Singapore's fourth autonomous university is getting a funding boost of up to $75 million from the Ministry of Education (MOE) to bolster its efforts in areas key to the country's growth.
The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) yesterday also launched SUTD Academy, its adult learning initiative .
In the pipeline is a unique "micro-master's" programme that lets adult learners combine bite-sized courses for a certificate, the first of its kind here (see related story).
Speaking at the academy's launch, Education Minister (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung said: "In support of SUTD's efforts, MOE will be setting aside up to $75 million to bolster the university's growth plans in education and research, on top of the current funding."
While both MOE and SUTD declined to reveal the current amount the university is receiving from the ministry, SUTD acting president and provost Chong Tow Chong called the sum "significantly large for SUTD".
It will be used to help the university carry out plans such as developing deeper expertise in several of Singapore's key growth sectors, for instance, by working closely with industry players to plan courses and to carry out research.
SUTD last month announced that it will focus on four key areas: healthcare, cities, artificial intelligence and data science, and aviation.
What is a micro-master?
SUTD Academy will offer a micro-master's programme which, according to acting president and provost Chong Tow Chong, is the first of its kind here.
It is inspired by programmes by other overseas institutions, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States.
Completing each course earns a certain number of credit units.
Participants, who take enough courses in a certain field, can combine the credits to obtain the "micro-master" certification.
Some fields which may kickstart the micro-master's programme include machine learning, cybersecurity, and urban science and planning.
If the participants later gain a deep interest in the field and choose to pursue a master's degree under SUTD, the credit units from the micro-master's programme can be counted towards the degree.
Professor Chong said the university is working with companies to gain recognition for the micro-master qualification.
"Students will also enjoy increased opportunities for international experiences through overseas internships and exchanges," said Professor Chong.
Meanwhile, the academy, started in support of the SkillsFuture Series last October, will offer 20 courses in cyber security, data analytics, engineering, urban solutions and tech-enabled services such as software design.
The courses, which will be taught by SUTD faculty and adjunct fellows, range in length from a day to 23 days, and cost between $570 and $3,600. Three courses have already been launched, while the rest will mainly begin this year.
The academy plans to have 60 courses within five years.
Number of courses SUTD Academy intends to have within five years.
SUTD alumni will get a $500 voucher to attend courses at the academy, and enjoy a free two-year membership which gives them further discounts.
At the launch at the SUTD campus in Upper Changi, Prof Chong also signed memorandums of understanding with 13 strategic partners, including Deloitte Singapore, Temasek Polytechnic and Keppel Offshore and Marine, to develop programmes for SUTD Academy. These companies will also send employees to the academy to help update their skills and stay relevant in the evolving job market.
Under SUTD Academy's micro-master's programme, attendees can combine credit units to obtain the certification.
Prof Chong explained that the certification may serve to encourage participants who lose interest halfway to see the course all the way through.
He said: "The SUTD Academy's launch is timely as Singapore is encouraging continuous learning. It is important for professionals, managers and executives to continually upskill themselves to keep pace with the rapidly changing requirements of the workplace."