NUS Chatbot

Know More about NUS with This Interactive Chatbot

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There are a number of universities in Singapore that offer quality education. Some rank among the best in the world and have thousands of applicants queuing for admission. But many are unable to apply because of a lack of information. Wouldn’t it be helpful if there was a way students could get information about a university easily? The National University of Singapore (NUS) achieved this through its very own chatbot.

What the NUS chatbot is about

The NUS is one of Singapore’s most respected and popular universities. Every year thousands of students apply for admission to the various undergraduate and post graduate programs it offers. Earlier this year, a circular was sent out to students in NUS requesting the need for a chatbot developer. They had to create a chatbot with a smart and intuitive interface, which provided current and future students information about the university. The developer/s who designed the chatbot would be paid $1000.

Two undergraduate students took it upon themselves to create the chatbot for free. Within a day, they had a working prototype ready. Speaks volumes about the progress of chatbot development in Singapore, doesn’t it?

The NUS chatbot was built on Microsoft’s Bot Framework with Language Understanding Intelligent Service (LUIS). It provides prospective students information on admission criteria, admission procedure, modules offered, and common terminology used in and around campus. You can also have some fun by searching for unlisted Easter eggs. So, it isn’t any regular boring old bot.

How it works

First, access the bot by following the link The interface is on the right. You can initiate the chat by typing a simple ‘Hi’ or ‘Hello’. If you feel pleasantries are too much for a bot, open with a question. The chatbot will give you a list of 6 options to choose from. When you type any of these options, the chatbot will provide the corresponding answer or provide a link to a page where you can find the answer.

The pros

  • The NUS chatbot is built mainly for prospective students who want to join NUS. But, it serves anyone interested in learning more about the university.
  • It is remarkably functional for a chatbot that was built in a short amount of time. It understands basic questions and commands without replying in the negative.
  • The overall tone of the chatbot is friendly and warm.
  • If your query is still unanswered after multiple tries or the bot simply doesn’t understand what you are saying, it suggests human assistance. This is a much better solution than having the bot repeat the same message like a broken record.

The cons

  • The design of the chatbot is too simple. Its UI leaves a lot to be desired. Simplicity is, no doubt, an asset in web development, but a little jazz never hurt anyone.
  • The page consists of a screenshot of the email circular and the chatbot interface next to each other with the comments section below. The bot page looks cluttered even though there are few elements on it.
  • You have to be specific with your questions; else the chatbot will not be able to help you. It doesn’t look like it can answer queries other than those it lists.

Final thoughts

For a chatbot that was built in less than 24 hours, it does serve its intended purpose. It provides ample information about the university and its offerings and directs you to relevant pages on the university’s site for more information. If you are a student looking to join NUS or an NUS student wanting to know what’s happening at the university, this chatbot is designed for you.

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