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National University of Singapore:
A Brief Chronological History
Sir Stamford Raffles proposed the
establishment of an institution in the nature of a college which would
provide education and instruction and also undertake research.
A commission was appointed to inquire into
the system of English education.
A petition, led by the Hon. Tan Jiak Kim,
was addressed to Sir John Anderson, Governor of the Straits Settlements,
for a medical school to be established.
|1905 July 3||
The medical school was started and was
known as the Straits and Federated Malay States Government Medical
School. It had an enrolment of 23 students. The first principal was Dr
G.D. Freer and the first site was the old Female Lunatic Asylum, at
|1905 September 28||
The School was formally opened by Sir John
Anderson, Governor of the Straits Settlements. A course of studies over
5 years was designed to lead to the Final Qualifying Examination of the
School in Medicine, Surgery and Midwifery.
The first seven licentiates received their
diplomas from the Medical School.
The name of the school was changed to King
Edward VII Medical School in recognition of the bequest of $120,000 from
the King Edward VII Memorial Foundation and that the School was founded
during the reign of King Edward VII.
The Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery
(LMS) awarded by the Medical School was recognised by the General
Medical Council of the United Kingdom.
It was recommended that the most suitable
memorial on the centenary of the foundation of Singapore would be a
college for higher education to be known as Raffles College. It was
hoped that this college would form the foundation of a future
A Government committee set up an endowment
fund for Raffles College, with a provision of two million dollars. A
site was also donated by the Straits Settlements government.
The name of the Medical School was changed
to King Edward VII College of Medicine as it was felt that the term
"school" was not adequate in conveying the status of the institution in
providing education of a university standard. This name was retained
The Council of the College first discussed
the establishment of a Dental School.
Raffles College admitted its first batch
of students, numbering 23.
Raffles College was officially opened by
Sir Hugh Clifford, the Governor of the Straits Settlements and High
Commissioner for the Malay States. Richard Winstedt was the first
The Department of Dental Surgery was
created at the King Edward VII College of Medicine.
The McLean Commission which had as its
terms of reference the issue of higher education in Malaya, had
particularly to deal with Raffles College and the possible question of
setting up a university. Its recommendations, however, were shelved due
to the outbreak of World War II.
During the Japanese Occupation, the
Japanese used the College of Medicine as a serological institute and
Raffles College buildings as military headquarters.
King Edward VII College of Medicine and
Raffles College reopened.
The Licentiate in Dental Surgery awarded
by the King Edward VII College of Medicine was recognised by the General
Medical Council of Great Britain.
The Carr-Saunders Commission on University
Education in Malaya recommended that a full-fledged university be
established. A probationary period was not necessary as both Colleges
(King Edward VII College of Medicine and Raffles College) could be
merged to form the university. Owing to the high academic standards of
both colleges, it was recommended that with merger, the institution
could confer full degrees.
Legislation was passed in Singapore with
regards to the University of Malaya.
The University of Malaya was established
with Rt Hon Malcolm MacDonald as Chancellor and Dr G.V. Allen as
Vice-Chancellor. The King Edward VII College of Medicine became the
Faculty of Medicine and Raffles College formed the Faculties of Arts and
Mr. Tan Lark Sye of the Hokkien Huay Kuan
first mooted the idea of establishing a university providing Chinese
education and offered to subscribe three to five million dollars toward
a university fund. A Preparatory Committee was formed and the name
Nanyang University was adopted. The University was incorporated as a
company under the Companies Ordinance.
Nanyang University was established on a
500-acre site in Jurong donated by the Hokkien Huay Kuan, a clan
|1956 March 15||
Nanyang University was formally
inaugurated. There were initially three faculties with three department
|1959 January 15||
Legislation came into effect providing for
a single University with two largely autonomous divisions of equal
status, the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur and the University of
Malaya in Singapore.
The Nanyang University Ordinance was
passed to give statutory basis to the university as an educational
The two Governments indicated that the two
divisions of the University of Malaya should become autonomous separate
|1962 Jan 1||
The University of Singapore was
Full recognition of the Nanyang University
degrees was given by the government of Singapore.
A site at Kent Ridge was secured for the
new campus of the University of Singapore.
A common admissions board was established
by the University of Singapore and Nanyang University to streamline the
admission of students to first degree courses at the two Universities.
To promote closer ties between the two
Universities, a Joint Campus was set up at Bukit Timah. Students of
Arts, Social Sciences, Science, Accountancy and Business Administration
of the two Universities studied the same courses and were examined by
the same internal and external examiners.
The Dainton Report recommended that
Singapore should have a single, strong university.
The government announced that the
University of Singapore and Nanyang University would be merged to form
the National University of Singapore.
|1980 August 8||
The National University of Singapore was
officially established. President Benjamin Sheares was the first
Chancellor. The first Vice-Chancellor was Dr. Tony Tan, the Minister of
Education. University population stood at 817 academic staff, 8634
undergraduates and 444 postgraduates. The University had campuses in two
locations: Kent Ridge and Sepoy Lines.
