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NEWS UPDATES 12 October 2010

Discussions to set up liberal arts college in Singapore

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Despite concerns, discussions on setting up Singapore's first liberal arts college are in the final stages.

National University of Singapore (NUS) president, Tan Chorh Chuan, said talks with Yale University are progressing well and a decision can be expected by early next year.

Speaking on the sidelines of the State of the University Address on Monday, he also said the liberal arts college is part of NUS plans for a "bold and highly-strategic investment in education for the future".

NUS says the key focus of the college would be to nurture students' curiosity through a broad-based, multidisciplinary programme. This will cover courses in the hard sciences, mathematics and humanities.

NUS says the full liberal arts education model is found mainly in the United States, either in stand-alone colleges or embedded as undergraduate colleges within research universities like Yale.

But the programme in Singapore may include slight differences.

While students in the US pursue a major, which can make up less than a third of the curriculum, the NUS-Yale programme will include a major for two-thirds or more of the course of study.

The liberal arts education model is new to Asia. And for NUS, it says setting up a new liberal arts college will enable it to take a leadership position in the key form of education for the future, and to attract even more of the brightest students.

But there have been some concerns expressed by some Yale faculty members over academic freedom and freedom of speech in Singapore.

NUS says that while such views have been heard, Yale has also received written and verbal communication from its faculty members to signal enthusiastic support for the Yale-NUS venture.

Professor Tan said: "Maybe what has been less reported....(are) many positive responses that we have obtained, from the faculty, from Yale, from elsewhere."

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