In this article, we’re going to give a brief overview of the autonomous tertiary education options available in Singapore! We’ll do our best to share about them by ranking and other aspects.
Do note that rankings should only serve as a guide, and cannot represent a university fully. Look at their course syllabi, teaching modes, and environment before making your decision.
Autonomous Universities in Singapore
Our publicly funded universities offer a variety of academic, research, and student-life options to fit a wide array of situations, interests, and learning styles both within and outside of the classroom.
As you know, Singapore currently has six autonomous universities! They are:
- Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
- National University of Singapore (NSU)
- Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)
- Singapore Management University (SMU)
- Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS)
- Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)
A description of each along with their globally-recognized higher education rankings are given below (in no particular order):
1) Nanyang Technological University (NTU)
NTU is a research-based university comprising five colleges that cover a broad range of subjects including business, science, technology, engineering, medicine, humanities, arts, and social sciences.
NTU currently has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students enrolled in its programs.
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Awards & Rankings
Nanyang Technological University is almost always ranked as one of the top universities in global education indices.
According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, NTU has secured the following rankings in recent years:
- 46th World University Ranking (2022)
- 51-60th World Reputation Ranking (2020)
- 1st Young University Ranking (2021)
NTU also ranks 12th in the QS World University Rankings 2022. Among its other accolades, NTU also houses world-renowned institutes including the National Institute of Education, Earth Observatory of Singapore, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute, Energy Research Institute (NTU), and the Singapore Center for Environmental Life Sciences.
The Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), a collaboration with the Imperial College of London, is another institute to watch.
2) National University of Singapore (NUS)
The National University of Singapore is spread over three separate campuses, comprising 17 different schools and faculties.
Some of its more prestigious programs are collaborations with top global universities including Duke Medical School, Yale University, and John Hopkins University.
NTU has by far the largest student population among all of the universities on this list due to its many global collaborations.
Awards & Rankings
As one of the top universities in Asia, NUS focuses on both global and Asian perspectives in the areas of education and research.
Its global and Asian rankings are as follow:
- 21th World University Ranking 2022 (Times)
- 24th World Reputation Ranking 2020 (Times)
- 3rd Asia University Ranking 2020 (Times)
- Top 11th University (QS World University Ranking 2022)
The university has many global programs including entrepreneurial internships, student exchanges, and double, joint, and concurrent degree programs with some of the best universities across the globe.
Its educational, entrepreneurial, and research-based approach allows it to work closely with academia, industry, and government institutions to address and offer solutions to some of the most critical issues facing Asia and the world today, namely those affecting energy, environment, and urban sustainability.
3) Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT)
Singapore’s fifth autonomous university was incorporated in 2009. As a technical educational institution, SIT’s main focus is on science and technology and imparting the needed skills to worthy students looking to obtain positions in those fields.
SIT includes compulsory work-study programmes in all of their degree programs which range anywhere from 6-12 months in duration.
All of SIT’s Work-Study Programmes are taken during the course of a student’s studies and each one has been developed to produce the relevant skills required by the chosen degree and specialization the student has opted for—on-the-job training while still in school!
Awards & Rankings
Despite its smaller size (2,000-3,000 students) and its primary focus limited to science and technology subjects, the Singapore Institute of Technology has managed to grow quickly.
SIT’s commitment to imparting practical, real-world knowledge and skills to talented individuals with excellent academic records no matter their background or financial situation can be seen in their various scholarship and loan programs which cover tuition fees, emergency fees, post-secondary education costs, and many more expenses associated with higher learning.
The university has recently (2020) announced that they have broadened their degree programs and are now offering further technological and non-tech classes in the areas of Digital Communications, Integrated Media, and Speech & Language Therapy to meet the current demands of Singapore’s Smart Nation vision.
4) Singapore Management University (SMU)
As its name implies, Singapore Management University focuses most of its efforts on the areas of business and management.
That doesn’t mean that other areas of studies are not offered within the six schools located at their downtown campus, which also houses the dome-shaped Kwa Geok Choo library!
