Have a question about physics? Why not discuss it with Prof Andrew Wee, Dean of NUS’ Faculty of Science, at the Meet the Deans session. Or quiz Mr Guan Ong, head of the investment team at Blue Rice Investment Management, about bond trading at the Master’s Tea session. Want to talk about the evolution of the universe? Drop by the courtyard of the University Scholars Programme (USP) Cinnamon Residential College at NUS’ brand new University Town (UTown) campus in the evening to discuss ‘Big Freeze, Big Rip or Big Crunch’, a part of Random Walks in Science.
UTown is offering a slew of new experiences to NUS students and redefining Singapore’s higher education landscape with its residential colleges and interactive, personalised learning environment.
The aim of UTown is to enable students and professors from different disciplines to interact inside and outside the classroom; nurture students who are able to think critically; and foster a strong sense of community on campus. And it’s off to a flying start with a full roster of events, workshops, lectures and sharing sessions.
Set around UTown’s Town Green are the two residential colleges, a graduate residence, the Education Resource Centre (ERC), featuring seminar rooms, computer labs and study spaces, and cutting-edge research facilities at CREATE (Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise).
UTown’s impressive infrastructure has been made possible by generous support from the government. But, as NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan said in a recent speech, “It will be the software and special programmes that will make the greatest impact on our students and community. In this regard, NUS is indebted to our donors who have made gifts of S$40 million to date.”
Private support, from individuals and companies, plays a critical role in the educational experience that the opening of UTown is offering NUS students, from small class sizes and informal learning environments to specially tailored academic programmes and financial aid. For instance, Ngee Ann Kongsi has made a gift of S$15 million to fund scholarships, bursaries and distinguished professorships while NUS Chairman Mr Wong Ngit Liong and the NUS Board of Trustees (2009-2010) kickstarted the fundraising effort for UTown, collectively raising S$2.3 million to date. To recognise UTown donors of S$1M and above, the UTown’s Founding Benefactors group was created. A donor wall for UTown’s Founding Benefactors will be erected at the ERC in 2012.
Dexter Tan, a Third Year Communications and New Media student, has moved into UTown’s Tembusu College. He says, “The academic programme is a breath of fresh air. For example, I attend a junior seminar where I study images, but with reference to a range of subjects, like philosophy, science and maths. As a media design enthusiast, this is refreshing and pushes the boundaries of understanding. And I also get to live and learn with and get to know students from different backgrounds and disciplines.”
Professor John Richardson, Director, USP, and Master, USP Residential College (Cinnamon), says, “To me, one of the special experiences at UTown is the informal, chance meetings that take place as students make their way around campus. From my office window, I see students bumping into professors, sitting with them, talking to them. That is invaluable.”
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