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UTown in the spotlight at Student Housing Forum

31 August 2012

Prof Tan shared about the resurgence of residential colleges from a global perspective

The state-of-the-art Education Resource Centre at UTown

NUS University Town (UTown) took centrestage as a residential college case study at the 3rd Annual Student Housing Forum on 29 August. The only international speaker, Professor Tan Tai Yong, NUS Vice-Provost (Student Life), delivered his keynote on "The global perspective - The resurgence of a residential college".

At the event held in Melbourne, Australia, Prof Tan discussed the motivation behind the revival of such a trend and why NUS opted for the model. He quoted NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan's observation that "University education is not about narrow intellectual training, but about the broadening of the mind and the development of the whole person." A residential college provides just such an environment for a student to gain an all-rounded university education.

Built on an old golf course amid lush foliage, UTown is strategically integrated with the Kent Ridge Campus via a vehicle and pedestrian bridge. Opened in August 2011, it will house four residential colleges and an EduSports complex when fully completed. NUS undergraduates can enjoy the vibrancy of campus living with an exciting multidisciplinary programme, where they can live and learn together with their peers and professors.

Specially architected around existing trees, UTown's state-of-the-art Education Resource Centre, residential colleges and Graduate Residence have won multiple Green Mark awards. Prof Tan highlighted that a flexible design of spaces allows for more creative and interactive pedagogies, supported by technology that enhances teaching and learning. Facilities for cultural, social and sporting events are also created to enable personal development and community bonding.

The collegiate system goes beyond academic learning by emphasising communication, appreciation of differences, holistic understanding of issues and social awareness. This is accomplished through a curriculum focusing on multidisciplinary engagement, complemented by non-classroom opportunities, he said. In the long run, enduring group relationships and strong bonds will be fostered among students with diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Prof Tan underscored that UTown was the outcome of the vision and unstinting support of the top university leadership, made possible by the full alignment of objectives, coordination of efforts and cooperation of the entire NUS community.

He believes that the way forward to creating a unique and memorable experience for students is through an all-encompassing residential living. And UTown is an emerging model that promises to provide such an engaging and enriching educational journey for NUS undergraduates.

On being the only overseas speaker, Prof Tan felt the invitation to share the NUS experience showed a recognition of what UTown has come to represent in terms of the future of campus residential education.