Shaping tomorrow: Charting NUS’ impact on talent, solutions and society

Shaping tomorrow: Charting NUS’ impact on talent, solutions and society

In its second edition, Impact for the Future presents The National University of Singapore strides in effecting change in the areas of talent, solutions and society from 2019 to 2023

A breakthrough in affordable cancer monitoring; an AI-powered solution revolutionising workplace safety; a medical student’s rewarding journey as a mentor for disadvantaged youth – these stories of ingenuity, grit and humanity are among the highlights of the National University of Singapore’s newly published impact report.

In its second edition, Impact for the Future presents the University’s strides in effecting change in the areas of talent, solutions and society from 2019 to 2023. It details the diverse ways in which the NUS community has made its mark in Singapore and the world.

“Impact is built upon shared passion and commitment,” said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye. “Reading our stories of impact – from students sharing about how they have grown through service learning, to researchers speaking about the problems they hope to solve – was meaningful to me, and I hope they can inspire others as well.”

Here are some highlights of the report, which can be found here.

Shaping Future Talent: Nurturing changemakers

One of the key areas of impact highlighted by the report is the University’s work in shaping talent, from producing strong graduate employability outcomes, to contributing to larger nation-wide efforts to upskill and reskill.

Exploring the impact of undergraduate education, the report found that 1 in 2 students venture abroad at least once during their time in NUS, while 8 in 10 are enrolled in an interdisciplinary college, where they study across diverse domains and subject areas, gaining a holistic perspective on complex issues.

Moreover, all students have engaged in service learning as part of their curriculum since AY 2021/2022, gaining insight into social issues while working with community partners to advance social services and community building.

One such student is Celest Chiam, who mentored secondary school students as part of the Teach SG programme.

Teach SG equips NUS students with the resources, funding and skills to mentor disadvantaged children and youth. Since its launch in 2021, the programme has empowered nearly 1,650 NUS students to mentor 3,600 beneficiaries. It has also been made available as a practicum under the Communities and Engagement Pillar within the General Education curriculum, which is read by all undergraduates.

“My experience with Teach SG has taught me that there is so much joy in giving, and I have been motivated by my mentees’ eagerness to learn and positive attitude to learning,” said Celest.

Shaping Future Solutions: Tackling real-world problems   

An increase in international collaborations, high-impact publishing, and platforms that address emerging issues like heat resilience and sustainability in medicine: these are some of the highlights in the report’s assessment of how the University is shaping future solutions.

Nearly half of the University’s research publications feature in the top 10 per cent of the most cited journals globally, and its Field-Weighted Citation Impact – which measures how well cited a publication is compared to similar publications – is 2.0, up 13.6 per cent from the last five years.

Over the same period, research funding surged to S$4.3 billion, enabling breakthroughs in areas like quantum technology, sustainability solutions and biomedical science.

The University has also been active in turning research into practical solutions. The past five years have seen 2,369 new patent applications, more than half of which are in the physical sciences. Through NUS’ entrepreneurial ecosystem, researchers and budding entrepreneurs are provided with expertise, funding and connections to realise their ideas.  

Bearing testament to this is BeeX, a start-up founded by NUS alumni Grace Chia and Goh Eng Wei specialising in underwater autonomous robotics solutions.

Grace and Eng Wei had received support from the NUS Graduate Research Innovation Programme, as well as platforms like Technology Transfer and Innovation—NUS Enterprise’s technology translation and commercialisation arm—and PIER71, an ecosystem of maritime veterans and experts, technology, entrepreneurial know-how and investment opportunities.

“PIER71 provided us with wider exposure to the maritime sector for growth, outside of our core work with energy and infrastructure players,” said Grace.

In 2021, BeeX secured significant seven-figure seed funding from Cap Vista, the strategic investment arm of Singapore’s Defence Science and Technology Agency. Two years later, it received the prestigious Enterprise Singapore-Innovate UK grant. Today, BeeX continues to thrive as it prepares to launch BETTA, its newest hovering autonomous underwater vehicle designed for inspecting offshore wind farms, later this year.

Shaping Future Society: A catalyst for good

NUS’ longstanding legacy of service to Singapore—and the ways in which its students, staff and alumni continue to uplift the communities around them—is also featured.

The University has enhanced access to education, with nearly 3,000 students benefiting from zero tuition fees annually. Additionally, 1 in 2 undergraduates leverage various financing platforms to support their education, totalling more than S$787 million—a 28 per cent increase compared to the previous five years.

Playing an instrumental part in shaping public policy, the University has embarked on 100 collaborative research projects with governmental organisations in Singapore and received more than 13,000 citations related to public policy research.

Such efforts extend beyond home as well, such as with the NUS Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health’s initiative in optimising tuberculosis case-finding, treatment and prevention in Cambodia, through which NUS researchers actively engaged local communities. From 2019 to 2022, they screened over 150,000 individuals, diagnosed and cared for more than 3,000 people with tuberculosis, and facilitated preventive treatment for over 3,000 others.

Assistant Professor Yi Siyan, who heads NUS’ health office in Cambodia, emphasised, “Working closely with local partners at every stage of our research helps to foster ownership. It enables us to better translate research findings into policies and actionable steps that can benefit those on the ground who need it the most.”

Shaping a Sustainable Future: Towards a greener tomorrow

The coda of the report touches on a universal challenge: climate change. The University’s drive towards a more sustainable future is propelled by efforts in education, research, innovation and community engagement.  

These touch points are easily accessed by the NUS community – whether it’s in the over 800 sustainability-centric courses that students can choose from, or in the campus that they traverse daily, which features net-zero energy buildings, solar-powered outdoor Wi-Fi and electrified shuttle buses.

The proportion of faculty participating in sustainability-related research has also increased – by 30 per cent – over the past five years.

One such research effort is led by the NUS Centre for Nature-based Climate Solutions, which seeks to harness nature and natural processes to mitigate greenhouse gases.

The Centre is at the forefront of Carbon Integrity SG, a S$15 million research initiative which monitors natural habitats around the region to map nature-based projects that can be developed as potential sources of high-quality carbon credits.

“We have a much better understanding of the value of nature now, and the importance of harnessing nature as part of our solutions against climate change. When it comes to nature-based climate solutions, we are moving very quickly in the right direction,” said Professor Koh Lian Pin, Director of the Centre.

Image: Released every three years, the NUS Impact Report provides an overview of the University’s wide-ranging contributions to individuals, communities and the nation.




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