NTU Singapore employees donate over S$10 million worth of unused vacation leave in aid of students
New Delhi: More than 1,800 faculty and staff at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) are donating $10.25 million worth of their unutilised annual leave to the University towards student aid and endowments.
Among the 1,821 employees who donated, on average, each employee donated 11 days’ leave while the highest donation was 15 days. Collectively, these employees gave 20,145 days of their unutilised annual leave.
NTU’s Leave Redemption and Donation Exercise is a new initiative that allows employees to put their unused leave towards a good cause. As part of the opt-in exercise, all NTU employees were given the option to voluntarily redeem their unutilised earned annual leave value, based on each individual’s salary rates, for donation to an NTU fund of their choice.
The donations are part of the University’s annual Faculty and Staff Giving initiative where employees can lend their support to the University’s programmes, and student success and advancement.
Ms Tan Aik Na, NTU Senior Vice President (Administration), said, “The employee donations show how much the OneNTU community is invested in the success and well-being of our students. Everyone has been impacted by COVID-19, but some have been hit harder than others. Some of our students’ parents have lost their jobs or have had their income reduced. So, it is doubly important during the pandemic for us to rally our support as OneNTU to help these students.”
Employees may choose to contribute to the University’s bursaries, general endowment, education and student life fund, or 18 other School or Centre Advancement Funds that support student projects and club activities such as seminars, and new research initiatives.
Among the employees who gave 15 days’ worth of personal leave was Associate Professor Ivy Kwan, Assistant Dean for Career Services at NTU’s Nanyang Business School (NBS), who channelled her gift to the NBS Student Aid Fund. The NBS Student Aid Fund, which provides direct financial support to NBS students experiencing hardship, was created by the School’s faculty members in the middle of this year, and complements other existing forms of assistance, such as bursaries and study loans.
Associate Professor Kwan said, “I really wanted to give back to NTU and NBS, which is my alma mater. This is a perfect opportunity that allows me to help out in whatever way I possibly can. I have benefitted from an education here, and I would like others to be able to benefit from an education at NBS too. I teach at NBS and this is my little way of investing in the future of my students. I would definitely do it again in the future!”
Dr Babu Narayanswamy, a materials scientist and director at the Nanyang Environment and Water Research Institute, gave 14 vacation days in cash value to the School of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering (SCBE) Advancement Fund.
Dr Narayanswamy said, “I consider myself one of the fortunate ones to have a job that has not been adversely impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. I know there are families that are hurting and need help because of the pandemic’s effects on the economy. While the Government has been doing all it can, I believe this is the time for those of us who can, to pitch in and help in whatever way possible. Next year, I plan to donate my annual leave too.”
Mr Tan Suan Hai, a senior laboratory executive from NTU’s School of Computer Science and Engineering (SCSE), was motivated to give back 15 days of his personal leave to his school’s Advancement Fund. Mr Tan said, “I have always believed in the value of education, and the importance of students’ success. As I am unable to go on vacation this year, I felt I could turn this into something good and give back to my school and the students who need the most help.”
The strong response to the employee leave donation exercise follows the success of the NTU Priorities Fund launched earlier this year, as part of the University’s COVID-19 relief package.
Launched in April, Professor Suresh and his wife Mary seeded the NTU Priorities Fund with a personal gift of S$100,000 to help students with no other recourse for financial support amid the COVID-19 crisis. The Fund has since grown to S$1.7 million in size due to the generosity of 1,600 other donors.
In addition, NTU established a new S$2 million OneNTU Fund earlier this year, to support students who need immediate assistance due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Eligible students may get an interest-free advance of up to S$1,500, which they will reimburse to the University within two years after graduation.
In total, about 1,170 students received aid amounting to S$1.6 million and ranging between S$500 and S$3,000 per person, as part of NTU’s COVID-19 relief package to date.
On average, NTU employees get between 21 and 42 days of annual leave depending on their employment scheme and length of service. Another round of the opt-in leave donation exercise will be held in October 2021.