In September 1904, Tan Jiak Kim led a group of representatives of the Chinese and other non-European communities, and petitioned the Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir John Anderson, to establish a medical school in Singapore. Tan, who was the first president of the Straits Chinese British Association, managed to raise 87,077 Straits dollars, of which the largest amount of $12,000 came from himself. On 3 July 1905, the medical school was founded, and was known as the Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School.
In 1912, the medical school received an endowment of $120,000 from the King Edward VII Memorial Fund, started by Lim Boon Keng. Subsequently, on 18 November 1913, the name of the school was changed to the King Edward VII Medical School. In 1921, it was again changed to the King Edward VII College of Medicine to reflect its academic status.
In 1928, Raffles College was established to promote arts and social sciences at tertiary level for Malayan students.
Two decades later, Raffles College was merged with the King Edward VII College of Medicine to form the University of Malaya on 8 October 1949. The two institutions were merged to provide for the higher education needs of the Federation of Malaya and Singapore.
The growth of UM was very rapid during the first decade of its establishment and resulted in the setting up of two autonomous divisions in 1959, one located in Singapore and the other in Kuala Lumpur.
In 1960, the governments of then Federation of Malaya and Singapore indicated their desire to change the status of the divisions into that of a national university. Legislation was passed in 1961 establishing the former Kuala Lumpur division as the University of Malaya while the Singapore division was renamed the University of Singapore on 1 January 1962.
The National University of Singapore was formed with the merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University in 1980. This was done in part due to the government's desire to pool the two institutions' resources into a single, stronger entity, and promote English as Singapore's main language of education. The original crest of Nanyang University with three intertwined rings was incorporated into the new coat-of-arms of NUS.
NUS began its entrepreneurial education endeavours in the 1980s, with the setting up of the Centre for Management of Innovation and Technopreneurship in 1988. In 2001, this was renamed the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre (NEC), and became a division of NUS Enterprise. NEC is currently headed by Professor Wong Poh Kam and its activities are organised into 4 areas, including a business incubator, experiential education, entrepreneurship development, and entrepreneurship research.
Today, the National University of Singapore has 16 faculties and schools across three campus locations in Singapore – Kent Ridge, Bukit Timah and Outram – and provides a broad-based curriculum underscored by multi-disciplinary courses and cross-faculty enrichment.
NUS has a semester-based modular system for conducting courses. It adopts features of the British system, such as small group teaching (tutorials) and the American system (course credits). Students may transfer between courses within their first two semesters, enrol in cross-faculty modules or take up electives from different faculties (compulsory for most degrees). Other cross-disciplinary initiatives study programmes include double-degree undergraduate degrees in Arts & Social Sciences and Engineering; Arts & Social Sciences and Law; Business and Engineering; and Business and Law. NUS has 16 faculties and schools, including a Music Conservatory.
NUS has been ranked among the best in the Asia by two international ranking systems, the QS World University Rankings and the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
The QS World University Rankings 2016–17 ranked NUS 12th in the world and 1st in Asia, while the independent QS Asian University Rankings 2015 also considered it to be the first. The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016–17 placed NUS at 24th in the world and 1st in Asia, while its 2015–16 reputation rankings placed it at 24th globally. Also, the ARWU rankings which emphasizes research in the natural sciences as well as staff or alumni winning the Nobel Prizes and Fields Medal, placed NUS in 83th place worldwide and the best in Singapore in 2016.
In 2015, The Economist ranked NUS Business School as 87th globally and 2nd in Singapore, behind Nanyang Business School. In 2015, the Financial Times placed the NUS MBA at 31st in their global MBA ranking tables.
FASS majors is organised into three divisions – Asian Studies, Humanities, and Social Sciences – under which 15 departments and programmes are grouped. It is also home to the Office of Programmes which offers four multidisciplinary programmes and five minor Programmes of study, and the Centre for Language Studies which teaches 12 different languages.
NUS Business School was founded as the Department of Business Administration in 1965. It has six departments: Accounting, Strategy and Policy, Decision Sciences, Finance, Management and Organisation, and Marketing.
Graduate programmes offered include the Master of Business Administration (MBA), NUS MBA Double Degree (conducted jointly with Peking University), UCLA-NUS Executive MBA Programme, Asia-Pacific Executive MBA (English and Chinese), S3 Asia MBA (conducted jointly with Fudan University and Korea University).
The School of Computing (SoC), established in 1998, has two departments – Computer Science and Information Systems. The department of Computer Science offers three undergraduate degree programmes – Computer Science, Information Systems, and Computational Biology.
