Singapore as a "Global Schoolhouse"

Education has always represented an area of focus for Singapore since its independence in 1965. Its emphasis on education partly reflects Singapore's virtual lack of natural resources and Singapore's need to develop its human resource and manpower capability in its continuing quest to build a knowledge-based economy.

In recent years, the goal of the education sector, and in particular tertiary education has moved beyond simply building local manpower capabilities, and is actively being developed by the Singapore government as a source of revenue. The government's plan, which was initiated in 2002, is to make Singapore a "Global Schoolhouse", attracting revenue-generating international students. In 2002, the education sector accounted for 3.6% of Singapore's economy. The government's aim was to grow this sector to 5% of Singapore's economy over the subsequent decade.

Institutions offering tertiary education represent a diverse and "tiered system" comprising world class universities, local universities, and private universities. World class universities that have set up campuses or centres of excellence in Singapore include Johns Hopkins University, Duke University, INSEAD, ESSEC, FOX EMBA, University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, Technische Universitat Munchen, and the Georgia Institute of Technology. Local universities include the National University of Singapore, formed in 1980 by the merger of the University of Singapore and the Nanyang University, Nanyang Technological University, the Singapore Management University established in 2000, and the recently established Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) and Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT). Both SUTD and SIT were established in 2009. The first private university, the Singapore Institute of Management University, known as SIM University, was established in 2005.