NUS launches two new colleges to deliver flexible, interdisciplinary education more accessibly, and at greater scale
- The University Scholars Programme and Yale-NUS College will combine to form a new college, bringing together their best and strongest elements to broaden access to interdisciplinary liberal arts education through multiple pathways and specialisations
- The new College of Design and Engineering will offer a new model of interdisciplinary education that leverages the synergy between the two converging fields
The National University of Singapore (NUS) today announced the establishment of two new interdisciplinary colleges: the University Scholars Programme (USP) and the Yale-NUS College (Yale-NUS) will be combined into a single new college, and the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Design and Environment will merge to form the College of Design and Engineering.
The formation of these two colleges is the latest move in NUS’ efforts to transform the educational experience at Singapore’s flagship university, based on four key pillars – common curriculum, greater flexibility, an interdisciplinary approach and lifelong learning.
NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye said, “A world-class university education must evolve quickly to prepare students for a world marked by ever greater volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Graduates need to be highly curious problem-chasers and innovative problem solvers, flexible and adept at connecting the dots across diverse disciplines to succeed in a future of rapid change and unpredictability. The establishment of these two new colleges is part of our roadmap of educational innovations and curricular reforms to keep up with the needs and challenges of the global economy.”
Since 2018, NUS has been introducing educational innovations progressively with the aim of exposing students to the interface and interplay of different disciplines across Humanities, Social Sciences as well as Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
A defining characteristic of the new NUS education framework is enhancing the capability of graduates to be lifelong learners and setting them on the path to be deeply passionate, curious and innovative in solving world problems. The framework emphasises a common curriculum to provide a rigorous, broad-based intellectual foundation that expands the learning capacities of our graduates. Flexible pathways to deepen expertise in a chosen major, or learn multiple competencies through double majors, majors, and minors in other disciplines, allow students to adapt their learning pathway through the University. Interdisciplinary approaches in teaching and learning enhance complex problem-solving, which is reinforced by experiential learning.
A major development reflecting this new education framework is the College of Humanities and Sciences, an enhanced undergraduate experience launched in December 2020. Through this College, students of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science can now access over 700 double major pairings, 1,700 major-minor pairings and more than 100,000 major with double minor combinations across the University, and have greater flexibility to pursue intellectual breadth and depth across disciplines.
With strong public interest and excitement in interdisciplinary education as seen in growing applications to the newly established College of Humanities and Sciences as well as positive reception to the new common curriculum and flexible interdisciplinary learning for students in Engineering as well as Design and Environment, NUS has decided to further expand the scale of interdisciplinary learning by launching the two new colleges.
Bringing together the best features and extensive experience of USP and Yale-NUS, the New College seeks to continue their legacy of world class interdisciplinary liberal arts education. The College will be in a new position of strength and identity to offer broader and more specialised offerings through a deeper integration with NUS. It will address the evolving needs and challenges of the modern world by reimagining interdisciplinary education in a bigger and bolder way through an innovative new common curriculum designed to enhance and complement learning, rigorous intellectual engagement and vibrant residential living.
Building on the success of the Yale-NUS partnership which began in 2011, and the USP which admitted its first intake in 2001, the New College will be open to all students applying for admission to undergraduate degree programmes at NUS. The New College will welcome its first intake of up to 500 students in Academic Year 2022/23. Allowing students the flexibility to build their own learning portfolio and achieve their desired breadth and depth across diverse fields, the New College will offer greater access to multiple pathways and combinations in areas of specialisations. Students will experience the model of immersive and interdisciplinary learning characterised by flexible curriculum, residential living and small group teaching. Graduating students will earn degrees conferred by their respective home school or faculty.
Students of the New College will read a new common curriculum adapted from the best of both the USP and Yale-NUS foundations, enhanced with new STEM elements. The distinctive Yale-NUS common curriculum – covering literature and history, modern social thought, philosophy, quantitative reasoning and scientific inquiry – has been an inspiration for expanding interdisciplinary education and designing a common curriculum across NUS. The USP curriculum has similarly enabled generations of students to make strong connections across disciplines, starting with foundational skills and progressing to a deep dive into big questions and issues in the humanities, social sciences, science and technology to stimulate intellectual discourse.
Keeping the important feature of the USP where students are able to access the full range of majors, second majors, minors and specialisations offered across NUS, and attain their desired disciplinary depth, the students of New College will enjoy the same unparalleled flexibility to acquire new competencies beyond their home school or faculty.
Yale-NUS students who matriculated in Academic Year 2021/22 and who form the graduating Class of 2025, will be the final cohort of students in Yale-NUS. All current Yale-NUS students including the final cohort will continue to enjoy the full Yale-NUS experience and earn the same Yale-NUS degree conferred by NUS as their predecessors. Yale-NUS will remain open and continue running its academic, co-curricular and research programmes until the end of Academic Year 2024/25. Students currently enrolled in the USP will transit into the New College from Academic Year 2022/23.
A New College Planning Committee, chaired by NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua and comprising leaders from USP and Yale-NUS, Yale, as well as NUS, will continue the development of the plan for the New College, and how it will combine the best of USP and Yale-NUS. The planning committee will focus on key areas such as the new common curriculum for the New College, staff matters, transition plans, admissions as well as residential and student life. Faculty from Yale-NUS and USP will be represented on the subcommittee for the common curriculum. This planning committee will also seek ideas and feedback from students, staff, faculty and alumni of both Yale-NUS and USP about the formation of the New College. More updates will be provided in the first quarter of 2022.
Yale President Professor Peter Salovey said, “Yale takes great pride in the accomplishments of Yale-NUS College — a pioneering partnership between two leading universities to create a residentially based liberal arts college… I want to offer my best wishes for the new college and express our gratitude for the generous support of the Government of Singapore in making it possible for us to partner in the creation of a model of liberal arts education that is regarded as one of the most innovative in the world — one whose DNA will live on, we trust, in new and exciting ways.” Please refer to Prof Salovey’s full message here.
“The evolution of USP and Yale-NUS into the New College will offer students the opportunity to benefit from an immersive, interdisciplinary liberal arts education that brings together the best features of both institutions and very importantly expands access to multiple pathways, disciplines and specialisations across the NUS ecosystem. We’re delighted that Yale will continue to play an advisory role in the New College as a pioneering member of its international advisory panel. Yale has been a visionary partner in Yale-NUS College. We look forward to continuing our friendship, and exploring bilateral opportunities in research and education,” said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye. Please refer to Prof Tan’s letters to Yale-NUS community here and to USP community here.
Please refer to Annex A for more information about the New College.
Please read the Yale News here.
College of Design and Engineering
Starting from August 2021, the new cohort of students enrolled in the NUS Faculty of Engineering and NUS School of Design and Environment can seamlessly take courses from both schools to develop competencies across different fields. This cohort of about 1,800 students will start their NUS education by taking a common curriculum, and will also enjoy greater choice, breadth and flexibility in charting their learning journeys.
To further harmonise and integrate the University’s teaching and research capabilities in engineering and design, NUS will be setting up a new College of Design and Engineering (CDE). The CDE was conceptualised by a task force chaired by NUS Senior Deputy President and Provost Professor Ho Teck Hua, and comprising six industry leaders, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering, Dean of the School of Design and Environment, as well as eight academics from the two schools.
The CDE – a fusion of the Faculty of Engineering and School of Design and Environment – is a future-focused, interdisciplinary learning and research institution designed to advance the applications and professions of Engineering, Archtecture and Design. CDE will be home to the 11 departments in the two existing schools.
Prof Ho said, “In the converging fields of engineering and design, professionals must be able to problem-find, ideate, build and realise their ideas into solutions that are practical, functional and appealing. This requires thinking and behaviour that reflect adaptability, empathy, creativity, and resourcefulness.”
He added, “At NUS, we see a great opportunity to bring together two world-class NUS schools – the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Design and Environment – to pioneer a unique model of interdisciplinary undergraduate education that takes advantage of the natural synergies between these fields.”
Professor Aaron Thean, current Dean of NUS Faculty of Engineering, has been appointed the Dean-Designate of CDE. He will lead the merger of the two schools to form the new College, which is expected to be officially launched in November 2021. Students who are currently enrolled in the two schools will seamlessly transit into the new College with effect from 1 January 2022.
Prof Aaron Thean said, “This is a very exciting development and we are encouraged by the positive response from students, employers and professional institutions following the introduction of the forward-looking common curriculum. At CDE, students will have the flexibility to build their own programme based on how broad, deep or integrated they want their education to be. This addresses the increasingly diverse design and engineering professions in Singapore. They will also gain a broad intellectual foundation for lifelong learning and development. Our goal is to nurture a new generation of professional engineers, technologists, architects, designers and built-environment specialists who will have deep domain knowledge, enhanced by a multi-disciplinary background. We hope our students will be well prepared to draw from and collaborate with wide areas of expertise, to solve complex problems.”
Please refer to Annex B for more information about the CDE.