The Faculty of Dentistry had its early beginnings in 1929 as a Department of Dentistry within the King Edward VII College of Medicine. It was the first dental school to be established in a British colony in the east. The faculty conducts a four-year dental course leading to the Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) degree. The undergraduate programme comprises two pre-clinical (first two years) and two clinical years. The Faculty of Dentistry is organised into 3 academic departments covering the disciplines of Oral, and Maxillofacial Surgery, Preventive Dentistry and Restorative Dentistry.
The School of Design and Environment (SDE) comprises three departments: Architecture, Building and Real Estate and a Division of Industrial Design. Degree courses in building and estate management were first offered in 1969 in the then Department of Building and Estate Management. This was subsequently changed to the School of Building and Real Estate. In June 2000, the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Real Estate changed its name to the School of Design & Environment. As a result of this change, Building and Real Estate were established as separate departments. QS world university rankings list its architecture school as 1st in Asia and 6th in the world.
The Faculty of Engineering (FOE) was launched in 1968. It is the largest faculty in the university. FOE consists of several divisions/departments. These divisions/departments are: Bioengineering; Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering; Civil & Environmental Engineering; Electrical & Computer Engineering; Engineering Science Programme; Industrial & Systems Engineering; Materials Science & Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Division of Engineering and Technology Management.
The law school was first established as a Department of Law in the then University of Malaya in 1956. The first law students were admitted to the Bukit Timah campus of the university the following year. In 1977, the faculty shifted to the Kent Ridge campus, but in 2006 it relocated back to the Bukit Timah site.
Apart from the traditional LLB which runs for four years, the law school also offers double honours degrees in Business Administration & Law, Economics & Law, Law & Life Sciences, and a concurrent degree programme in Law & Public Policy. For graduate students, the law school offers coursework LLM specialisations in areas such as Corporate and Financial Services Law, Intellectual Property & Technology Law, International & Comparative Law, Maritime Law and Asian Legal Studies.
The Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine was first established as the Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School in 1905. The School comprises departments such as the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies, Anaesthesia, Anatomy, Biochemistry, Diagnostic Radiology, Epidemiology and Public Health, Medicine, Microbiology, Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Ophthalmology, Orthopaedic Surgery, Otolaryngology, Paediatrics, Pathology, Pharmacology, Physiology, Psychological Medicine, and Surgery. The School uses the British undergraduate medical system, offering a full-time undergraduate programme leading to the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS). For Nursing, the Bachelor of Science (Nursing) (conducted by the Alice Lee Centre for Nursing Studies) is offered. The department also offers post graduate Master of Nursing, Master of Science (Nursing) and Doctor of Philosophy programmes.
The Duke–NUS Medical School is a collaboration between Duke University in North Carolina, United States and the National University of Singapore. It follows the American model of post-baccalaureate medical education. Students begin their medical studies after earning a bachelor's degree. In this way, Duke–NUS is able to offer an opportunity for students with the potential to excel in the field of medicine and biomedical sciences.
The Faculty of Science (FOS) comprises the departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry, Mathematics, Pharmacy, Physics and Statistics and Applied Probability. The first female Dean of the Faculty of Science was Gloria Lim, who was appointed in 1973. She served a four-year term and was reappointed in 1979, but resigned after one year to allow Koh Lip Lin to continue his post. In 1980, NUS merged with Nanyang University, resulting in overlapping posts.
The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy was formally established in 2004 as an autonomous graduate school of the National University of Singapore. Although the School was formally launched in 2004, it inherited NUS' Public Policy Programme, which was established in 1992 in partnership with Harvard University's John F Kennedy School of Government.
NUS Graduate School for Integrative Sciences and Engineering (NGS) was established in 2003. The principal purpose of NGS is "to promote integrative PhD research encompassing both laboratory work and coursework programmes which not only transcend traditional subject boundaries but also provides students with a depth of experience about science and the way it is carried out".
NGS’ PhD programmes are firmly anchored in cross-disciplinary research. It offers a spectrum of research areas, spanning science, engineering, related aspects of medicine, and interactive & digital media. NGS also offers the following PhD degree programmes. • Joint NUS-Imperial College Phd Programme • NUS PhD-MBA
The Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YSTCM) is a collaboration between NUS and the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. Singapore's first conservatory of music, YSTCM was founded as the Singapore Conservatory of Music in 2001. The School was renamed Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in recognition of a gift from the family of the late Dr Yong Loo Lin in memory of his daughter.
