Monday, August 01, 2011

NUS Residence Admission Scheme (RAS)

Clubs & Societies Logos

NUS(National University of Singapore) has been using CCA (co-curricular) points as a standard of judgement to decide who gets to live in campus. That is until this year.

After a year long warning, NUS has finally implemented the Residence Admission Scheme (RAS) and abolish CCA points. The goal is to do away with all the abuses of CCA points by clubs and societies and to promote students to have a genuine interest for joining CCA, and not joining in just for the points. It also serves to balance some overly zealous students from joining too much CCA until it affects his or her studies.

The RAS is based on Categories.

Category A, Executive & Management Committees of Student groups : other than the confirmed stay of 10 NUSSU Executive Committees and all 4 of each constituent clubs's Committee; the 4 of each societies and interest group's committee are to be balloted into 200 places. Assuming the information at and
are updated and accurate, this translates to 46% chance for each of the selected 4 inside societies and interest groups.

Category B, Special Schemes: Varsity Athletes (the Sports Club alone has 26 member clubs inside it) are selected, limited to 100 places, CFA (Centre for Arts) groups (24 groups) are selected up to 50 places.

Category C, Halls of Residence: Hall masters selects 50 students who offers vibrancy to the hall, all members of JCRC (Junior Common Room Committee), and selection of Hall residences by SCRC and JCRC, based on contribution, subject to senior undergraduate quota (assumed to be half of total hall places in the estimates below). Practically it means some spaces are opened up and it is easier to get into a hall, but most are still controlled by the halls.

Category D, Members of Student Groups: This allows NUSSU & the Constituent Clubs to select amongst themselves 300 guaranteed places. The societies and Interest Groups has to squeeze again, 10 members from each balloted into 200 places. This translates to 18.5% chance of each recommend students to get a place.

Category E, General Student Population: General Senior Undergraduate population (Local - Yr 2 & above, International Yr 3 & above) students in this category will ballot for the remaining places at residences and halls, after accommodating SEP students, the guaranteed students mentioned above, and the first and second year international students. The students who did not managed to get spaces via the two 200 places above will fall to this category too. The chances then depends on how many local students would want to apply for campus accommodation next year, assuming that all international students would want to.

So, in a daring estimate of 20% of Local students would want to live in campus (for living too far or not having a home in Singapore), the chances would be 30% for each student. This is of course if all the figures for the accomodation and no. of students at and,

are correct. Plus no students illegally harbour other students in their rooms, also taking into account the places that University Town which helps to reduce the competition, and one on one exchange for SEP, assuming 1000 SEP student a year, for both semesters, also 20% of all students are international students, which splits half-half into undergraduates and graduate students. If all these figures are correct, then 30% is a pretty good estimate, with an estimated error of 3% or less.

So this means that for societies and interest groups, the 4 in the Committee gets a total of 62% of being selected to live in campus, the 10 amongst the members gets a total of 43% chance, while the vast majority will remain with 30%. That is if there is still a vast majority left.

For those who are used to the CCA points and sees on campus housing as a reward for working hard at CCA, this spells trouble, not only for societies and interest groups (which compromises the majority of non-Hall CCA, but also for CFA, Athletes, NUSSU & constituent clubs, and even the Halls!).

If humans are logical programmable beings with no interest in CCA other than to get on campus housings, the number of people at all these CCA will decline to a bare minimum of those places guaranteed by RAS. And all students, especially those who plans to go through university without joining CCA and yet wants to stay on campus for the convenience, will apply for NUS accommodation. If that happens, then the 30% chance drops to as low as 7% when all students apply for accommodation.

As if that is not bad enough, the random balloting means that there will be cases like a very hard-working Vice President at a very active society, spending 30 hours per week on CCA, does not get a space in campus despite having 50% chance (selected for top 4 and all students apply for on campus housing) compared to someone who does not do anything in CCA but is successful in applying for accommodation despite the 7% chance.

Imagine the amount of complains OSA (Office of Student Affairs) has to quell down early next year as the accommodation results are released. Imagine the number societies who had to cut down their activities due to lack of manpower and members. Large scale activities gets harder for societies and interest groups to undertake if they lack the spirit of Halls and Clubs (those who are able to produce rag floats). Even the Clubs and to a lesser extend, the Halls will have to cut down on their activities as the competition for the members to get the highest position available increases.

Talented members for a particular society or interest groups may decide to join in CFA, Sports, NUSSU & Constituent Clubs, or stick closer to their Halls despite being second best at all these. Just because if they are selected in all the others, it is 100% guaranteed. This spells a really big trouble for all societies and interest groups (Remember they are the majority of the non-Hall CCAs). Each society and interest groups then has to either develop the spirit of "togetherness" resembling the halls or perish. This might be easier for the religious societies as they can rely on spirituality to bind them together, to work for a greater goal than material things.

Each societies and interest groups are required to submit their internal recognition scheme to OSA yesterday and are advised to announce their respective schemes to the members so that the members can plan it all properly.

It seems that the rise or fall of a society or interest group then depends on how cleverly they present and decide on their internal recognition scheme. This year's Welcome Tea season will witness many freshmen comparing each society's scheme. Being the clever students who managed to come into NUS, if they inherit the mindset of "CCAs are for housing", then the societies who are unskillful will perish on the day of their Welcome Tea itself.

How then, can everyone avert this crisis?

Are the Management Committees of each societies and interest groups supposed to compare the internal recognition scheme of everyone else and set theirs to be lower and easier to get? No matter how easily one can get the recommended list, the fundamental problem is that there is too little spaces to give. The competition is too high, too tough, too unfair.

What is the solution then?

Here I present a humble suggestion:

The most honest approach is to really recognise this fundamental problem and tell the members to scrap the outdated mindset of yesteryears. Sincerely ask them to join in the CCA purely based on interest sake and because they see the inherent benefit (learning about how to run a society, more about the particular subject etc...), nothing else. Expecting for anything else will cause suffering. A realistic project to work on by each CCA group is to develop the social aspect of their respective group to become closer, nicer, warmer, and more desirable to be in. That is to make the members feel that there is more to the society than the materialistic aspect.

Also everyone has to discard the old mindset of "on campus Housing is reward for CCA", especially amongst each and every Management Committee members in each and every CCA group. Let this change not cause trouble but to bring about change (of mindset) that will empower each CCA groups. This can only happen if everyone in a CCA group thinks in the same way. So you are welcomed to read and pass this on.

Note: image is taken from, the estimates for the chances are done by the author. Email to request the Excel sheet calculation if you are interested, improvements and corrections to the calculations are welcomed.

No comments: