Singapore has come a long way from the time when parents would insist their children earn degrees only in law, business or the sciences. Arty alternatives such as the Lasalle College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) have seen increasing student intakes as the arts scene grows. The founding of the School of the Arts, as well as Lasalle and Nafa offering degree courses in collaboration with institutions such as Goldsmiths, University of London and the Royal College of Music, helped fill the arts gaps in the education system. The time may be ripe for Singapore to have its own fully fledged university for the arts, as Nominated MP Terence Ho suggested in Parliament last week. The suggestion has merits beyond the usual Singaporean instinct for the paper chase.
While there are about 30 undergraduate courses available here, they could be brought together in one university instead of spread across various institutions. This could alleviate resource concerns – consolidating student intake and investment in infrastructure and human resources. Having arts studies in one university could also encourage multi-disciplinary cooperation across more sectors. Lasalle’s students already do so across the schools of film, acting, and art on their projects. Such possibilities could expand with an arts university, enriching students’ learning experiences. Universities are also centres of research.