The NUS University Town (UTown) opened in August 2011. Located across the NUS Kent Ridge campus; this is where some 2,400 undergraduate students, 1,700 graduate students and 1,000 researchers will work, live, and learn in close proximity. There are four residential colleges, Cinnamon and Tembusu Colleges, College of Alice and Peter Tan, and Residential College 4 – initially named Cinnamon, Tembusu, Angsana and Khaya – an Education Resource Centre and a Graduate Residence.
Cinnamon College houses the University Scholars Programme. Around 620 students live in the USP residential college; it contains the administrative and faculty offices for USP as well as teaching classrooms.
USP students take modules at the college and follow the current USP curriculum. They are required to take eight multidisciplinary modules specially designed for USP students, including the Writing and Critical Thinking, Quantitative Reasoning Foundation, and the University Scholars Seminar. Students have various options to fulfil their USP advanced curriculum requirements that include individual research with faculty mentors, and industrial and entrepreneurial attachments.
Tembusu College is one of the first two Residential Colleges in University Town, a new extension to the main NUS campus at Kent Ridge. Tembusu houses mainly undergraduates, in addition to resident faculty, distinguished visiting scholars, and a few graduate fellows.
The College offers five multi-disciplinary modules fulfilling the "University-Level Requirements" (2 General Education modules, 2 Breadth modules, and 1 Singapore Studies module) which most NUS undergraduates must read to graduate. Students read the rest of their modules in their home faculties. A University Town Residential Programme Certificate is issued to eligible students along with the regular degree scroll. Students from non-modular faculties (i.e. Law, Medicine, and Dentistry) also belong to the College, but with course-work tailored to their specific programmes. The Rector of Tembusu College is Singapore's Ambassador-at-Large and former U.N. Ambassador Prof. Tommy Koh, who is also the former Dean of the NUS Faculty of Law.
NUS has a variety of teaching centres including:Centre for Development of Teaching and Learning (CDTL), which is the NUS academic development unit and in that capacity seeks to support teaching so as to improve student learning
Centre for Instructional Technology (CIT), which provides for the exploration, development and application of digital and audio-visual technologies to support and enhance teaching and learning. This is done through the NUS-developed Integrated Virtual Learning Environment and by developing new applications/services and incorporating multimedia content in courses for academia.
Centre for English Language Communication (CELC)
Institute of Systems Science (ISS), which offers professional information technology continuing education to managers and IT practitioners.
NUS High School of Mathematics and Science is a school specialising in math and science, and provides secondary and pre-tertiary education to many students with an inclination to these fields.
Among the major research focuses at NUS are biomedical and life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, nanoscience and nanotechnology, materials science and engineering, infocommunication and infotechnology, humanities and social sciences, and defence-related research.
One of several niche research areas of strategic importance to Singapore being undertaken at NUS is bioengineering. Initiatives in this area include bioimaging, tissue engineering and tissue modulation. Another new field which holds much promise is nanoscience and nanotechnology. Apart from higher-performance but lower-maintenance materials for manufacturing, defence, transportation, space and environmental applications, this field also heralds the development of accelerated biotechnical applications in medicine, health care and agriculture.
Currently, NUS hosts 21 university-level research institutes and centres in various fields such as research on Asia, risk management, logistics, engineering sciences, mathematical sciences, biomedical and life sciences, nanotechnology to marine studies. Besides that, NUS also hosts three Research Centres of Excellence which are the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore, Centre for Quantum Technologies and Mechanobiology Institute, Singapore – a partner in Singapore's fifth Research Centre of Excellence (RCE). Besides University-level RICs, NUS also has close affiliation with many National Research Centres / Institutes. A special mention is required for the Logistics Institute – Asia Pacific which is a collaborative effort between NUS and the Georgia Institute of Technology for research and education programmes in logistics.
Comparative Medicine is set up to provide professional and technical service for laboratory animal care, veterinary medical services, and animal research project support for NUS staff and students.
National University Medical Institutes focuses its efforts on the development of centralised research facilities and services for the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in NUS and developing research programmes in cancer and cardiovascular diseases.
NUS began its entrepreneurial education endeavours in the 1980s, with the setting up of the Centre for Management of Innovation and Technopreneurship in 1988. In 2001, this was renamed the NUS Entrepreneurship Centre (NEC), and became a division of NUS Enterprise. NUS Enterprise is the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS). Its activities are organised into 4 areas, including a business incubator, entrepreneurial education, entrepreneurship outreach, and technology commercialisation.
The NUS Overseas Colleges (NOC) programme was started in 2001, giving students the opportunity to experience, live, work and study in an entrepreneurial hub. Participants of the programme either spend 6 months or a year overseas, taking courses at partner Universities and working in startups.
