A SCHOOL set up here by Australia's James Cook University (JCU) has become the first to win the EduTrust Star - the highest mark of quality awarded to a private school in Singapore.
The school, JCU Singapore, was given the award introduced in 2009 by the Council for Private Education (CPE), the statutory board that regulates the more than 300 private schools here.
The EduTrust Star, which is valid for four years, is given to an institution for excelling in all key areas of management and providing quality education services, said the Council on its website. The mark also recognises sustained efforts in organisational improvement, it added.
JCU Singapore, which moved to a central campus in Sims Drive last month, was set up in 2003 with just 38 students and now has 3,700 students.
JCU vice chancellor Sandra Harding said: "JCU has been committed to building a presence in Singapore since 2003 and sees JCU Singapore as an integral part of James Cook University."
She added: "While the achievement of this highest of quality marks is an achievement in its own right, it demonstrates that JCUS is now ready to be recognised as a branch campus of James Cook University."
JCU Singapore had made a bid a few years ago to be recognised as a foreign university branch campus, instead of being classified as a private education institution.
This would allow the Singapore campus to call itself a university and place it on a par with schools like Essec Business School and the S.P. Jain School of Global Management, which were brought here by the Economic Development Board.
Students from institutes of higher learning, including universities, enjoy privileges such as being able to work part-time.
The CPE, started in 2009 to lift the standards of private schools, has an appraisal system made up of three levels of awards. They are EduTrust provisional, which is valid for only one year, as well as EduTrust, and EduTrust Star, both valid for four years.
Schools are subject to various checks including that of their partners, qualifications of their lecturers as well as their finances.
Dr Dale Anderson, deputy vice-chancellor and head of JCU Singapore, said getting EduTrust Star status has been a priority of the school.
Its faculty members here are all required to have at least a PhD and conduct research, similar to requirements at its home campus. Its degrees follow the curriculum of JCU Queensland and students in the campus here take same exams as their peers in Australia.
Several programmes, including its psychology degree, are accredited by professional bodies in Singapore and Australia, which means its graduates here can practise in Australia .
JCU, the parent university, is making a mark in research areas such as climate change and marine science and aims to become a world leader in tropical issues. It said that the Singapore campus will play a key role in its plan.