If you’re thinking about sending your child to boarding school, Singapore is a good option for Hong Kong-based families. Just a four-hour flight away and with one of the highest education standards in the world, Singapore has a lot to offer. UWC South East Asia has hosted residential students in Singapore for almost 50 years. South African MARCEL CAMPBELL is Director of Residential Life at the school’s East Campus, and tells us more about what families can expect.
UWCSEA Fact File
Ages: 14 to 19 years
Grades of entry: 8, 9, 10 and 11 (Middle School, IGCSE, Foundation IB and IB Diploma)
East Campus: 149 boarders (2019/20 academic year)
Dover Campus: 164 boarders (2019/20 academic year)
Give us an insight into where your Singapore-based boarding students come from.
A small number of boarders have families residing in Hong Kong, and around 50 nationalities are represented in the boarding community as a whole. (In the entire student body we have around 90 nationalities!) So, our boarders not only gain insights into many different cultures, but also discover a deeper appreciation of what’s special about their own.
Life in the boarding community is enriched by the scholars who make up around 30 percent of our residential boarding community. These are students from all over the world who would not normally be able to access a UWCSEA education; they’re given a place based on academic ability and their commitment to UWC’s mission and values.
Can you tell us a bit about the boarding accommodation and facilities at the school?
Logistically, Singapore is easily accessible from all parts of the world. It’s a global city with a secure environment and an extensive transport network – an easy and safe place for our boarders to be given meaningful independence. Our residential life programme is carefully monitored to support students to develop important life skills on, and outside of, the campus.
As for accommodation, at both the East and Dover Campus, student rooms are based on age and grade; they’re located in single gender areas. They can be four-bedded rooms, two-bedded rooms or single accommodation, depending on the campus and grade. Students are given hotel-style security key-card access to the boarding house and their particular floor.
How has UWCSEA coped with the added pressures of COVID-19 this year?
Our priority in providing the best possible care and support for boarders and their families hasn’t changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. But we have been challenged to find alternate ways to offer that support. Our houseparents, who live in the boarding house with their families, and who are also teachers in the school, and day parents play a pivotal role in the care of our boarding students and families. For students who can’t be here in person due to travel restrictions, we continue to offer support for their socio-emotional wellbeing and academic development using online tools.
What are some elements that make for a successful boarding experience?
Our boarding programme prepares young people for university life and beyond. It’s a genuine pre-university residential experience; individual students have opportunities to test the key skills of independence and self management in the “outside” world while still living in a nurturing community.
What do the students like most about boarding?
Undoubtedly, the lifelong friendships and relationships they form with peers and adults from an extraordinary range of backgrounds. There’s a special bond created by living in this kind of community; each boarder is definitively moulded by the experience. The sense of community and support is also very strong; our boarders keep in touch with us and each other for many years after they leave.
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2020 issue of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe now so you never miss an issue.