SINGAPORE, Feb 10 — Addressing complaints about long queues for food and shuttle bus services caused by tourists visiting the National University of Singapore (NUS), the university will be introducing a pop-up visitor centre and “guided walk” programme for visiting tour groups, it said yesterday (Feb 9).

The initiative is aimed at helping to manage and regulate visitor traffic on campus and will be free for tourists, NUS said in a statement.

The walking tours will be curated to help visitors “understand our rich heritage and campus life” and will be led by trained student guides, given that they are “best placed to share first-hand experiences and perspectives”, the university added.

The announcement came after students from NUS and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) voiced their displeasure over what they felt was an influx of tourists visiting their campuses, causing various inconveniences.

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NTU introduced an entry fee for tourists, requiring all travel agencies planning tours to their campus to seek prior approval from the university from Feb 1.

It told TODAY that the entry fees would be charged per group and that the university would inform the group of the applicable entry fee that is “based on the requirements of the travel agencies”.

Taking a different approach, NUS said on Friday that it is not charging a fee because the university is an “open campus”.

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“It is a privilege to be able to welcome visitors — locally and from abroad — who share in our mission and are interested to learn more about the university.

“At the same time, ensuring a conducive environment for the best learning experience of our students, preserving campus vibrancy for an immersive student life, and keeping our facilities such as laboratories and classrooms safe and secure are important priorities.”

To this end, NUS said that it is mindful to minimise disruptions and safeguard the safety, security and privacy of students and staff members who are studying, working or living on campus.

As for its new visitor programme, it will be “up and running for the summer vacation season” from late July this year.

NUS students had mixed reactions about the university’s announcement when approached by TODAY.

A first-year social work student who wanted to be known only as Daniel said that the new measures do not “tackle the root cause of there being too many tour groups”.

“Having a tour guide take them around still means that they will be taking the same buses and eating at the same places they currently are,” the 21-year-old said.

“I think NTU’s system of having to register their tour groups may be more effective as it can regulate the number of groups at any given moment.”

However, another NUS student, an economics student in her fourth year of study who did not want to be named, believes that the student-led tours are a good idea.

“I’m glad NUS is taking this approach as opposed to charging a fee or trying to monetise the situation, which I personally feel can come across as a little hostile for visitors,” the 23-year-old said.

She noted that although the university did not address explicitly how the tours would lessen the crowds on shuttle buses and canteens, she was confident that “there would be some effective planning done by the guides in that aspect”.

“It’s always good to attract more publicity for NUS while mitigating potential disturbances on students.” — TODAY