PM Lee says University Town launch is key development for NUS

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Thursday launched the University Town project at the National University of Singapore (NUS), which will also be the site of the Youth Olympic Village if the country wins the bid to host the Games.

The government has confirmed that the project has been given top priority and will be completed by 2010.

According to the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, the project is on the government’s “green lane”, a fast track to ensure that it clears all the necessary regulations faster than normal, without compromising on design standards, occupational health and safety.

Mr Lee also assured that the University Town will be completed in time for the Games in 2010.

“We are delighted that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has selected Singapore as one of two candidates in the final shortlist. We plan to use the University Town as the Youth Olympic Village, and will make sure that it is completed in time for the Games,” he said.

He added he is confident Singapore can deliver a high-quality, memorable event that will celebrate the spirit of the Games, strengthen the Olympic movement and leave a lasting impact on young people around the world.

Located just 13 kilometres from the city centre, athletes will need only no more than 30 minutes to get to all sports venues from the University Town.

Mr Lee also noted that the S$500 million University Town project is a key development for NUS and for tertiary education in Singapore.

The sprawling 19-hectare site at the former Warren Golf Club on Dover Road will accommodate Singapore’s first residential colleges, offering students a holistic and unique learning experience.

The prime minister Lee said: “Currently, NUS has several halls of residence which fulfil some of the functions of residential colleges. The halls are student dormitories that allow students to enjoy the benefits of living on campus.

“They serve student life well with a range of social and sporting activities and help to develop a sense of community, but are not organised for residential learning in an integrated and multi-disciplinary setting.

“The University Town will take this one step further with the establishment of residential colleges. Along with two graduate residences, six residential colleges will be set up, with each headed by a Master and supported by a team of faculty fellows, graduate tutors and staff.

“Each college will have the flexibility to chart its future direction and evolve its own distinctive characteristics. But the emphasis across all colleges will be on multi-disciplinary learning, with intensive small-group sessions to encourage maximum interaction and discussion.

“At the same time, they will offer opportunities for social, cultural and recreational activities to deliver a more rounded learning experience.”

NUS Professor Lily Kong said: “The residential halls that we have at the moment… have done a fabulous job in terms of encouraging and developing a sense of student identity and community and commitment to NUS and their halls of residence. We want to continue. All we are trying to do here is to add another dimension which currently doesn’t exist – the learning component in the colleges.”

The prime minister also said the Committee on the Expansion of the University Sector, headed by Minister of State for Education Lui Tuck Yew, will be ready with its report in August.

Besides studying the form of the fourth publicly funded university, the committee is also looking at other major changes to help meet the future needs of the economy. – CNA/ac

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 31 Jan 2008

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