Following a 26-year high inflation on rising oil and food costs, the prices of the majority of canteen dishes have undergone a hike from a minimum of 5 cents to a maximum of 30 cents - a first in almost a decade.
For example, the vegetarian Kway Chap sold at the Techno Edge canteen at the Faculty of Engineering will now set you back by $1.80, from the previous price of $1.50, while a cup of fresh fruit juice sold at the The Deck canteen at the Faculty of arts and social sciences is 10 cents more expensive.
Ayub bin Ali, operator for the Muslim cooked food stall in the Frontier canteen in the Faculty of Science, said this is the first price hike in his six years of business.
Seton Lin, operator for the engineering canteen’s drinks and snacks stall, said as far as he knows “the last price hike was 11 years ago.”
Lin said, “We may have to wait another 11 years for the next increase.”
The move, standardised across all campus canteens, was implemented by the NUS Office of Estate and Development two weeks before the start of the new semester.
While students feel the pinch, stall vendors said the soaring material costs have left them with little choice.
“If there’s no need to increase, we wouldn’t increase. But the price of everything has increased so much. For some items, like my sandwiches, the price hike is not even enough to cover the item cost,” said Lin.
A check by The Observer found prices in almost every other category in NUS have risen as well. The price of comic book rentals has increased by up to 50 cents, while hostel rates have increased by $15 for a single room per week.
However, while some lament the hole burnt in their pockets, most students interviewed were surprisingly accepting of the price hikes.
“I think (the price hike) is pretty fair, because everything is more expensive now. The food store sellers also need more money to survive. I’ll still eat in the canteen. At the most, to save money, I’ll bring my own drink and not buy drinks from the canteen,” said Trigunadi Widjaja, a fourth-year mechanical engineering major.
The NUS Students' Union has not received any complaints on this matter from the student body.
On the bright side, not all costs have skyrocketed.
Francis Sim, vendor of the temporary finger foods stall operating at the Central Forum, has decided against raising prices, reasoning that lower prices would give students an added incentive to buy his finger foods.
In addition, laser printing services in the NUS libraries are cheaper now, having dropped from 5 to 4.5 cents per page – a decision made by the vendor in order to standardize printing prices across the campus.