Balestier Students’ Hostel: SME Excellence Business Award & Singapore Consumer Choice Award 2022/2023
Balestier Students’ Hostel has provided students accommodation since 1970. Having being in this industry for fifty-two years, it has accommodated more than thousands of students from different countries, such as China, Malaysia, Indonesia, ASEAN, Korea, Japan, and even the United States. Occasionally, the Ministry of Education will put up their scholars at Balestier Students’ Hostel as well. For many years, because of the fact that there had been few other student hostels, Malaysians who study in local secondary schools would stay at this hostel. In the past, the hostel has also catered to Japanese students who had come to Singapore for the three-month English summer courses as a part of Konohana Gakuin High School students’ exchange program.
Ms. Cynthia Ng, CEO of Balestier Students’ Hostel, has always been passionate about working with children and she has been engaged in education since she graduated from the University. Business Operation Manager, Ms. Cindy Koh, who is passionate about teaching children too, aspires to provide a home away from home for international students who arrive here. She wishes to provide a homely and cosy accommodation for them, as she believes that having a good and conducive environment allows the children to grow up well especially when they are away from their parents and alone in a foreign country.
With multiple Bachelor Degrees and Diplomas under her belt, Ms. Cynthia also has over 15 years of experience in education management and project development. Likewise, Ms. Cindy is a veteran in this industry with over 20 years of experience. To date, she has accompanied more than 1,000 international students from various countries, many of whom she personally saw them through from primary school to university. Furthermore, both Ms. Cynthia and Ms. Cindy are trained in psychology and counselling, they are equipped with the necessary knowledge needed to handle the biological, social and psychological challenges in this industry.
Balestier Student’s Hostel is also proud to announce that under their student welfare department, their academic tutors and subject tutors are all NIE-trained, thus they are all professionals in the education industry and are very familiar with the education syllabus and its requirements.
Besides them, there are also housekeepers, chefs and cleaners to tend to the daily needs of the children staying at the hostel. To further manage the staff and to ensure adequate security, the management has also installed closed circuit television that functions 24-hours daily at all of the entrances and common areas.
Comprising a total of fifty-nine rooms, featuring single rooms, double rooms and quad rooms, we can cater up to 140 students in the hostel. The hostel provides meals three times a day for primary and secondary school students, while the meals are optional for students
pursuing tertiary education. There is also a curfew at 10pm everyday for primary and secondary school students.
Being one of the oldest student hostels in Singapore with an excellent reputation, puts Balestier Students’ Hostel at an advantage as compared to other hostels. It is able to draw in students from different parts of the world solely based on referrals. With fifty-two years of experience, it has progressively improved to create the ideal system to facilitate a better life for students who stay with them.
At Balestier Students’ Hostel, the most common challenges that they face are the students’ behaviours and emotions, especially since the children are in a sensitive and vulnerable age group. In current society, parents are more well-informed, thus they have higher expectations in terms of what they expect for their children.
However, as students these days are exposed to many different types of social media, whatever they see online causes their demeanours and behaviours to change as well. An example is how compliant the students were during the SARS pandemic in 2003; they were much more accommodating when it came to social distancing. However, during the current Covid-19 pandemic, it became apparent that it is tougher to get the students to adhere to social distancing rules. As a provider, Ms. Huang and her team also has to change and adapt to the changes in students’ behaviours.
The business of the hostel has been affected profoundly by Covid-19, as it experienced the lowest enrollment rate in its history due to global travel restrictions in 2020. The team had a hard time deciding their next step, as they had to decide between continuing the business and shutting down the business for the time being. However, Ms. Cynthia believed strongly that the students would eventually return to stay, hence the company decided to use the time to renovate their premises. Ms. Cynthia and her team did many of the tasks themselves to cut costs. To minimize the disturbances to the students staying there and to save on renovation costs, Ms. Cynthia and her team chose to do many of the renovation themselves. They further added a gym corner and cosy library area during the renovations, to keep up with the demands to serve the students better. Even though they had bunk beds prior to Covid-19, all of the beds have been changed to single beds during the renovation. Additional ceiling fans and air conditioners have been added too. Now that business has resumed as per normal, they are able to welcome their students to an upgraded hostel.
To conclude, both Ms. Cynthia and Ms. Cindy advise young entrepreneurs to hone their skills in developing human relations, especially if they are in the business as a service provider. The way you communicate with our clients will also determine how much they trust you, therefore communication is the key.