SIM University (UniSIM) has been renamed the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) effective Friday (March 17), the Ministry of Education (MOE) has announced.
The private university is currently the midst of a restructuring that will see it become Singapore’s sixth autonomous university this year. Parliament will still need to pass an Act to confer autonomous university status on the school.
In a release, Minister for Higher Education and Skills Ong Ye Kung said the name change will help to “reflect (SUSS’) mission of driving lifelong learning anchored in disciplines with a strong social focus”.
“SUSS will add diversity to Singapore’s higher education landscape and complement the existing five AUs (autonomous universities). What will be most unique about the University is its tradition of applied education, and outreach to adult learners, all of which will be kept and strengthened,” he added.
According to the MOE, SUSS will continue to offer the range of programmes that UniSIM had previously. Besides programmes on social work, early childhood education and human resource management, the university this year welcomed its first intake of law students. The MOE says that SUSS will also continue to retain a limited offering in other areas such as business and engineering, especially for adult learners.
“SUSS will continue to cater to a wide range of learners – students, employees looking to upgrade their skills, and passionate learners keen on gaining new knowledge, while providing flexibility for their learning,” said SUSS’ president Professor Cheong Hee Kiat.
Prof Cheong added that the university is committed to ensuring that it remains at the forefront of innovative, flexible, and applied tertiary education “through close collaboration with industry, employers, and the community in the development and design of our programmes”.
Autonomous universities receive government funding and are subject to government oversight, but have the flexibility to set their own direction and differentiate their educational offerings. Currently, National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology and Design and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) are autonomous universities.
In 2012, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced that the Government will add another 3,000 undergraduate places a year by 2020, and the increase would come from expanding programmes run by SIT and UniSIM, which would become Singapore’s fifth and sixth universities.
SIT, which was set up by MOE to offer programmes with overseas universities for polytechnic upgraders, became an autonomous university in 2014, and started offering its own government-funded degree programmes that year.
The then-UniSIM also began offering government-subsidied full-time degree programmes that year, but it remained a private university, as the process for restructuring it as an autonomous university was more complicated.
Last year, an MOE spokesperson said changes to SUSS’ current governance structure would include the transfer of control over key corporate decisions and key powers of appointment from the SIM Governing Council to the Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills).