News Details | 25-Jan-2012

NTU launches premier scholars programme

New curriculum will mould well-rounded top students to become movers and shakers of the 21st century

Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is launching a premier scholars programme to attract the crème de la crème of post-secondary students and prepare them for the demands required of future leaders in the 21st century society and workplace.  Called the University Scholars Programme, it will equip these top students with a strong and diverse set of multi-disciplinary knowledge, skills and qualities that will enable them to function in a variety of high-level careers and become leaders and innovators in their chosen fields.

The programme will provide exceptional opportunities tailored for high-achieving and ambitious students, and stretch them beyond that of a regular undergraduate programme. Besides enabling students to pursue a broader range of academic courses, these students will also have personal guidance by top faculty, interdisciplinary and intensive research opportunities, overseas exposure and the privilege of spending time with Nobel Laureates and some of the world's leading scientists and artists. Students graduating from this challenging undergraduate programme will be awarded a special certificate on top of the degree certificate. 

Elaborating on the significance of the University Scholars Programme, NTU Provost, Professor Freddy Boey said, “Universities around the world are facing intense competition for the world's best and brightest students. NTU is stepping things up by introducing the new University Scholars Programme that we are confident will attract more of these top students from Singapore and the rest of the world.  The programme will encourage them to explore and stretch their intellectual limits, and instil in them strong qualities of mind and character.” 

“The students who undergo the programme will eventually become our future leaders and thinkers who can produce innovative solutions to the world's problems and develop trail-blazing research.  They will also be responsible and effective global-minded professionals with strong ethical values and cross-cultural competence. These are vital qualities that will stand them in good stead in the fast-moving international workplace environment of the 21st century,” Professor Boey stressed.

The pioneer intake of University Scholars starting in Academic Year 2012-13 will be limited to 50 students.  Unlike NTU’s Renaissance Engineering Programme and CN Yang Scholars Programme which are tailored for the top engineering and science students, the most academically talented students from all colleges within NTU will be eligible for the scholars programme, including holders of the Nanyang Scholarship and recipients of other scholarships.  Entry into the University Scholars Programme will be by invitation based on the students’ academic profile. 

Multi-disciplinary rigour and breadth

NTU’s University Scholars will be able to experience disciplinary rigour and richness while also engaging in multi-disciplinary studies designed for the programme. 

The programme will have its own distinct curriculum structure with 25 percent of the curriculum consisting of its own unique core and elective modules, such as the history and philosophy of science, the major works of art, literature, economics and scientific writing, as well as interdisciplinary studies in medical humanities, health informatics and evolutionary psychology.  The remaining 75 percent will be made up of courses from his chosen major discipline where the scholars will have priority in choosing these modules. 

Professor Kam Chan Hin, NTU’s Associate Provost in charge of Undergraduate Education, said, “The University Scholars will get to explore a broad variety of issues and questions such as terrorism, globalisation, business and entrepreneurship, culture and the arts, modern science and technology, and society.  By driving their intellectual curiosity and expanding the opportunities for multi- and inter-disciplinary study, the programme will enable top students to be highly engaged and think laterally across inter-related and complex global issues.”

“These high-performing scholars will naturally be in great demand when they graduate.  To sharpen their competitive edge, we will involve them in leadership training and give them a head start in their careers by connecting them with industry and business leaders. Beyond knowledge sharing, the scholars could also get talent spotted through these interactions with the industry leaders. Together, these unique opportunities will make NTU's University Scholars Programme one of the most prestigious and most compelling undergraduate education options in Singapore,” Professor Kam added.

Students in the University Scholars Programme will participate in specially designed small-group seminars of about 20, work and study overseas, and, under the guidance of NTU’s top faculty, participate in cross-disciplinary and intensive research projects. 

To spur their intellectual curiosity, University Scholars will attend a series of Freshmen Seminars on different topics in any given semester.  Modelled after those of Ivy League universities, the Freshmen Seminar aims to ignite the spirit of intellectual inquiry, teach students to discern relevant information, marshal evidence, formulate arguments, and defend their ideas, rather than merely absorbing information. 

NTU intends to leverage its world-class professors such as inventor and nanotechnology expert Professor Freddy Boey, renowned geologist and seismologist Professor Kerry Sieh, Professor Steffan Kjelleberg, one of the foremost authorities in biofilm biology, and Assoc Prof Low Kay Soon, a key expert behind X-SAT, the first Singapore-built satellite, for these seminar sessions.
Professor Alan Chan, Dean of NTU’s College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and advisor to the University Scholars Programme, will be conducting an elective seminar on “Ethics and Spirituality: East and West”. The course, unique to the programme, will examine some of the core ethical and spiritual concepts such as love, justice, and harmony in the world’s philosophical and religious traditions. 

Highlighting the value of such explorations of great minds and great ideas, Professor Chan, a renowned academic who has written widely on Chinese philosophy and religion said, “The University Scholars Programme utilises the rich educational resources of NTU, spanning the arts humanities and social sciences, business, science, engineering and medicine.  Such opportunities for deeper dialogue and exchange will make these scholars active members of NTU’s intellectual community.  The faculty benefit too – interacting directly with bright and talented new students can be inspiring and invigorating.  It also enables our professors to design seminars on topics they don’t typically have a chance to teach or team up with colleagues to examine significant issues from different perspectives.”

The programme will also offer students the flexibility to customise individual plans of study. With guidance from NTU’s top faculty, University Scholars can select courses to carry out their own programmes, enabling them to focus on topics, issues, or concerns of particular relevance to their intellectual interests. A University Scholar may pursue interdisciplinary or a more in-depth and intensive investigation in a particular field than in a regular undergraduate programme of study. 

A University Scholar will also get to enjoy a number of privileges such as guaranteed accommodation for all four years of study at NTU, access to courses outside the student's official school or college, guaranteed student exchange with an overseas partner university and a travel grant of up to $5,000.

Further information about the NTU University Scholars Programme will be available from February 2012 at:   

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For enquiries on the University Scholars Programme, email:

Media contact:

Feisal Abdul Rahman
Senior Assistant Director (Media Relations)
Corporate Communications Office
Nanyang Technological University
Tel: (65) 6790 6687 

About Nanyang Technological University

A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has 33,500 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, and Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences.  In 2013, NTU will enrol the first batch of students at its new medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, which is set up jointly with Imperial College London.

NTU is also home to four world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).

A fast-growing university with an international outlook, NTU is putting its global stamp on Five Peaks of Excellence: Sustainable Earth, Future Healthcare, New Media, New Silk Road, and Innovation Asia.

Besides the main Yunnan Garden campus, NTU also has a satellite campus in Singapore’s science and tech hub, one-north, and is setting up a third campus in Novena, Singapore’s medical district.
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