Where to stay in NUS: NUS hostel 101

Where to stay in NUS: NUS hostel 101

What is a residential college? How is hall life like? What’s the difference between hall and residences? Life in university presents you a myriad of choices for you to customize your university experience, and staying on-campus is just one of the many options available. If you have ever been or if you are still confused about the difference in the types of residences available in NUS, this article is for you.

Know what is available

Firstly, you have to know what options are available for you. In NUS, there are three types of accommodation: halls of residence, residential colleges, and student residences. Here’s a full list for new and prospective undergraduates:

  1. Halls of Residence
    • Eusoff Hall
    • Kent Ridge Hall
    • King Edward VII Hall
    • Raffles Hall
    • Sheares Hall
    • Temasek Hall
  2. Residential Colleges
    • Cinnamon College (USP)
    • College of Alice & Peter Tan
    • Tembusu College
    • Residential College 4
    • Ridge View Residential College
  3. Student Residences
    • Prince George’s Park Residences
What’s the difference?

There are too many fine details to delve into, so we’ll make do with a brief overview for comparison. Do note that information provided here was taken from various NUS websites and is subject to change.

a. Admission and Finance

Broadly speaking, residential colleges are the most expensive in terms of rates, while student residences are the least expensive. Both halls of residence and residential colleges have compulsory meal plans. To find more about specific room rates and meal plan prices, check out this website: http://www.nus.edu.sg/osa/has/undergraduate/hostel-rates

Are the prices scaring you off? Fret not, because financial assistance is available for both halls of residence and residential colleges. To top that, scholarships are available for students staying in residential colleges, especially those located in University Town. To find out more, this website gives you a comprehensive list of the financial aid and scholarships available for University Town: http://utown.nus.edu.sg/apply/financial-aid-and-scholarships/

The application process differs for each type of student accommodation. If you are applying to stay in a student residence, you will be randomly selected and allocated based on availability. Halls of residence select freshmen based on their pre-University Co-Curricular Activities and the availability of places. However, to apply for a room in a residential college, you first have to be accepted into the University Town College Programme (UTCP), University Scholars Programme (USP) or Ridge View Residential Programme (RVRC). This process includes a short essay to be submitted through the online portal, as well as an interview.

It is advisable to note that while residential colleges guarantee undergraduates a fixed number of semesters on-campus, halls of residence and student residences use the Residence Admission Scheme (RAS) for admissions after freshmen year. The RAS is a category-based admission scheme where there are a fixed number of places set aside for each category of students. These categories range from executive and management committees of student groups (Category A) to the general student population (Category E). You can find out more about it here, but you won’t have to worry too much about the RAS if you’re applying as a freshman: http://nus.edu.sg/osa/images/has/downloads/ras.pdf


The academic element is a key differentiating factor for residential colleges. In residential colleges, residents will have to complete a certain number of academic modules depending on which program they are under. Students under the University Scholars Programme will have to complete 12 modules over the course of the 4-year programme, students under the University Town College Programme will have to complete 5 modules over the course of the 2-year programme, and students under the Ridge View Residential College Programme will have to complete 3 modules under the 1-year programme.


What is interesting about this academic element is that both students and professors (and their families) will live in the same building. Residents can expect to see their professors in the dining hall over dinner or breakfast, and in the corridors if they live on the same floor.

To find out more specific details about each programme, you can check out the following websites:

c. Student Life

Student residences are more peaceful without the constant bustle of activity, a stark contrast to living in a hall or residential college. Each hall and residential college has their own specific activities; however broadly speaking both types of residences have common hall-wide or college-wide activities that you can expect to participate in if you choose to live in either.

Halls participate in the annual Inter-Hall Games (IHG), and the residential college equivalent is the annual Inter-College Games (ICG). Both types of residences have their own various interest groups, student committees and activities such as Halloween dinner and/or haunted house.


Several differences lie in the “hiong”-ness of activities. Halls generally have regular productions such as plays, musicals or dance performances. This is not really the case for residential colleges. However, residential colleges have regular talks by various invited guests on a variety of issues and topics, which is unique to their programme.

To sum it up

Each type of residence has different things to offer you, and ultimately your choice will depend on what you wish to get out of university life. It is my hope that you will at least have a brief idea of what each type of residence is like after reading this article.

If you want to find out more, you could ask a senior or your friends who are currently living in any of the accommodation offered by NUS, or visit LiveChat@NUS.

*disclaimer: Information presented in this article is taken from the NUS website and personal experiences from present NUS students who have lived in such accommodation. How accurately you would like to perceive this article is to your own discretion. Information provided here is also more relevant for local students.



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