A culture of service to the community is ingrained in our DNA. We were founded as a modest medical school in 1905 by a group of local businessmen to serve the needs of the local community. Today, we continue to draw on our resources, expertise and selfless passion to help the underserved and contribute towards a better society in Singapore and beyond.

Our key areas of impact


We bring new insight and expertise to complex policy challenges both at home and abroad. Our research has informed policymaking in areas such as public health, social welfare and urban sustainability.

policy-iconPublic Policy Research
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    publications released

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collaborative projects/studies with national government

FY2016 – FY2020 (Dec 2020)

Uncovering the science behind a healthy life

Inaugurated in 2009, GUSTO – or Growing Up in Singapore Towards Healthy Outcomes – has gathered data from mothers and their children for insights into the link between genetics, environment and non-communicable diseases such as obesity and diabetes. Translating scientific evidence into clinical practice and actionable healthcare policy, this study has

  • led to the universal screening of all pregnant women for gestational diabetes since February 2017
  • achieved 94% accuracy in predicting which children will need learning support at ages seven and eight, thus allowing for screening of high-risk children and early interventions

Spotlighting homelessness in Singapore

A study by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy from 2018 to 2019 spotlighted the issue of homelessness in Singapore, prompting a national conversation on this topic and an expansion of outreach services. The findings included a total count of the homeless population and detailed data on their profile and geographical distribution. It also re-examined the current understanding of Singapore’s public housing model in academic literature.


Photo: Rory Gardiner

Pioneering a model for sustainable urban living

SDE4 at the NUS School of Design and Environment is not only Singapore’s first new-build net-zero energy building, but also a living laboratory. Initiatives launched within SDE4 with industry partners and public agencies emphasise sustainable design, health and well-being. Insights from these projects can be extrapolated to catalyse greener and healthier living in the greater Singapore community. NUS is working closely with the Singapore Ministry of National Development’s Centre for Liveable Cities to scale solutions like SDE4 to achieve urban sustainability goals.

Leading the way in legal reform

The NUS Faculty of Law has provided valuable input and advice on legal policies and reforms, both nationally and internationally.

  • Professor Joel Lee has played a critical role in shaping the ecosystem of international mediation in Singapore. His research and thought leadership have influenced mediation training standards and the wording of the Mediation Act and the UN Model Law on Mediation and Conciliation.
  • Professor Simon Chesterman serves on the Data Protection Advisory Committee of the Infocomm Media Development Authority of Singapore. He offers insights on the review and administration of Singapore’s personal data protection framework.

Transforming the world through policy research

The Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy influences policy development at the national level, and contributes to knowledge about Asia’s development. Through collaborations with other global institutions, the School’s researchers contribute to meaningful policymaking beyond Singapore.


Advancing palliative care in Asia

The Lien Centre for Palliative Care (LCPC), Asia’s first research centre on palliative care, aims to improve the end-of-life experience. Its work has informed national strategies for palliative care in Singapore and across the region. Through the APPROACH (Asian Patient Perspectives Regarding Oncology Awareness, Care and Health) project, it collaborates with 11 investigators from eight Southeast Asian countries to produce policy-relevant research and build capacity. This collaboration has influenced local policymakers, with more funds directed towards palliative care.

“Collaborating with LCPC has been an important milestone in my career. I have been working with the Centre since 2016 on the multi-country collaborative project APPROACH, which is the first palliative care study in my country, Myanmar. Findings from the APPROACH study have not only highlighted unmet palliative care needs of advanced cancer patients, but also had a fruitful impact on palliative care policies and services.”

Dr Ssu Wynn Mon

Department of Medical Research, Ministry of Health, Myanmar


From empowering students to lead community projects to building capacity for local charities, we serve Singapore on many levels. Our approach is based on our expertise, our longstanding relationships with communities, and a desire to give back to society. Our students have also emerged as leaders in government as well as captains of industry and the third sector.

President’s Volunteerism
& Philanthropy Award


ComChest Charity Award (Bronze)


awardsCommunity Projects
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    student-run projects benefitting the local community
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    non-profit partners on average
Number of student-run local community projects

* Scaled-down activities due to COVID-19

AY2016 – AY2020 (Dec 2020)

awardsPublic Service Leaders

NUS alumni make up

  • half

    of the 14th Singapore Parliament

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    Members of Parliament, Non-Constituency Members of Parliament, and Nominated Members of Parliament

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    Singapore Presidents and Prime Ministers

    • Madam Halimah Yacob (Class of 1978)
    • Mr Goh Chok Tong (Class of 1964)
    • Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam (Class of 1962)
    • Mr S R Nathan (Class of 1954)
    • Mr Lee Kuan Yew (1940 – 1941)
    • Dr Benjamin Sheares (Class of 1929)

Fostering a culture of giving back

We inspire our students towards civic-mindedness by embedding community impact into our curriculum and wider school activities. We provide them with opportunities to develop their own initiatives or address community needs in partnership with local non-profit organisations.

NUSSU Rag & Flag

NUS Students’ Union (NUSSU) Rag & Flag is a unique tradition dating back to the 1950s. Every year on Flag Day, thousands of NUS students reach out to the public to seek donations, which are then distributed by the Community Chest to various social service agencies. This is followed by Rag Day, a carnival featuring vibrant performances by our students in appreciation of the community’s support.

“Conversations about suicide are never easy, but that does not mean that we should stop talking about it. We are grateful to have the support from NUSSU Rag & Flag by raising awareness and funds for our cause. The team’s effort and hard work that went into the event planning is really heartening and much appreciated by the organisation.”

