National University of Singapore
#192 Overall Influence

National University of Singapore

Autonomous research university in Singapore

By James Barham, PhD

The National University of Singapore (NUS) was founded in 1905 as the Straits Settlements and Federated Malay States Government Medical School, in what was then the British-controlled Straits Settlements colony.

NUS—like the nation of which it is a part—has a long and complex history

In 1912, the British king, Edward VII, provided a permanent endowment for the new medical school. In gratitude, the administration changed the school’s name the following year, to the King Edward VII Medical School.

The medical school grew rapidly, requiring the expansion of its academic curriculum. This change was acknowledged in 1921 by another institutional name change—to the King Edward VII College of Medicine.

A second institution of higher learning—Raffles College—was established in 1928 as a liberal arts college for the ethnic-Malay population of Singapore.

In 1948, the colony of British Malaya was reorganized as the Federation of Malaya and Singapore. The following year, the King Edward VII College of Medicine and Raffles College merged, creating the University of Malaya. The University of Malaya, with campuses in Singapore and in Kuala Lumpur, was intended to serve the population of the entire Federation.

In 1955, a third school, named Nanyang University, opened in Singapore to serve the ethnic-Chinese community there.

Two years later, in 1957, the British departed and the Federation of Malaya became an independent nation. In 1962, the University of Malaya’s Singapore campus declared itself an autonomous institution, under the name of University of Singapore.

The following year, in 1963, the new nation changed its name to Malaysia. Two years later, in 1965, Singapore seceded from Malaysia and became an independent country in its own right—the world’s only city-state.

Finally, in 1980, the University of Singapore merged with Nanyang University to create the current National University of Singapore.

NUS is associated with the following prominent individuals:

  • Mathematicians, Louis Chen Hsiao Yun, Gan Wee Teck & Chen-Bo Zhu
  • Physicists, Richard Friend, Artur Ekert & Charles Bailyn, as well as the Nobel laureate, Konstantin Novoselov
  • Chemist, Young-Tae Chang
  • Biochemists, Miranda Yap & Barry Halliwell
  • Botanist, Nam-Hai Chua
  • Neurologist, Lee Wei Ling
  • Poet and playwright, Alfian bin Sa’at
  • Singer and songwriter, Corinne May
  • Chinese folk song artist and author, Liang Wern Fook
  • Actors, Jeanette Aw, Felicia Chin, Desmond Tan, Shawn Lee & Raline Shah
  • Historians, Prasenjit Duara & M.C. Ricklefs
  • Sinologists, Wang Gungwu & Huang Jianli
  • Sociologist, Chua Beng Huat
  • Economists, Danny Quah & Julian Wright
  • Legal scholar and author, Alec Stone Sweet
  • TV news anchor, Tung Soo Hua
  • International lawyer and diplomat, Tommy Koh
  • Former Singapore Chief Justice, Chan Sek Keong
  • Current Singapore Chief Justice, Sundaresh Menon
  • Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Abdul Razak Hussein
  • Former Malaysian Prime Minister, Mahathir bin Mohamad
  • Former President of Singapore, Benjamin Sheares
  • Current President of Singapore, Halimah binti Yacob
  • First and longest-serving President of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew

What is National University of Singapore known for?

#61 World Rank
#81 World Rank
#81 World Rank
#95 World Rank
Political Science
#117 World Rank
#121 World Rank
#129 World Rank
#132 World Rank
Computer Science
#142 World Rank
Social Work
#193 World Rank
#214 World Rank
#225 World Rank
#235 World Rank
#247 World Rank
#254 World Rank
#260 World Rank
#351 World Rank
#358 World Rank
Criminal Justice
#434 World Rank
Earth Sciences
#462 World Rank
Religious Studies
#588 World Rank
#607 World Rank
#832 World Rank

Influential People

Who are National University of Singapore's Most influential alumni?

National University of Singapore's most influential alumni faculty include professors and professionals in the fields of Business, Engineering, and Law. National University of Singapore’s most academically influential people include Sundaresh Menon, Andrew Phang, and V. K. Rajah.

Sundaresh Menon
Sundaresh Menon

Chief Justice of Singapore, and former Attorney-General, judge of the High Court, and lawyer

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Andrew Phang
Andrew Phang

Singaporean judge

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V. K. Rajah
V. K. Rajah

Attorney-General of Singapore and former judge

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Kishore Mahbubani
Kishore Mahbubani

Singaporean diplomat

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Ho Ching
Ho Ching

Singaporean businesswoman and Spouse of the Prime Minister of Singapore

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Nam-Hai Chua


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Simon Tay
Simon Tay

Singaporean author, law academic and Nominated Member of Parliament

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Olivia Lum

Singaporean businesswoman

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Ng Ser Miang
Ng Ser Miang

Singaporean diplomat

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Min-Liang Tan
Min-Liang Tan

Singaporean video game designer

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Alfian Sa'at

Singaporean novelist, poet, and playwright

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Goh Yihan

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