SMU’s undergraduate programmes include business management, accountancy, economics, law, information systems, computing and law, and social sciences.
The university utilizes a unique learning system that uses a collaborative and interactive approach through the means of seminars and other online academic mediums.
Since SMU’s campus is located in downtown Singapore, it offers a vibrant and holistic student life experience that helps undergrads interact with the local community, city businesses, and other government institutions thus creating important links and references for career advancement.
Awards & Rankings
SMU has been conferred several global university rankings by the US News Education Best Global University Ranking system.
These rankings are as follows:
- 769th Best Global University
- 170th Best Global University in Asia
- 138th Global Computer Science
Singapore Management University offers a unique blending of interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary research programs that are focused on Asian issues that have a worldwide impact on society.
The university has an excellent track record of forming local and global partnerships with international universities and research centres along with local businesses to come up with unique strategies and solutions that help shape the future of businesses across the globe and society at large.
5) Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS)
SUSS’s unique contribution to Singapore and Asian education has been its ability to cater to adult learners, making it one of the top universities in Singapore for undergraduates and working adults.
Singapore University of Social Sciences offers 87 undergraduate courses and graduate programs targeting new learners and adult students.
Many of SUSS’s programs—Human Development, Humanities & Behavioral Sciences, Business, Law, and Science & Technology—can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis to fit fresh students’ and working adults’ time schedules.
The ability to combine new learners and adults with work experience in the same learning environment gives undergrads a unique learning experience not commonly seen in more traditional university settings.
Awards & Rankings
Even though SUSS is the youngest accredited university in Singapore, it has already made a tremendous impact on the higher education system within the country for its ability to merge full-time and part-time students through e-learning and modular programs.
The school has been actively pushing out programmes that meet the demands of today’s society. These include the newly announced Graduate Diploma in Youth Work Programme.
This innovative and flexible teaching structure has given its students the ability to pursue other areas of interest and obtain a harmonious work-school-life balance while gaining the knowledge, competencies, and soft skills needed for career advancement.
6) Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD)
SUTD incorporates and combines an eastern and western academic structure into its architecture and engineering programs.
Singapore University of Technology and Design uses a global multidisciplinary study approach as a result of its many international and local collaborations.
The university has also recently added a design and artificial intelligence discipline—the first of its kind here—to its architecture and engineering programs that provide students with the skills to design products and systems and offer services that address the most common challenges the world faces today.
Awards & Rankings
SUTD is a young university and therefore does not currently have enough graduates to be ranked in global university ranking systems.
However, due to its collaborations with other top universities like Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), University of California, Berkeley, and Zhejiang University, it has managed to secure the following global academic rankings based on subject:
- 38th Best Global Universities Computer Science 2019
- 316th Best Global Universities Engineering 2019
- 582nd Best Global Universities Physics 2019
- 398th Engineering & Technology[i] (QS Rankings by Subject 2021)
- 151-200th Architecture & Built Environment (QS Rankings by Subject 2021)
- 351-400th Computer Science & Information Systems (QS Rankings by Subject 2021)
The university has a couple of unique features that set it apart from the other autonomous universities on this list.
The first one is that students can graduate eight months earlier (3.5-year degree completion period) than students in other Singapore public universities since the beginning of its academic term begins in May instead of September.
The second one is that all of its core disciplines which include Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology are supplemented with humanistic disciplines like social sciences, liberal arts, and humanities. New students usually take these classes within the first three semesters of their studies.
The above six autonomous schools have been designated as some of the best universities in Singapore and have been conferred high rankings in Asia as well for a variety of reasons.
Number one, they offer a host of multidisciplinary disciplines to suit a broad range of interests.
Number two, they have partnered with many world-class universities, research institutions, and global and local businesses to come up with programs and classes that inculcate the most crucial skills needed in today’s job market.
Number three, campuses are clean and green and offer many innovative learning modalities such as e-Learning, internships, exchange programs, and on-the-job skills training in a classroom setting.
If you are interested in attending any one of the Singapore universities mentioned above, feel free to use the resources on our site to access information about their programs, courses, financial aid, and admission process!
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