The Biggest Misconception About NTU and its Validity

passport to NTU
photo by craig James

Is NTU a little like China?

“You are going to NTU? Remember to bring your passport, because it sounds like you are going to a foreign country! “

The joke very well shows the impression that NTU gives to students and the general public: it is not so accessible, far away from town. The uniqueness of its location, compared to the three other universities, is often a source of comparison. However, the comparisons don’t just stop there. There are some myths surrounding NTU that you may have heard of before. Is NTU a little like China? Is NTU a school for geeks? If you are interested in finding more about the university, let Digital Senior walk you through some of the interesting bits.

A little bit about history

As you may know, the predecessor of Nanyang Technological University is Nanyang University. It was the first Chinese university outside China and it represented the unity of the overseas Chinese in advancing an important social cause: making Chinese-based education available for younger generation of Chinese students in South East Asia. After the change in education system, Nanyang University merged with part of National University of Singapore and became an English-based university that is NTU.

Probably due to its Chinese origin, NTU may give the impression that it is a little bit like China. It seems to have more Chinese national students and more Chinese national professors. Many of the shuttle bus drivers are from China and like to play the Chinese music while driving. Even some of the food outlets are catering the typical Chinese food found only in China. Why is it like that?

The reality

The historical reason aside, Digital Senior believes that a better explanation is that NTU started off as a science and engineering university, with strong faculties in those areas. NTU’s mechanical and electrical engineering course takes in more than twice as many students as that in NUS.

Incidentally, the students in China are also science and engineering oriented, due to the focus of their education system. When they are choosing a university in Singapore, it is not surprising that many of them would choose NTU. Together with the general influx of foreign students in China, NTU would have accepted a substantial number of students from China. As a result, you will see quite many students speaking with slightly different accent and preferring slightly different food on campus.

Changing Times

NTU is, however, not like what it used to be. Although its name remained unchanged, with the word ‘technological’ in its midst, it is no longer just a ‘technological’ university. In early 2014, NTU is ranked no.6 globally for its Communication and Media Studies subject, even surpassing NUS. To be removed from the image of being a university with a sharp focus on technical subjects, its business school is named ‘ Nanyang Business School’ and is placed in top 40 of the Financial Times MBA ranking for 6 straight years. It remains highly debatable till tody whether SMU, NUS or NTU’s undergraduate business program is the best. In non-technical modules such as those mentioned above, there is vastly lesser number of Chinese students as the bar for entry, in terms of the required command of English language is higher.

So are the rumors true ?

As with all good answers, it depends. If you are going to an engineering course where the intake is biggest in NTU, then yes. Same is true in NUS or other universities.  If you are going to an arts course, then the answer is no. However, statistically speaking, given that NTU has a big science and engineering faculty , the percentage of foreign students from China in general may be larger than that of other schools.

Is that good?

However, it may not be a big concern for you. It is always meaningful to interact with students from different backgrounds. If you are very much into your own Chinese culture and origin, making some Chinese friends from China can be an excellent idea( your grandparents are also likely from China). And you may be taught by some very good professors from China who are experts in their fields. Due to the foreign to local students ratio cap, it is unlikely that NTU will accept even more students from China in terms of percentage. So the joke that you will be going to a foreign country to study if you choose to study in NTU will not come true.


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