Five student unions from S’pore University form a new network to advocate for youth issues

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SINGAPORE — Five of Singapore’s university student unions have formed a new network to collectively tackle issues affecting undergraduate students here, such as mental health, employability and sustainability.

Known as the Inter-University Network, it includes student union leaders from the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU) and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), as well as Yale-NUS College, which is part of NUS but has its own student union.

The network aims to bring universities together and represent, protect and empower the interests of undergraduates and young people at the national level, the leaders said in a press release Saturday, February 26.

Work to formalize the network in collaboration with the National Youth Council (NYC) began in October last year and was launched on Saturday during the inter-university dialogue at the NTUC Center on One Marina Boulevard.

Singapore University of Social Sciences and Singapore Institute of Technology are not formally involved in the network as they do not have student unions.

However, the network will work with students from both of these universities, starting with its first initiative, UCare, which aims to understand mental health stressors among undergraduates here.

It will work with clubs and university interest groups to review existing support for prevention and intervention for mental health issues, as well as to identify possible gaps in those support systems, the statement said.

NYC Chief Executive David Chua said: “In the spirit of providing opportunities for young people to be heard, to be empowered and to be the change, the inter-university network will provide recommendations to the government on the issues that matter to young people, and NYC will make it easier to interface with government agencies.”

The results will also be shared with university administrations and student leaders. The network will offer recommendations in a written report and present its findings at a mental health forum later this year.

The network also aims to deepen collaboration between student unions and share knowledge on student leadership.

Speaking to the Straits Times after the launch event on Saturday, NUS Students’ Union President Lee Yat Bun, 22, said the network was looking to build on the informal ties that various student unions already share.

SUTD Student Government President Sarah Chua, 23, said the creation of the network has given different student unions a concrete platform to advocate for more causes and actions.

NTU student union president V. Dhanraj, 24, said that in the past, when a student union wanted to push a particular policy, student leaders from other universities would also pick it up.

“This network will allow us to access a combined national platform for problem solving, as our students face very similar issues on topics such as mental health and access to food options on campus.”

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