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Partners situated in Singapore


Singapore in a nutshell

Singapore (Chinese: 新加坡; pinyin: Xīnjiāpō; Malay: Singapura; Tamil: சிங்கப்பூர், Cingkappūr), officially the Republic of Singapore, is an island city-state located at the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, lying 137 kilometres (85 mi) north of the equator, south of the Malaysian state of Johor and north of Indonesia's Riau Islands. At 710.2 km2 (274.2 sq mi), Singapore, a microstate and the smallest nation in Southeast Asia, is by orders of magnitude larger than Monaco, Andorra and Vatican City, the only other surviving sovereign city-states.

The population of Singapore is approximately 4.86 million.

Since independence, Singapore's standard of living has risen dramatically. Foreign direct investment and a state-led drive to industrialisation based on plans drawn up by the Dutch economist Albert Winsemius have created a modern economy focused on industry, education and urban planning. Singapore is the 5th wealthiest country in the world in terms of GDP (PPP) per capita.In December 2008, the foreign exchange reserves of this small island nation stood at around US$174.2billion. The Singapore government had for the first time in history tapped into her official reserves and withdrew some S$4.9 billion with the President's approval. The funds were then used as part of the S$20.5 billion Resilience Package unveiled by Finance Minister Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam on 5 February 2009. As at January 2009 Singapore's official reserves stood at US$170.3 billion.

In 2009, Economist Intelligence Unit has ranked Singapore the 10th most expensive city in the world in which to live. It is the 3rd most expensive Asian city to live in, after Japanese cities Tokyo and Osaka.

Singapore is highly cosmopolitan and diverse with Chinese people forming an ethnic majority with large populations of Malay, Indian and other people. English, Malay, Tamil, and Chinese are the official languages.

The Constitution of the Republic of Singapore established the nation's political system as a representative democracy, while the country is recognised as a parliamentary republic. The People's Action Party (PAP) dominates the political process and has won control of Parliament in every election since self-government in 1959.


The official languages are English, Malay, Chinese (Mandarin) and Tamil.

The national language of Singapore is Malay for historical reasons, and it is used in the national anthem, "Majulah Singapura".

English is the main language of Singapore and has been heavily promoted as such since the country's independence. The English used is primarily based on British English, with some American English influences. The use of English became widespread in Singapore after it was implemented as a first language medium in the education system, and English is the most common language in Singaporean literature. In school, children are required to learn English and one of the three other official languages. By law, all signs and official publications are required to be primarily in English, although they are occasionally translated versions into the other official languages. However, most Singaporeans speak a localised hybrid form of English known as Singlish ("Singapore English"), which has many creole-like characteristics, incorporating vocabulary and grammar from Standard English, various Chinese dialects, Malay, and Indian languages.

The second most common language in Singapore is Mandarin, with over 70% of the population having it as a second language. Most Singapore Chinese are, however, descended from immigrants who came from the southern regions of China where other dialects were spoken, such as Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese. Mandarin use has spread largely as a result of government efforts to support its adoption and use over the dialects.

Singapore education policy

Singapore education system

English is the medium of instruction in Singapore schools.

All Singaporeans are required at least primary 6 education and must attend government schools as part of National Education.

Many children attend private kindergartens until they start at primary school at the age of six. Singapore's ruling political party, the PAP, is the largest provider of preschool education through its community arm.

English is the language of instruction for mathematics and the natural sciences. For the Chinese community, there are Special Assistance Plan schools which receive extra funding to teach in Mandarin along with English. Some schools also integrate language subjects with mathematics and the sciences, using both English and a second language.

Curricular standards are set by the Ministry of Education with a mix of private schools and public schools. There is no strict public-private dichotomy: the degree of autonomy, regarding curriculum and student admission, government funding received, and tuition burden on the students is further classified into "government-run", "government-aided", "autonomous", "independent", and "privately-funded". In addition, international schools cater to expatriate students, and to a few local students given permission by the education ministry.

The educational system features non-compulsory kindergarten for three years, followed by six years of primary education leading up to the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE). Four to five years of secondary education follow, leading up to the Singapore-Cambridge GCE 'N' Level or Singapore-Cambridge GCE 'O' Level examinations that assess academic achievement and determine the kind of post-secondary education routes they can pursue.

Junior Colleges and Centralised Institutes provide a two or three-year pre-university education route. An alternative, the Integrated Programme, lets the more academically-inclined skip the 'O' Level examination and proceed straight to obtain pre-university qualifications such as the GCE 'A' Level certificate, the International Baccalaureate diploma, or other equivalent academic accreditations.

In 1999, the Ministry of Education started the Programme for Rebuilding and Improving Existing schools (PRIME) to upgrade school buildings, many of which were built over 20 to 30 years ago, in phases at a cost of S$4.5 billion. This programme aims to provide a better school environment for the students by upgrading school buildings to latest standards.

In 2005, the Flexible School Infrastructure (FlexSI) framework was implemented through the building of modular classrooms which can be opened up for larger lectures, and allowing a school's staff members to mould their school's designs to suit the school's unique identity and culture. At the same time, an indoor sports hall will be provided to every school so that schools can carry out physical education lessons in inclement weather.

Higher education

Polytechnics offer courses leading up to at least a diploma for students, while the other tertiary institutions offer various bachelor's, master's, doctoral degrees, other higher diplomas, and associate degree courses.

Other institutes include the National Institute of Education (NIE), a teaching college to train teachers, various management institutes, and vocational education institutes such as the Institute of Technical Education (ITE).

Universities in Singapore

There are three Autonomous Universities in Singapore;

  1. National University of Singapore
  2. Nanyang Technological University
  3. Singapore Management University.

A fourth public university is under consideration as the government looks to provide higher education for 30% of each cohort.

There is another category (Private Universities - Comprehensive):

  • SIM University (UniSIM) provides university education to working professionals and adult learners.

Polytechnics in Singapore

There are five polytechnics

  1. Singapore Polytechnic
  2. Ngee Ann Polytechnic
  3. Temasek Polytechnic
  4. Nanyang Polytechnic
  5. Republic Polytechnic

Unlike similarly named institutions in many other countries, polytechnics in Singapore do not award degrees.

Higher education reform

The Bologna Process

Administration and finance

Quality assurance

Singapore's HEIs in the information society

Towards the information society

Information society strategy

Virtual Campuses in HE

Interesting Virtual Campus Initiatives

These include:

  1. Nanyang Technological University
  2. National University of Singapore
  3. SIM University (UNISIM, UniSIM) was opened in 2005 as Singapore's first private university. The university is part of the Singapore Institute of Management (SIM) Group. UniSIM has both full-time and part-time students, and is dedicated to providing working professionals with the opportunity to upgrade their qualifications for lifelong employability. It also seeks to give adult learners the chance to acquire university degrees.

Interesting Programmes

  1. was founded as "Asia's first e-Learning provider" in 1999. It is the largest e-Learning provider outside the United States, with over 72,000 users. offers online courses from organisations including the University of Portsmouth (UK), University of Wales (UK), Macquarie University (Australia), and Curtin University of Technology (Australia). Targeted students are largely from Asian countries, e.g. Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
  2. Universitas 21 Global (U21Global) is a joint educational venture of Universitas 21 and the Thomson Corporation established in 1997. Based in Singapore, U21Global offers online postgraduate degree programmes in partnership with an international network of universities. Partners include Lund University, the National University of Singapore, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Tecnológico de Monterrey, the University College Dublin, the University of Birmingham, the University of Queensland and others.

Re.ViCa Case-study


Lessons learnt


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