? Don’t fret! In Tembusu College, students are given the opportunity to be creative and form a group with peers of similar passion!
What is the similarity between College of Alice & Peter Tan (CAPT), Residential College 4 (RC4) and Tembusu College?
All three colleges are part of the University Town College Programme (set of courses and 2 years of residence for incoming freshmen, with the option of a third year/fourth year); For Tembusu students, a tailored Senior Learning Experience will be available for students who continue with residence in the College after their second/third year respectively. All colleges also involve students contributing to a college community.
What is the difference between Ridge View Residence College (RVRC) and Tembusu College?
Like Tembusu College, RVRC offers a two-year programme. However, Tembusu College offers the University Town College Programme (UTCP) while RVRC has their own programme. Freshmen from all faculties are able to apply to Tembusu College while RVRC typically only accepts applications from all faculties.
Tembusu College is located within University Town and RVRC is located on the main part of the NUS Kent Ridge campus.
What is the difference between the halls/residences and the residential colleges?
The seven Halls of Residence place major emphasis on student development through active involvement in community work, sports and the arts. Residents get to immerse themselves in the tradition of communal hall life and participate in co-curricular activities ranging from Hall Productions to Inter-Block Games to Youth Expedition Projects.
For Student Residences (e.g Prince George’s Park Residence), a minimal framework of community engagement and programmes gives students the flexibility to experience independent living while still having opportunities to interact with fellow residents if they so wish.
The Residential Colleges offer students an integrated living and learning experience where the line between formal and informal learning is blurred. Residents not only read courses which are interdisciplinary, innovative and taught in small classes, but are also exposed to a host of different settings through Master’s Teas, forums, and talks where they actively engage with distinguished visitors and interesting speakers. We also provide opportunities for students to participate in College life through interest groups etc.
How do I know if I should apply or will fit in to Tembusu College?
If what we have shared and what you have read on our website and collaterals interest you, we say you should apply! The beauty behind Tembusu College is that we welcome everyone from diverse backgrounds and help you discover and/or pursue your passion in the college community. Everyone will be able to find something here!
What is a Rector and what they do for students? How do Professor Tommy Koh, Former Minster Mrs. Lim Hwee Hua associate with our Tembusu College?
The Rector provides guidance on our students' welfare and holistic development. The Rector is deeply involved in the informal part of the educational programme at the College, such as through the Tembusu Forum and, now, Tembusu Conversations series. With the latter, students are exposed to distinguished speakers and issues related to technological innovations, financial, geopolitical and social shifts. Additionally, the Rector meets with different groups of students regularly through the Master’s Tea sessions and over dinners.
Is there any financial aid or scholarship that I can apply for?
Yes, do check out the details on both the Office of Student Affairs page on Residential Colleges and our website. Feel free to contact the College administration if you have questions on that.
How do I apply to UTCP/Tembusu College?
Incoming students apply to the College via the Joint Residential College Application System portal. When applying, you can indicate your preference, if any, for CAPT, RC4 or Tembusu College if you are interested in the UTown College Programme (UTCP), or RVRC if you are interested in the RVRC programme. However do note that your eventual placement (if selected) may be different (CAPT, RC4, Tembusu College or RVRC may offer you a place even if it is not the college you have indicated as your choice). You will not be able to make any changes to your choice once you have submitted your application.
How are students selected?
We select students based on a written application and interview. In the written application, students write two short essays, of which, one is centred on their idea of a Residential College, and their potential affinity with the college. Students whose written applications are shortlisted are invited for interview. We are looking to recruit a diverse set of students with varied interests to contribute to the College community, not simply based on grades.
Can I go on Student Exchange Programme (SEP)?
As an NUS student you can go overseas on a SEP through partner universities all over the World via the NUS Global Relations Office (GRO). We actively encourage incoming students to go on SEP after their first year. In such circumstances we ‘stop the clock’ so students can return to the college after SEP to complete the UTCP and continue to contribute and participate in College life.
Do we need to participate in interest groups to secure my stay? How does the College decide on who to retain beyond the second year?
We do not adopt any CCA point system here. We are interested in individuals who are able to contribute to the College in different ways or at times, even individuals who may benefit from staying on; essentially we are more focused on you being a good citizen of the College. This means being collegial and interested in College courses, events and the community.
I am serving National Service (NS) and will only matriculate in 2 years’ time. Can I still apply to the UTCP?
Yes. In the event you are successful in your application, a place will be reserved for you in the year that you matriculate into NUS. With that said, you can also choose to apply only in the year you matriculate.
Can I apply to the UTCP and campus accommodation at Halls of Residence or Student Residences concurrently?
You may apply to Halls of Residence and Student Residences at the same time you submit an application for the UTCP or while awaiting your application outcome from the UTCP. However, you will only be able to hold on to one offer eventually.
What is the University Town College Programme (UTCP)?
The UTCP is an interdisciplinary academic programme. For cohorts AY2021/2022 and after, this comprises of a set of 4 courses taken at the College (1 Junior Seminar, 2 Senior Seminars and 1 Ideas and Exposition course) which may satisfy students’ General Education Requirements and a fifth course with their faculties/degree programmes which will fulfil one of the 21st Century Competencies pillars: Digital Literacy or Data Literacy. Acknowledgement for completion of the UTCP is placed on students’ university transcript, and recognized by a College certificate. Generally, these are not extra courses.
More information can be found here.
What are the courses under the UTCP like?
Courses are interdisciplinary. They generally fulfill the role of developing skills of critical thinking, questioning and argumentation, broadening students through them responding to ideas outside their own discipline. Small class size allows an intimate, relaxed learning environment with attention for each student. The junior and senior seminar offered are exclusive to each college so do check website for list of courses.
