NAFA and University of the Arts London partner to launch new degree programmes for art and design in Singapore

08 January 2021
Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts

  • In partnership with a world leading university for art and design undergraduate programmes
  • The planned degrees will be distinctive in the region for a transdisciplinary learning curriculum, nurturing students to be versatile with a critical perspective across specialisations, preparing them for an ever-changing arts landscape


The Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) and University of the Arts London (UAL) are proud to announce their partnership to introduce new art and design degrees in Singapore. This partnership will see degrees developed in close consultation with the industry to reflect the progressive arts education landscape in Singapore, keeping abreast of industry demands. This collaboration marks the first time that UAL, ranked 2nd in the world for art and design in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020 and global leader at undergraduate level, is validating degrees outside of the UK.

A launch event held at NAFA this evening was officiated by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for Economic Policies and Minister for Finance Mr Heng Swee Keat. Alongside DPM Heng, Minister of State for Education Gan Siow Huang and NAFA Board Chairman Low Sin Leng witnessed the signing ceremony, which was facilitated via live streaming from the UK. Select guests from Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE), National Arts Council and Design Singapore Council also graced the ceremony.

Under UAL’s umbrella of six Colleges, NAFA will be working with Camberwell College of Arts, Chelsea College of Arts and Wimbledon College of Arts. The degrees will be distinctive in the region as they require students to explore across their specialisms so they may develop as versatile artists and designers. For example, fine artists will have the option to delve into 2D, 3D and 4D mediums, design students will undertake project work with classmates from different specialisations; while performance-related undergraduates will work across dance and theatre practices in their studies.

In addition, when developed, industry experience will be a mandatory part of the curriculum, as students are required to complete internships, industry attachments or industry projects. This prepares the undergraduates for an ever-changing arts landscape, ensuring they have a multidisciplinary perspective and are well-equipped to handle the evolving demands of the arts and design landscape as well as the wider economy. The partnership will offer opportunities for undergraduates to spend five or seven weeks on an international placement at the UAL campus and study with the university’s renowned academics and practitioners (arrangements pending the COVID-19 situation). There will also be exchange opportunities in place for development and growth of staff and faculty from both institutions.

The planned two-year top-up degrees will allow NAFA students to build upon their education after completing relevant diplomas. A three-year pathway will also be available for students with A-level or equivalent qualifications, and diploma students without prior relevant qualifications. The courses are targeted to commence from the academic year of 2021/2022. Eligible students will receive government subsidies for the tuition fees for these courses. More details will be announced in due course.

“This move signifies NAFA’s intention to inspire learning and growth through the arts with a global perspective. The partnership with University of the Arts London cements our foothold in the world of art and design, with stronger capabilities to take our students to the next level. Art and design aspirants are afforded a chance to pursue their dreams with holistic international experiences while working with the best in their fields. Overall, this effort parallels NAFA’s spirit of creativity and exploration, daring to push for exciting opportunities and discover new educational frontiers. I urge our students to make the best use of it,” said Chairman Low.

In a pre-recorded speech, Professor David Crow, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Head of Camberwell, Chelsea and Wimbledon Colleges of Arts at UAL said, “We are excited about working with NAFA, a renowned pioneering arts institution in Southeast Asia. Whilst giving us an opportunity to share our knowledge and experience, it also gives us the chance to discover more about the unique Nanyang spirit and art practices from the other side of the globe. The NAFA undergraduates will adopt a transdisciplinary approach as art and design practitioners, while being able to position their works within contemporary cultural, social and historical contexts. Ultimately, both institutions will mutually benefit and grow stronger together.”

The idea for the partnership was formed at the start of 2020. Despite international lock downs and the Circuit Breaker in Singapore due to COVID-19, this collaboration grew from strength to strength and was eventually realised by the year end. Using communicative technology to connect internationally, coupled with a tenacity to strive for educational excellence, this rapid effort is a testament to the resilience and progressiveness showcased by of both NAFA and the UAL.

To commemorate this event, NAFA’s Dance and Theatre programmes put on performances while the School of Art and Design showcased a display of 2D, 3D and 4D works. The event was held on a small scale with limited audience and all necessary safe management measures for the event were in place. The ceremony was also broadcast live on NAFA’s social media channels.

Annex 1 – Background Information