In 1995, the Chinese Newspapers Division of Singapore Press Holdings and Sony Systems Design International Pte Ltd jointly produced a CD-ROM on former Senior Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. With the consent of Mr Lee, the net proceeds from the sale of 100 gold-plated CD-ROM and 20,000 copies of the CD-ROM together with a TransitLink fare card were donated to the Universities Endowment Fund in 1996 for the purpose of instituting awards of the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medals. Bearing utmost prominence by virtue of the name of the award, the gold medals are awarded in recognition of academic excellence. 1996 saw the first 10 NTU recipients of the award, and thereafter, numerous NTU graduates who emerged top in their respective programmes were bestowed the prestige of the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medals.
The gold medals are awarded to top NTU students who are first in general proficiency throughout their programmes of study and who have obtained a First Class Honours in their respective degree programmes.