How are the college courses counted towards graduation?
For Cohorts AY2016/2017 until AY2020/2021, Most students who complete the UTCP are exempted from four of the five courses of the GE curriculum. This means that four UTCP courses will be read in place of the GE courses and the fifth UTCP course is taken as an Unrestricted Elective (UE). The university requires all undergraduates (with the exception of Law, Medicine, Dentistry and Nursing) to complete the GER1000 Quantitative Reasoning (QR) course. This is the fifth GE course, and serves to complete the GE requirement for UTCP students. This course will be pre-allocated to you in your first or second semester. Students should check with their faculty on their graduation requirements.
For Cohorts AY2021/2022 and after, The UTCP is designed as an alternative pathway to the General Education programme at NUS. For more details on how the UTCP curriculum fits into your graduation requirements, please visit the following website.
I’m a double degree student. Can I apply? Do I have to read all courses in the UTCP?
Applications are open to students from all degree programmes.
The requirement to read courses is informed by the space available in particular programmes. This will be decided finally through a particular, individual learning plan. The mapping of the UTCP courses to the GE pillars is up to the discretion of the GE committee. It is possible that the UTCP courses can be used as Unrestricted Elective (UE) courses. Several DDPs allow students the opportunity to complete the 4 UTCP courses within their degree structure.
I'm a student from the College of Humanities and Sciences (CHS). Can I apply? Do I have to read all courses in the UTCP?
Yes, students from the College of Humanities and Sciences (CHS) are welcome to apply. For UTCP students from NUS College of Humanities and Sciences (CHS) who read the four UTCP courses (a Junior Seminar, an Ideas & Exposition course and two Senior Seminars), you will be exempted from the following four CHS Common Curriculum Courses:
- Communities and Engagement
- Interdisciplinary Course I
- Interdisciplinary Course II
Please visit the following website for more details:
I’m a Polytechnic student with course exemptions. Can I apply? Do I have to read all courses in the UTCP?
Polytechnic students with exemptions are welcome to apply.
For Cohorts 2016/2017 until 2020/2021, Most students who complete the UTCP are exempted from four of the five courses of the GE curriculum. This means that four UTCP courses will be read in place of the GE courses and the fifth UTCP course is taken as an Unrestricted Elective (UE). Students should check with their faculty on their graduation requirements.
For AY2021/2022 onwards, The UTCP is designed as an alternative pathway to the General Education programme at NUS. For more details on how the UTCP curriculum fits into your graduation requirements, please visit the following website:
Is it stressful to read the UTCP? Isn’t a Hall/Residence better since I don’t need to read any courses?
The courses here are complementary with your degree programme.
For students from cohort 2016/2017 until 2020/2021, the five courses you read with us will be able to substitute four of the University Level Requirement (16MCs) and one Unrestricted Elective (4MC)
For the incoming cohort (AY2021/2022), The UTCP is designed as an alternative pathway to the General Education programme at NUS. For more details on how the UTCP curriculum fits into your graduation requirements, please visit the following website:
If you are in a non-modular faculty (e.g. Law, Medicine, Dentistry) or programmes with special curricular restrictions, you may have these UTCP modular requirements reduced, altered or waived. And the academic offerings here are at no extra cost! The only cost will be the meal plan and accommodation cost. If you are looking for an enriching University life, one that is balanced and a place where you will be offered both academic and non-academic opportunities, this is the place for you.
I am an incoming freshman. Will I be eligible for the grade-free semester if I participate in the UTCP?
The grade-free semester is available to incoming students in the modular Faculties/Schools. Students from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and Faculty of Law have their own versions of the grade-free system. In other words, students in the UTCP will be able to enjoy the grade-free experience like other NUS students.
Accommodation / Meal Plan
How much does it cost to stay at a College?
Students only pay for their accommodation and their meal plan at the College (there is no extra cost for the courses they read under UTCP, or for the informal programme of teas, forums, etc.). Room cost depends on which type of room you choose – single room along corridor or within a suite, aircon or non-aircon.
Room Rental Fees
What is the meal plan? Can I have meals outside the College?
The meal plan provides students with two meals a day during the week (breakfast and dinner) and two meals at the weekend (Saturday breakfast and Sunday dinner). An important part of College life is eating meals together – that is the rationale behind the plan. There are plenty of other dining options at UTown for those meals that are not provided. There are, however, very limited cooking facilities within the Colleges.
Do I get to choose my room and/or suite mates?
You may indicate your preference to live in a single room along a common corridor or within a suite (aircon/non-aircon) although when demand exceeds supply, not everyone will be able to be given their preferred choice/s. As we would like to provide you with opportunities to meet new people and embrace diversity as much as we do at the College, we randomly allocate students to their rooms based on floor preferences and room types you had indicated via the University Hostel Management System (UHMS).
Who can enter Tembusu? Can I bring my friends and family into the College? Can my friends stay over or study here?
Sure, you can bring your friends and family for a visit. I am afraid we are not able to accommodate friends staying over due to security reasons (you don’t want unfamiliar faces loitering around your room I am sure!). If they wish to study with you, there is a one to one ratio we abide by; one friend to one resident ratio.
Can I go home in the middle of the week?
Do I clean my own room/corridor/suite/toilet/laundry?
You are in charge of the cleanliness of your room and your laundry. However, the corridors and bathrooms are taken care of by the cleaners.
Can I bring in electrical appliances like a refrigerator for my room?
You can, provided you declare. Various fees are involved. I suggest you write to the Tembusu Management Office (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more details.