The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Bill was introduced in parliament on 26 February 1991 and gazetted on 12 April. The university was formally establishment on 1 July 1991. In 2006, NTU became a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee under the Nanyang Technological University (Corporatisation) Act (Cap. 192A).
The roots of NTU can be traced to its predecessor, Nanyang Technological Institute (NTI), which was established in 1981 to address the problem caused by the shortage of engineers due to Singapore’s economic restructuring in the 1970s. With the merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University to form the National University of Singapore (NUS) in 1980, the Council on Professional and Technical Education set up to examine professional and technical education needs in Singapore recommended for the establishment of a new institute that would adopt a practice-orientated programme to train engineers. All second-year students were expected to undergo an in-house practical training to acquire hands-on experience, while industrial attachment took place in the third year to obtain actual working experience.
NTI was located at the former Nanyang University’s Yunnan Garden campus, and functioned as part of NUS in respect of academic matters. It was planned that the new institute would become a full-fledged university approximately 10 years after its establishment.
Many NUS staff were appointed to key positions in the new institution, including Cham Tao Soon, then dean of engineering at NUS, who became the first president of NTI. Renovation and expansion of the existing premises took place between 1981 and 1982, including the planning of the overall NTI layout, which subsequently formed the basic layout of the current NTU campus. The masterplan conceptualised by world-renowned architect Kenzo Tange included a central “spine” from which three “fingers” at right angles spread out, housing the three different schools of engineering: civil and structural engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, and mechanical and production engineering. The central spine contained the administrative offices, computer centre, library, and lecture and seminar rooms.
Further developments took place in NTI in accordance with the NTI Planning and Development Committee’s masterplan in 1980, and recommendations by the NTI Expansion and Review Committee in 1988. The School of Accountancy (renamed Nanyang Business School in 1995) was established in 1987, followed by the School of Applied Science in 1988.
With the formal recognition of NTI as a full-fledged university known as NTU in 1991, the National Institute of Education was merged with the university in the same year. Thus, all graduates received degrees conferred by NTU, instead of NUS. Attempts to develop NTU into a multidisciplinary university followed with the 1991 report, Future Directions for the Nanyang Technological University, and the expansion proposed in the new masterplan by American company Kallmann McKinnell & Wood Architects Inc. In 1996 , the alumni rolls of Nanyang University were transferred from NUS to NTU.
Over the years, different disciplines were established in NTU: the College of Science in 2002, College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences in 2006, and the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine in 2013. The university’s latest strategic plan, NTU 2015, was announced in 2010 with the vision of making the university renowned in five interdisciplinary “peaks of excellence”: sustainable earth, future healthcare, new media, new Silk Road, and innovation Asia – focusing on the sciences, engineering and business.
Through the years of development, NTU has preserved a number of the original buildings and landmarks at the former Nanyang University campus, which include the former administration building, the monument that marked the birth of Nanyang University and the arch at the old entrance. All three were gazetted as national monuments in 1998.
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6. Lu, 1995, p. 15.
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8. Lu, 1995, p. 68.
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14. Lu, 1995, pp. 92–94.
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The information in this article is valid as at February 2015 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.