The University of the Arts Singapore (UAS), formed by an alliance between LASALLE College of the Arts (LASALLE) and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA), will receive its first cohort of students in August 2024.
According to the Singapore Ministry of Education, ‘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.’
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.
The name University of the Arts Singapore was jointly decided upon by NAFA and LASALLE, following extensive consultations with Board members, management, staff, alumni and students from the two arts institutions.
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.
UAS will offer an expanded range of programmes 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 course.
Faculty and staff will benefit from more opportunities in academic, research and teaching collaborations, sharing of pedagogy, resources, and a wider range of professional development programmes.
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.
The UAS Board of Trustees has appointed Professor Kwok Kian Woon as the university’s inaugural Vice–Chancellor and chief executive.
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.
Professor Kwok said, ‘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’.
LASALLE’s Chairperson 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.’
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-focussed 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.’