This post will go through what is needed for the Singapore exchange in NUS for ECS students. It should act as an informative guide for anyone looking to do the same exchange. As the application process takes a long time, it’s easy to be worried about whether something is going wrong. Therefore, this post will highlight all the required steps to take and the time when to take them.
My name is Brian, I just recently graduated with an MEng in electronic engineering with AI form Southampton. At the time when I applied for the exchange, I was in my third year.
The first and most important step is to apply, this opportunity will likely not be presented to you, however, it is open to all students apart from Computer science taking a MEng in the school of electronics and computer science (ECS). To Apply I recommend Emailing first ECS’s exchange coordinator to see if you’re eligible. In my case, I contacted him on the 26-11-2017 for the exchange starting on the 8-1-2019 hence quite some time in advance!
You’ll firstly have to email an application to study abroad form to the exchange coordinator, this is a simple form detailing your module marks for the past years and motivation. There is only a 300-word section to fill in on why the school should nominate you for an exchange opportunity.
To give you an example, this is what I submitted:
The National University of Singapore is a globally respected institution in a multicultural country which would allow me to grow and stand out for future employment opportunities. I grew up in Portsmouth and have known many international students who have come to England to study during their undergraduate years. The cultural differences have surely been a challenge for them, but they have used the difficulties incurred and broadened their outlook. I personally would welcome the opportunity to study and work abroad, especially in Singapore, a vibrant multicultural country. I feel that by living abroad for one semester will significantly broaden my horizons and hopefully bring me up to speed with their mindset in fact, according to research, 80% of students that studied abroad believed it helped them succeed in their field. Out of all the places I chose Asia as I regard it the most challenging place to go, where I expect their culture and way of life to be radically different from my own. This will allow me to further develop as a person. As studying abroad has shown that It shows not only diversity, but that you can successfully overcome problems thrown your way. In fact, another study has shown that 80% of companies actively seek graduates who studied abroad. Another big reason for my decision is Singapore’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem, overall, my career goal is to start my own business/start-up. Singapore thanks to initiatives such as block 71 has managed to create such an environment. My aim is not only to go study in Singapore but also network and discover the entrepreneurial life, which lessons will help me in the future to fulfil my dreams. I hope the above is enough to convince the university to nominate me.
The deadline to email this to the exchange coordinator was the 31st of January 2018.
I received a confirmation on the 9th of March 2018 that I was successful from the exchange office, hence don’t be stressed if you don’t hear anything for months.
After confirming myself and my family were happy for me to take this commitment I had to wait for the exchange institution (NUS, Singapore) to send me an invitation to complete their application process.
The institution contacted me on the 27th of September 2018 to complete the application for the 1st of October. I suggest sending an email on the latter part of September to the exchange office if you haven’t yet heard from them as the portal is open between the 1st of September and the 1st of October.
The application was simple, but it would have helped to have more time. The main purpose is to submit which modules you want to take (10 in total) ranked 1 as the favorite and 10 as the least favorite. You’ll likely won’t get all modules you’ve applied for as NUS has closed numbers.
This might change, but these are the modules available for the 2019 non graduating student cohort http://www.nus.edu.sg/registrar/info/ng/NG-Modules.pdf
As a MEng student, you’ll have to choose modules level 4000 and above (5000,6000). These are postgraduate modules where both 4000 and 5000 are for masters and 6000 for PhD level. I was accepted in Digital entrepreneurship 5000, Advanced topics in ML 6000, Neural networks 5000 and Knowledge discovery methods in Bioinformatics 4000. You’ll also have to submit a copy of your grade transcript.
The host institution will contact you back in mid-November, in the meantime, you can complete all documents issued by the exchange office, this includes a risk assessment, proof of insurance, learning agreement, scholarship agreement and proof of enrollment.
After the institution has contacted you and confirmed the modules you’ll be taking you can meet with the exchange coordinator to discuss them.
Again in the meantime (mid-November) you can also apply for accommodation. The most popular choice is UTown residence, this is a place with amazing NUS bus services which are free and connect you across the whole campus and the Kent Ridge MRT station, affordable food choices within the Flavours and FoodLine courts, fee gym and an infinity pool. As it is so highly ranked, it is also the most prestigious option and likely where all students will apply, hence the competition is fierce. Overall, however, 2 of the 4 exchange students were awarded a place, hence your probability of success is quite high. Alternatively, you might get a place at Eusoff, which although is not as nice, it’s cheaper, has a mandatory meal plan (which will save you a LOT of money) and you’ll be sharing with local students!
I applied on the 19th of November and although I was rejected on the 26th, I was accepted during the appeal round to which I applied on the 11th of December, getting a place on the 20th of December in UTown. My other friends got a place on the 26th of November.
The next step to having to complete the visa, details about it will be emailed to you towards the end of November, you’ll be applying for a student pass (a physical green ID card) through the SOLAR system by filling in an online form called eform16. The submission costs 30 Singaporean Dollars (S$). When the application is approved (end of December/beginning of January, Mine was approved on the 1st of January) there is another S$60 issuance fee to pay (print the receipt, you’ll need it as proof in Singapore), print and sign the eform16. At this point you can download from SOLAR an IPA letter (a letter used on the day of entry in Singapore), you’ll also get an email with some terms and conditions to sign.
Before the 31st of December 2018, there is also to complete the part one registration to receive the NUS credentials (Student ID, PIN and NUSNET). NUS should contact you with further details in mid-December (in my case the 14th). There are also some miscellaneous fees to pay, which for exchange students in the second semester 2019 was S$131.46.
At this point, you’ll have everything in place to travel in Singapore.
At the arrival, you will need to get an original copy of the IPA letter, which is stamped with the NUS logo. This is done in the second part of the registration. This event will also hand out the NUS student card which will have to be activated online. In the end, they will also issue your appointment time for the ICA off-site enrollment exercise which you will need to attend in order to get the Student pass. In case you need to leave the country before this appointment date (exams in Malaysia) you need to get an online appointment at the ICA headquarters before your departure date and bring all the relevant documentation. They will process you within the day and issue the student pass. The process takes about 2 hours.
At this point, you have completed all formalities to be a full-time exchange student at NUS! These were mostly the registration with the university and the student pass visa.
Well done! And enjoy your time in Singapore!
More details can be found at http://www.nus.edu.sg/registrar/info/ng/NG-Registration-Guide.pdf They will update it to the right semester in due time.