Published on 05 Mar 2021

NTU 2025 – An ambitious agenda for global impact

NTU has developed an ambitious five-year strategic plan to transform research, innovation and education and create a community working together for a better world.

As an internationally acclaimed university with strengths across many disciplines, NTU has both the opportunity and responsibility to address global challenges like climate change, emerging health threats and an ageing population. Answering the call, NTU has developed an ambitious five-year strategic plan: NTU 2025.

Building on the University’s core pillars of education, research, innovation and community, NTU 2025 will tackle four of humanity’s biggest challenges: mitigating our impact on the environment; harnessing the science, art and technology of learning; addressing technology’s impact on humanity; and responding to the needs and challenges of healthy living and ageing.

“Achieving the goals that we have set for ourselves in this strategic plan will position NTU for the next stage in its significant growth and impact, and further distinguish NTU Singapore uniquely among its international peers,” said NTU President Prof Subra Suresh at the launch of NTU 2025 in January 2021.

Key NTU 2025 initiatives.

Turning high-impact research into innovation

The NTU 2025 strategy will focus on fostering interdisciplinary research in six research clusters aligned with the four grand challenges of humanity:

1. Health & Society: Addressing the challenges faced by rapidly ageing societies.

Meeting needs of ageing societies. Credit: NTU.

2. Brain & Learning: Lifelong learning and educational research at the intersection of neuroscience, cognitive science and science-of-learning fields.

Studying child development. Credit: NTU.

3. Culture, Organisations & Society: Recognising the impact of diverse cultural forms, arts and linguistic inheritances on philosophical thinking and value systems.

4. Artificial & Augmented Intelligence: Leveraging NTU’s immersive engineering eco-system anchored by corporate labs and public and private sector partnerships.

Virtual and augmented reality-enhanced learning experiences. Credit: NTU.

5. Resilient Urbanisation & Natural Ecosystems: Addressing climate change science, tropical natural and urban ecosystem ecology, human health and disease, and urban environments and behavioural economics.

Microbial testing of Singapore's air quality to safeguard public health. Credit: NTU.

6. Future of Industry: Leveraging technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to enhance industry and drive Singapore’s economy.

Using food waste to recycle batteries. Credit: NTU.

In alignment with Singapore’s S$25 billion (US$19 billion) Research, Innovation & Enterprise 2025 plan, these six interdisciplinary focus clusters will be supported by new academic and research entities and programmes that build on the University’s globally recognised strengths in these areas.  

To further strengthen its leadership position in interdisciplinary research, NTU will create interdisciplinary faculty positions across colleges and schools, establish standards for rewarding staff who transcend traditional intellectual boundaries, and support faculty, staff and students at different stages of their career development through a new university-wide leadership training programme called LEAD@NTU.

Partners in innovation

Looking beyond the University, the Global Alliance of Industries @ NTU (GAIN) seeks to attract global and local companies to collaborate and catalyse industry-university partnerships.

As part of the NTU 2025 plan, the University will also increase its efforts to transform the NTU Smart Campus into a living testbed for innovative technologies and solutions in learning, living and sustainability.

Solar farming on NTU's campus. Credit: NTU.

Aiming to walk the talk, NTU has set an ambitious target of halving net energy intensity, water usage and waste generation by March 2026, compared to the levels of 2011, with the help of its own innovations. The University will also strive to achieve Green Mark Platinum certification—Singapore’s national benchmark for energy-efficient and eco-friendly buildings—for all its buildings.

NTU also aims to be at the epicentre of pioneering research, knowledge creation, innovation and industry engagement by serving as the academic anchor in major new infrastructure projects and ecosystems planned for development around its two campuses.

The future of learning

Similarly, undergraduates can look forward to more interdisciplinary activities, including a new common interdisciplinary core curriculum, select PhD-level courses, pan-university advanced degree programmes in interdisciplinary areas such as neuroscience, and compulsory internships.

The University also plans to establish more industry-relevant, modular courses in collaboration with corporate partners, and expand continuing education and training programmes to help Singapore’s workforce remain competitive in the global talent market.

These educational initiatives, together with other efforts in pedagogy, technology and learning sciences, will be coordinated and synergised through the Institute for Pedagogical Innovation, Research and Excellence (InsPIRE) to be launched this year.

“Success in our NTU 2025 efforts requires ensuring uniformity of excellence, fostering interdisciplinary collaborations, and creating impactful innovation to benefit society,” said Prof Suresh. “I very much look forward to working together with our committed community of scholars, students, staff, and alumni to further NTU’s work in the service of humanity.”

The article appeared first in NTU's research & innovation magazine Pushing Frontiers (issue #18, February 2021).