JCU status upgraded to branch campus here
LAST YEAR, James Cook University (JCU) Singapore won the Edutrust Star, the highest quality mark awarded to private education institutions here.
In July this year, it will become the first Australian institution here to gain branch campus status as part of a wide-ranging agreement signed last week between Australia and Singapore.
JCU vice-chancellor Sandra Harding said gaining branch campus status in Singapore is the realisation of a long-held dream for the university.
"We wanted to be seen as an Australian university with a campus in Singapore, and now we have that recognition and that capacity to refer to our presence in that way.
"James Cook University's campus in Singapore is wholly owned by the university. The announcement adds legitimacy and clarity to our position and our ambition to be one of the great universities of the tropics."
Instead of being classified as a private education institution, this status would allow the Singapore campus to call itself a university.
Students from institutes of higher learning, including universities, enjoy privileges such as being able to work part-time.
The university, which started here with just 50 students in 2003, has grown its student population to 3,500 and is currently housed in a central campus in Sims Drive.
The 23 degree courses it offers, ranging from business to psychology, are the same as those run at the JCU's two home campuses in Queensland and its students here sit the same examinations.
Its psychology degree, for instance, is accredited by the relevant professional bodies here and in Australia, which means JCU graduates can practise in both countries.
Dale Anderson, deputy vice-chancellor who heads the campus in Singapore, said the university is looking at increasing its degree offerings and boosting its student population to 5,000 in two years.
Among the new offerings that it is seeking approval from the Council of Private Education are degrees in banking and finance, allied health and marine aquaculture, which the university is known for.
Dr Anderson said the university is also looking at launching shorter certificate courses in allied health fields such as diabetes management and dementia management.
"There is a need for people trained in these areas because of the rapidly ageing population in Singapore," he noted.
Research undertaken by the faculty here is also focused on creating new knowledge relevant to Singapore and the region. For example, a study on the effectiveness of telephone-based counselling for people looking to kick the gambling habit was started in the light of the opening of the integrated resorts here.