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National University of Singapore:
A Brief Chronological History



1823 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.


1902  A commission was appointed to inquire into the system of English education.

1904 September 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 Sepoy Lines.
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.
1910 May The first seven licentiates received their diplomas from the Medical School.
1913 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.
1916 The Licentiate in Medicine and Surgery (LMS) awarded by the Medical School was recognised by the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom.
1918 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 university.
1919 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.
1921 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 until 1949.
1922 The Council of the College first discussed the establishment of a Dental School.
1928 June Raffles College admitted its first batch of students, numbering 23.
1929 July 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 Principal.
1929 The Department of Dental Surgery was created at the King Edward VII College of Medicine.
1938 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.
1941-1945 During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese used the College of Medicine as a serological institute and Raffles College buildings as military headquarters.
1946 King Edward VII College of Medicine and Raffles College reopened.
1947 The Licentiate in Dental Surgery awarded by the King Edward VII College of Medicine was recognised by the General Medical Council of Great Britain.
1947 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.
1949 Legislation was passed in Singapore with regards to the University of Malaya.
1949 October 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 Science.
1953 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.
1955 Nanyang University was established on a 500-acre site in Jurong donated by the Hokkien Huay Kuan, a clan association.
1956 March 15 Nanyang University was formally inaugurated. There were initially three faculties with three department each.
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.
1959 The Nanyang University Ordinance was passed to give statutory basis to the university as an educational institution.
1960 The two Governments indicated that the two divisions of the University of Malaya should become autonomous separate national universities.
1962 Jan 1 The University of Singapore was established.
1968 Full recognition of the Nanyang University degrees was given by the government of Singapore.
1969 A site at Kent Ridge was secured for the new campus of the University of Singapore.
1974 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.
1978 July 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.
1979 October The Dainton Report recommended that Singapore should have a single, strong university.
1980 April 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.
1981 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 Cambridge.
1987 The School of Accountancy was transferred to the Nanyang Tachnological Institute.
1987 The university was the first institution in Asia to develop links with international academic institutions via a computer network called BITNET.
1989 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.
1990 NUS celebrated the tenth anniversary of its establishment. University population stood at 1456 academic staff, 15193 undergraduates and 2342 postgraduates.
1991 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.
1991 Introduction of the smart-card system providing high security and stored-value capabilities and for accessing all major facilities in the university.
1993 June NUS's online catalogue known as LINC (Library INtegrated Catalogue) was made accessible internationally via Internet.
1993 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.
1994 The modular system was extended to the Faculties of Arts & Social Sciences, Engineering, Science, and the School of Building & Estate Management.
1995 NUS celebrated its 90th anniversary since its founding.
1996 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 and inventions.
1997 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.
1998 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.
1999 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.
2000 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.
2000 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.
2000 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 mater.
2001 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.
2001 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.
2002 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.
2003 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 in music.
2003 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 start-up companies.
2003 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.
2003 Asia Research Institute was officially opened to spearhead research in the area of social and cultural change in Asia.
2003 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.
2004 NUS was rated 18th in a new global ranking of universities in the Times Higher Education Supplement by The Times of London.
2004 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.
2004 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.
2005 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.
2005 The National University of Singapore celebrates its Centenary.


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