New ‘Arts For All’ framework at NUS to enhance integration of arts into students’ learning experiences

Students can pursue their artistic aspirations at various levels, including credit-bearing courses that stack towards a Second Major or Minor in performing arts

Undergraduates at the National University of Singapore (NUS) will have more opportunities to enrich their learning experiences with artistic pursuits, and students may also choose to further develop their passion, skills and knowledge in various arts disciplines and gain academic recognition as part of their undergraduate studies.

These are new initiatives under the all-encompassing ‘Arts For All’ (AFA) framework, which is developed by the NUS Office of Student Affairs Centre for the Arts (OSA CFA) to further augment the University’s ongoing efforts to enhance experiential and interdisciplinary learning through greater participation in the arts. AFA has been piloted since August 2023 and will be progressively implemented where one of the highlights will be the launch of the Second Major or Minor in Performing Arts in the new academic year starting in August 2024.

Associate Professor Chan Tze Law, NUS Vice Dean of Students who oversees CFA, said, “Creative and performing groups have long been a part of the NUS experience, going back all the way to the 1940s. Many student interest groups have evolved into structured programmes and developed artists and creative leaders over the years. This new framework will further encourage students to explore learning in the creative space at a pace and level of involvement that suits their individual learning needs, with further avenues to gain academic recognition for their time and effort in honing their skills.”

‘Arts For All’ at NUS

The AFA framework aims to enhance the student life experience at NUS, as well as support and encourage greater participation in the arts, which is an integral component of the University’s push for interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

Designed based on the principles of collaboration and outreach, AFA provides a diverse range of artistic learning opportunities under four categories to enable students to experience the arts in a manner best suited to their developmental objectives, interests, and levels of commitment.

Under the AFA framework, foundational or exploratory learning opportunities are offered to bring arts-related activities to a wider spectrum of students. These include ground-up and student-led community initiatives as well as participation in various student arts groups on campus. For those who wish to deepen their artistic practice in a structured academic setting, credit-bearing performing arts groups are offered for students to further their practice-based skills in a variety of performing art forms that interconnect with other disciplines.

Please refer to Annexe 1 for more information on the AFA framework.

New academic pathway leading to a Second Major or Minor in Performing Arts

A significant development following the introduction of the AFA framework is the opportunity for NUS students to, for the first time, earn academic credits (or ‘units’), for their participation in selected performing arts groups via the new Performing Arts in Practice courses administered through the NUS Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music (YST).

The academic credits earned for these year-long courses can go towards fulfilling elective requirements of a student’s undergraduate education or be stacked towards a Minor or Second Major in Performing Arts.

Assoc Prof Chan, who is also Vice Dean (Career Orientation & Community Engagement) of YST, said, “This new pathway towards a Second Major or even a Minor in Performing Arts is especially tailored for students who wish to develop their artistic talents in the academic setting, and receive academic credits for their involvement in the arts. The flexibility of earning a Second Major or a Minor in Performing Arts will greatly benefit students who wish to pursue careers that emphasise creativity after graduation, and also reflect their artistic commitment during their undergraduate studies.”

Currently, four out of 32 performing arts groups recognised by OSA CFA have met the criteria for credit-bearing Performing Arts in Practice courses. These are: NUS Chinese Dance, NUS Chinese Orchestra, NUS Symphony Orchestra and NUS Wind Symphony. There are currently about 160 students enrolled in these credit-bearing courses.

The University is looking to expand the number of credit-bearing arts groups, and plans are in place to recognise individual arts involvement beyond official NUS student groups in the coming years.

Mr Huang Chao Hung, a second-year Data Science student from the Faculty of Science and President of NUS Chinese Orchestra, said, “Credit-bearing arts groups will enable students to explore our passion and receive recognition for our hard work. Besides being an avenue for us to enjoy our artform, the structured curriculum provides valuable opportunities for us to gain a variety of experience such as community service, leadership roles, recruitment activities and more."

Students who choose to pursue a Second Major or Minor in Performing Arts are required to take Performing Arts in Practice courses as well as elective courses in areas such as music, dance, communications and new media, and Southeast Asian studies. 

Please refer to Annexe 2 for more information on the Second Major or Minor in Performing Arts.