Get Ready for the Future with the National University of Singapore (NUS)
Here are the facts upfront. The National University of Singapore (NUS) is ranked among the best universities in the world, with Quacquarelli Symonds rating 16 of its programmes in the world’s top ten and another 12 within the top twenty1. The University has attracted S$758.1 million in research funding, and published 10,481 research papers in a year2. Reuters named it one of the Asia Pacific’s Most Innovative Universities3. Its alumni include a number of Chief Executive Officers, founders of notable technology companies, high-ranking United Nations officials, ministers and heads of state, a Pulitzer Prize winner and even a Hollywood actor.
Arguably, all this is impressive for an institution that started out in 1905 as a modest medical school with only 23 students. However, a stellar track record paints only part of the picture for those trying to decide which university to enrol in for further studies. Such prospective students want to know how studying at a particular university will prepare them to build a brighter future for themselves.
Putting aside considerations of what the age of Industry 4.0 may hold, and what geographic location offers the optimal mix of infrastructure, resources and opportunities to achieve success, the key question that one should ask is: "How future-oriented is this university I am interested in?"
A part of the answer lies in who will be teaching and guiding students in their learning journey. The university’s faculty have to be more than subject matter experts; they should be movers and shakers who play an active role in shaping and advancing the field.
The faculty at NUS include not only academics, but also thought leaders and industry professionals, able to share both their experiences of how a field has evolved and also their insights into how it will change and grow.
A great learning environment, supplemented by a host of facilities and information technology resources to optimise learning outcomes, makes up another part of the answer. In this area, NUS also manages a good showing.
University Town, at the Kent Ridge campus, has won multiple design awards and is popular with students. Use of the Internet and eLearning technologies is common in NUS classes, and the University has started looking into emerging technologies (such as augmented, mixed and virtual reality, as well as 3D printing) for learning, teaching and research. The University’s laboratories and research facilities meanwhile are equipped to study and find solutions to real-world issues, so that they can make an actual impact on industry and in people’s lives.
In this day and age, the international aspect is another element to consider when choosing a university. Regardless of ongoing debates about globalisation and multi-polarisation, students still need international connections, exposure and perspectives to achieve success on a wider scale. To provide students with opportunities to develop these traits, NUS hosts a number of global programmes, including partnerships with renowned foreign universities, student exchange programmes, internships and research attachments, as well as the NUS Overseas Colleges programme.
University Town, at the Kent Ridge campus
To further narrow the shortlist, prospective students should also look at whether a university has a strong relationship with industry. Does the university develop programmes and curricula based on insights and feedback provided by industry? Are there university-industry collaborations in education and research? Does the university enjoy a good reputation, when it comes to the employability of its graduates? NUS ticks the “Yes” box in response to all these questions.
One more important factor to look for is the kind of commitment the university makes to its learners. NUS puts in a lot of effort to ensure that learning in the academic setting leads to actual achievement in the professional arena. The University offers its students and graduates support and resources to take the next steps in their career (through such initiatives as the Centre for Future-Ready Graduates and a wide range of lifelong learning programmes) or even launch their own start-ups (via NUS Enterprise).
To tie everything together, evaluate the value proposition offered by the university. Sum up what it will take to earn the degree (not just in monetary terms, but also time, effort and opportunity costs) and weigh this against the potential returns (such as improved skills and knowledge, higher academic qualifications, increased salary, better career advancement and a wider network of connections).
In the end, every individual will make his or her own judgement about which university is best—that is, which university will put him or her in the most advantageous position to achieve excellence in the future. That is the essence of being future-oriented. That said, who would not want to go with the University that is committed to Shaping the Future?
1 The Straits Times, 5 Mar 2021
2 NUS Annual Report 2020
3 Reuters Top 75, Asia Pacific’s Most Innovative Universities 2019
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