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New Private University of the Arts Singapore – Formed by Alliance Between NAFA and LASALLE – to Open in 2024

Published Date: 30 August 2022 06:00 PM

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Singapore's first Government–supported private university of the arts, the University of the Arts Singapore (UAS), will open its doors in the second half of 2024. The university, formed by an alliance between LASALLE College of the Arts (LASALLE) and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), will open applications in the third quarter of 2023 for its first cohort of students in August 2024.

2. Along with the Ministry of Education's announcement of the alliance in March 2021, a Pro–Tem Committee, chaired by Professor Chan Heng Chee, was appointed to develop the structure and operating model of the new university. The Pro–Tem Committee has concluded its work after working closely with the two arts institutions and stakeholders over the past year.

Peak of Excellence in Tertiary Arts Education

3. The name University of the Arts Singapore was jointly decided upon by NAFA and LASALLE, following extensive consultations with key stakeholders including Board members, management, staff, alumni and students from the two arts institutions.

4. When established, the new university will contribute towards the arts and culture ecosystem in Singapore. Building on LASALLE and NAFA's unique strengths and decades of experience in arts education, the university will support Singapore's future economy, which will require a diverse talent pool including that from the arts and humanities. UAS will contribute towards making Singapore a creative, innovation–driven city, and a thought leader in the creative arts in Southeast Asia and beyond.

5. UAS comprises an alliance of LASALLE and NAFA as constituent members of UAS, and a new central entity, University of the Arts Singapore (UAS) Ltd. UAS Ltd will lead and provide strategic direction to the university, acting as the coordinating body to drive synergies across UAS. It will also validate, confer and award degrees offered by both institutions, and provide some centralised services to constituent members.

6. Within the alliance, LASALLE and NAFA will remain separate legal entities and distinct colleges with their own identities and heritage. The two institutions will also continue to offer their own programmes on their existing campuses.

Delivering Greater Value Through UAS

7. UAS will draw on the best traditions and heritages of both arts institutions to deliver greater value to students, faculty and staff. It will offer an expanded range of programme offerings in fine arts, design, media arts, performing arts and arts management, as well as in new and upcoming areas in the applied arts. More information for prospective students, including UAS's slate of offerings in Academic Year 2024, will be announced in due time.

8. Students can look forward to a common UAS student experience which builds on their LASALLE and NAFA experiences, more learning opportunities through a wider range of cross–college modules, joint electives, enhanced student support services, and new access to shared resources and facilities.

9. Faculty and staff will benefit from more opportunities in academic, research and teaching collaborations, sharing of pedagogy, resources, and a wider range of programmes to support them in their continuous professional development.

10. UAS will also serve as a focal point for industry collaborations at a larger scale, as well as collaborations with world–class arts practitioners and researchers to further Singapore's status as a thought leader in the creative arts in Asia and beyond. A list of frequently asked questions is provided in Annex A.

Key Leadership Appointments at UAS

11. Key leadership appointments will take effect from 1 September 2022, to commence preparations. The UAS Board of Trustees, led by Mr Jose Isidro "Lito" Camacho as Board Chairperson, has appointed Professor Kwok Kian Woon as the university's inaugural Vice–Chancellor and chief executive.

12. Mr Camacho is the Managing Director and Vice Chairman for Credit Suisse Asia Pacific, based in Singapore. Mr Camacho joined Credit Suisse in 2005 after a distinguished career in government and international banking. He is a member of the International Advisory Panel of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and Senior Advisor or Independent Director to several other business organisations in the region. He was conferred the Public Service Medal in 2021 for his service to the National Gallery Singapore and the promotion of arts in Singapore. He was also formerly a Board member of the National Heritage Board of Singapore. Mr Camacho and his wife are avid art collectors who have accumulated one of the most important private art collections in Asia.

13. Professor Kwok is a veteran of four decades in the higher education sector and is currently Associate Vice President (Wellbeing) at Nanyang Technological University. A scholar with deep interests in the arts and culture, Professor Kwok was also a member of the Pro–Tem Committee. He has paid special attention to arts education and policy, having served in various capacities in arts and cultural institutions, including the National Arts Council, National Heritage Board and several independent arts groups.

Please see Annex B for more information on Mr Camacho and Professor Kwok.

14. "The establishment of University of the Arts Singapore, through a historic alliance of LASALLE and NAFA, is a major step towards elevating arts tertiary education in Singapore. I am honoured to take on the role as founding Chairperson of University of the Arts Singapore, and am confident that the university will play an influential role to drive transformation for creative arts in the region and beyond." said Mr Camacho.

15. "A new university wholly dedicated to the arts is a testimony to the visions of our pioneering artists and arts educators. This represents a resolute commitment to nurturing the artistic potential of our youths, who will lead our next wave of creative energy. We are building on the foundations laid by NAFA and LASALLE, each shaped by its distinctive heritage, bringing to the university its special strengths. Taking up this most challenging role is in keeping with my vocation as a teacher and scholar, whose life and outlook have been profoundly shaped by the arts," said Professor Kwok.

16. LASALLE's Chairperson, Mr Peter Seah said: "The establishment of a university of the arts for Singapore has long been a mission that is very close to my heart. Now that we have reached this significant milestone, we are honoured to be part of the making of something great for the future of Singapore. From a small arts college, LASALLE is now an internationally ranked institution. Our alumni are flying the Singapore flag high on the world stage. This growth has come hand in hand with the maturing of our nation where people now recognise the importance of creativity and innovation in all sectors. This is the difference an arts education can make. The founding of University of the Arts Singapore is a most timely one. Singapore deserves a world–class homegrown university for our artists and creatives to realise their dreams and aspirations."

17. NAFA's Chairperson, Ms Low Sin Leng said: "The establishment of University of the Arts Singapore is a momentous milestone for NAFA, Singapore and the region, and we are excited to be part of it as founding members. Known for our strong interdisciplinary, practice–led, industry–focused curriculum anchored in our unique Southeast Asian identity, I am confident that the NAFA management, our illustrious alumni, dedicated faculty and passionate students will rally to build the university into a global leader for arts education. Along with LASALLE, I look forward to leveraging our strengths to advance arts and design practice, research and discourse from Asia to the world."

18. Information on UAS can be found at www.uas.edu.sg.