Higher Education in Singapore: Perspectives and Future Orientation

Horn Mun Cheah, Laura Lyn Lee

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section


Higher education in Singapore has been closely aligned with the social and economic imperatives of the country throughout its history. From the establishment of the National University of Singapore in 1980 to the setting up of the Singapore University of Social Sciences as the sixth Autonomous University, the national drive to develop human resources with education as a vehicle has been key to the country’s success, but the increasing demand for university places, the impact of Industry 4.0, the dominance of ICT and the use of learning analytics have distinctly affected the way higher education has been delivered and to whom since the turn of the century. This changing landscape also calls into question both the nature and meaning of a university education. The focus on just-in-time learning and the provision of ‘stackable’ skills would likely leave learning gaps that a more traditional degree would find difficult to fill. This chapter begins with a brief review of the history of higher education in Singapore and considers its evolution amidst past and recent pressures. It further examines how local institutions have responded to the shifts and challenges that have accompanied the transformations in our environment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEducation in the Asia-Pacific Region
EditorsY. J. Lee
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherSpringer, Singapore
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9789811699825
ISBN (Print)9789811699818
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Apr 2022
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameEducation in the Asia-Pacific Region
ISSN (Print)1573-5397
ISSN (Electronic)2214-9791


  • Autonomous universities
  • Continuing education and training
  • Future trends
  • Historical developments
  • Human resource and manpower
  • ICT
  • Industry 4.0
  • Knowledge economy
  • Learning processes
  • Lifelong learning
  • Tertiary education
  • University funding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Development


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