First convocation ceremonies for graduates
of NUS. Objective was to invite eminent academics and scholars to make
high level contributions to university education and research. The first
Visitor was Dr. Sydney Brenner, a distinguished geneticist from
The School of Accountancy was transferred
to the Nanyang Tachnological Institute.
The university was the first institution
in Asia to develop links with international academic institutions via a
computer network called BITNET.
The Alumni Affairs Office was established
with the primary role of fostering closer links between alumni and the
University. Its name was changed to the Alumni Affairs and Development
Office in 1991 with the expansion of its functions.
NUS celebrated the tenth anniversary of
its establishment. University population stood at 1456 academic staff,
15193 undergraduates and 2342 postgraduates.
Launch of NUSNET - the largest campus
network in the Asia Pacific region. The University was the first in
Singapore and the region to be plugged into Internet. NUS was later
involved in managing TECHNET, the national R&D computer network which
linked the local R&D community to Internet.
Introduction of the smart-card system
providing high security and stored-value capabilities and for accessing
all major facilities in the university.
NUS's online catalogue known as LINC
(Library INtegrated Catalogue) was made accessible internationally via
The semester-based modular system was
introduced, beginning with the Faculty of Business Administration. The
system offers students a wider choice of subjects and allows them to
progress at their own pace.
The modular system was extended to the
Faculties of Arts & Social Sciences, Engineering, Science, and the
School of Building & Estate Management.
NUS celebrated its 90th anniversary since
The university announced the launch of
four spin-off companies under the umbrella of NUS Technology Holdings
Ltd (NUSH). The companies were founded by staff from the Faculties of
Engineering and Science and are based on research results in NUS. NUSH
was launched in 1995 as a commercial arm for university research results
The NUS Bioprocessing Technology Centre
(BTC) Incubator Unit was launched to assist new or expanding
biotechnology companies to develop their business in the region without
having to make huge upfront investments. Fully equipped laboratories
were made available by BTC to conduct their research or test medicinal
drugs or chemical processes.
NUS announced initiatives to create a
global campus under its IT Strategic Plan. Distinctive features of the
plan included a Notebook Ownership Programme for students, a Secure Plug
and Play Environment, distance learning in a virtual classroom, a
digital library, campus-wide smart card transactions and the enhancement
of lecture theatres with multimedia equipment.
In line with the NUS's thrust to become a
technopreneurial hub, the University together with NUS Entrepreneurship
Society and the MIT $50K Entrepreneurship Competition Committee
organised the NUS-MIT $50K Global Start-Up Workshop.
Professor Lim Pin stepped down as
Vice-Chancellor after 19 years of distinguished service. He was
succeeded by Professor Shih Choon Fong who brings to his appointment a
strong vision to propel NUS into becoming the intellectual and
entrepreneurial pulse of Singapore, in the same manner that Stanford
University synergies with the Silicon Valley in the US.
The University Cultural Centre (UCC) was
officially opened by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defence,
Dr Tony Tan. The purpose-built performing arts venue consisting of a
concert hall, a theater, an art gallery, a dance studio and a museum
annex ushered in a new era of cultural renaissance on campus.
NUS held its first graduation ceremonies
on home ground at the newly opened University Cultural Centre. Taking on
a name change to Commencement, the ceremonies signify the graduates' new
ties as alumni rather than the end of their relationship with their alma
NUS signed a milestone agreement with
Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University to
establish the Singapore Universities Student Exchange Programme (SUSEP).
Students participating in the cross-campus exchange program can pursue
modules at a host university and transfer the credits earned to meet
their degree requirements in their enrolled university.
NUS joined fellow member universities of
Universita 21 in a joint venture with Thomson Learning, a global
provider of tailored learning solutions, to address the global demand
for higher education.
NUS assumed leadership of the Association
of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU), a consortium of 35 leading research
universities promoting scientific, educational and cultural
collaboration between members and the economies in the region.
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, an
alliance with the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University,
admitted its first batch of students to its four-year honours programme
Two overseas colleges were set up in the
United States and China. Students at NUS College in Bio Valley and NUS
College in Shanghai attended courses at University of Pennsylvania and
Fudan University respectively while working as interns with nearby
A university-level business incubator
centre, the NUS Enterprise Centre in Silicon Valley (NECSV), was set up
in California to facilitate smooth entry for start-ups venturing into
the United States market.
Asia Research Institute was officially
opened to spearhead research in the area of social and cultural change
Asian Law Institute, a collaboration
between the NUS Faculty of Law and eight other law schools in Asia, was
launched to facilitate research and education to foster better
understanding of legal traditions and cultures in Asia.
NUS was rated 18th in a new global ranking
of universities in the Times Higher Education Supplement by The Times
NUS Business School has been ranked top in
Southeast Asia among business schools with full-time MBA programmes in
the region by regional business magazine Asia Inc.
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy was
set up as an autonomous school for study and research in public policy,
focusing on the study of public policy in Asian societies.
NUS was rated 10th amongst the
world’s top 100 universities in Social Science and in Arts and
Humanities, NUS is ranked 17th amongst the world’s top 50 universities
in the Times Higher Education Supplement.
The National University of Singapore
celebrates its Centenary.