The NUS Industry Liaison Office (ILO) is a part of NUS Enterprise. It manages the University’s technology transfer and promotes research collaborations with industry and partners. ILO manages NUS intellectual property, commercialises its intellectual assets and facilitates the spinning off of technologies into start-up companies.
Yale-NUS, also known as Yale NUS College, is a liberal arts college in Singapore which opened in August 2013, as a joint project of Yale University, and the National University of Singapore. It exists as an autonomous college within NUS, allowing it greater freedom to develop its own policies while tapping on the existing facilities and resources of the main university. Students who graduate receive a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) or a Bachelor of Science (Honours) degree from Yale-NUS College awarded by NUS.
Pericles Lewis, a former professor at Yale, was appointed as the founding president in 2012.
There are about 6,000 residential places distributed between Halls of Residence and Student Residences on campus. There is a free Internal Shuttle Bus Service that plies the entire campus seven days a week.
NUS has 6 Halls of Residence with about 3,000 residential places.
The six Halls of Residence are:Eusoff Hall (345 single rooms; 70 double rooms)
Kent Ridge Hall (507 single)
King Edward VII Hall (350 single; 60 double)
Raffles Hall (213 single; 128 double)
Sheares Hall (509 single)
Temasek Hall (345 single; 70 double)
NUS also has 3 Student Residences for undergraduate students with clusters of 11 to 15 single rooms with their own kitchen and bathroom facilities. Kitchen and dining areas are equipped with basic cooking appliances. The newly built university town houses Graduate Residence for graduate students with the option of both apartments and single rooms.
The 3 Student Residences are:Kuok Foundation House
Prince George's Park Residences
Ridge View Residences
The following table is a list of the principal officers of the National University of Singapore's predecessors. Note that the office of the President of Raffles College was renamed Principal of Raffles College from 1938
Since its inception in 1905, NUS has had many distinguished alumni, including 4 Singaporean Prime Ministers and presidents, 2 Malaysian Prime Ministers, politicians, judiciaries, business executives, educators and local celebrities. It counts among its graduates heads of states Abdul Razak Hussein, Benjamin Sheares, Goh Chok Tong, Lee Kuan Yew, Mahathir Mohamad and S.R. Nathan. A number of its graduates are also notable politicians. Rais Yatim was Malaysia's Minister for Information, Communications and Culture. Ng Eng Hen is Singapore's current Minister of Defense.
Business leaders such as CEO of the Singapore Exchange and Singapore Tourism Board Chew Choon Seng, CEO of the Hyflux group Olivia Lum, CEO of the Temasek Holdings Ho Ching, CEO of SPRING Singapore Philip Yeo and CEO of Razer Inc Min-Liang Tan.
In international politics, the school has produced the Director General of World Health Organisation Margaret Chan, former Presidents of United Nations Security Council, Kishore Mahbubani and S Jayakumar and Vice-President of the International Olympic Committee, Ng Ser Miang.
In Singapore's legal sector, NUS served as Singapore's only law school for half a century, until SMU was set up in 2007. Therefore, most of Singapore's judiciaries come from the school. This includes Singapore's Minister for Law and for Home Affairs and former Minister for Foreign Affairs, K. Shanmugam, the fourth Chief Justice of Singapore, Sundaresh Menon and the third Chief Justice of Singapore, Chan Sek Keong.
Another notable alumnus in the field of medicine is Dr. Wong Seng Weng. He obtained his basic medical degree from the National University of Singapore (NUS) under the Lim Boon Keng and Tan Siak Kew Scholarships and graduated on the Dean's List for outstanding academic achievement.
In academia, NUS boasts of its current President Tan Chorh Chuan, President Emeritus of Nanyang Technological University, Su Guaning, Former Vice-President of Finance for University of Virginia and Cornell University, Yoke San Reynolds and former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, Wang Gungwu.
Controversies at NUS generally steer clear from the media limelight apart from rare high-profile cases. Some recent cases include the imprisonment of sacked assistant law professor Sundram Peter Soosay for assaulting cabby Sun Chun Hua while drunk, and first-year scholar Peter Huen Kam Fai who was found hanged at the Cinnamon College of UTown campus.
Law professor Tey Tsun Hang was also tried for allegedly giving better grades for sex and was sentenced to five months in jail in June 2013. In February 2014, his verdict was overturned on appeal to the high court and he was acquitted of all charges. Despite this outcome, his attempt to regain his permanent residency status in Singapore failed in December 2014.