Samaritans of Singapore

“The NUSSU Rag & Flag has been supporting the Autism Resource Centre over the past few years. Although it is a different team each year, we experience the same highly passionate spirit and enthusiasm for our cause. We are grateful and privileged for their efforts in promoting inclusion for the special needs community!”

Autism Resource Centre (Singapore)


NUS Day of Service

Every first Saturday in September, the entire NUS community contributes their skills to good causes. Previous initiatives range from 3D printing of tools for healthcare workers to a neighbourhood buddy system to support communities in need. The NUS Day of Service has benefitted more than 20,000 beneficiaries locally and regionally since it was launched in 2016. In 2020, we continued to reach out in various ways despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

nussuNUSSU Rag & Flag
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    raised for charities per year on average

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    raised since 2000

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    charity programmes receive funding on average

CY2016 – CY2020

day-of-service-iconNUS Day of Service
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    participants every year

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    beneficiaries every year on average

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    activities held over the last five years

CY2016 – CY2020

day-of-service-iconNUS Day of Service
  • Beneficiaries

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* Scaled-down activities and participation due to COVID-19


A calling for community service

Ms Francesca Wah knows too well the struggle for families when they have to choose between putting food on the table and bettering their children’s education. Growing up, she had to rely on government handouts and struggled in school.

The Arts and Social Sciences alumna, who studied at NUS on a scholarship, started the non-profit BLESS (Bringing Love to Every Single Soul) to bring reading programmes closer to children from lower-income families. BLESS has also created a curriculum dedicated to the needs of these children, who are often still learning to read rather than already reading for knowledge. BLESS has helped more than 6,000 children in the last six years. Francesca received the Singapore Youth Award for her work.

My time in NUS exposed me to different perspectives and constantly challenged me to think critically. I remember my social work professor saying that there are plenty of resources, but a lack of coordination of these resources in the community. When I took the leap of faith to set up BLESS, my social work professors were very supportive. They even guided and mentored me. They invested their time in me, and I will continue to invest my time to lift others up.

Ms Francesca Wah

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Class of 2014
Co-founder, BLESS

Leveraging our resources for good

Knowledge, paired with empathy, translates into action for the greater good. From providing health screening to the elderly to building sustainable systems for charities, our students support the vulnerable in many meaningful ways.

Providing health screening for the community

As part of the Neighbourhood Health Service (NHS), NUS medical students have been carrying out free health screenings for the local community since 2008. Targeting elderly residents in rental housing, the programme helps to identify possible concerns and diseases early.

Another annual programme, the Public Health Service, champions health promotion and awareness for the public. It offers free health screening for chronic diseases and cancers, geriatric screening, oral health screening and doctor consultations. Participants are linked up with local health and social support systems, and their progress is checked thereafter.

“Speaking to the residents who tell me that they mark the date in their calendar and come every year has made me realise what a difference NHS is making to their lives. However, the residents who really leave an impact are those who have lost faith in the healthcare system. In these cases, I have learnt that they need someone to genuinely listen and empathise with them, and it is a bonus when we are able to convince them to come down and give the screening a chance. It really brings to life the quote, ‘To cure sometimes, to care often and to comfort always’.”

Ms Kwong Shuen

Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Class of 2023
Committee Member, NHS (2019)

healthNeighbourhood Health Service
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    residents screened

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    different services

CY2008 – CY2020

Supporting the migrant worker community

NUS students have been building connections with the migrant worker community in Singapore through a variety of projects, including:

  • Students 4 Migrants: An initiative undertaken by law students to educate domestic helpers and construction workers in Singapore on their legal rights and improve their access to justice. Efforts include drafting a handbook of legal information for migrant workers, as well as organising free legal clinics. Since 2019, more than 350 participants have attended its 20 legal education workshops.
  • Project We Are One: The befriending initiative by the NUS Students’ Community Service Club reached out to affected migrant workers in dormitories during the COVID-19 pandemic. They appealed for donations and boosted the spirits of those under quarantine through specially-recorded videos.
“I have learnt that it does not take a lot to start to understand and appreciate the migrant worker community better. I want to put more effort in creating a more inclusive society for them.”

Mr Jaymond Tan

Faculty of Science, Class of 2020
Project Director, We Are One (2019, 2020)


Championing the green cause

NUS SAVE (Students Against Violation of the Earth) seeks to bring about a greener campus by advocating purposeful structural and behavioural change. NUS SAVE’s efforts include pushing for green canteens, reducing textile waste and consumption, and raising awareness of our biodiversity. Some flagship initiatives include:

  • Project Box Project Tumbler, launched in 2010, incentivises canteen patrons to bring reusable containers for takeaways. More than 105,000 disposable containers and 40,000 disposable cups have been averted to date.
  • Plastic Bag Tax imposes a 10-cent tax for each plastic bag used in all campus canteens. The money collected is then channelled to the SAVE Sustainability Fund to support student projects focusing on the environment.

We aim to nurture dynamic global leaders and transform lives for the better, empowering our students to create greater social impact in areas such as healthcare, environmental sustainability and community development.

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* Programmes suspended due to COVID-19

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Seeding happiness

Sa’bai, which means “happiness” in Khmer, is a fitting name for a student-led medical mission that has touched the lives of over 3,000 people. Every December, students from the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine carry out health screenings and acute clinics for underprivileged villagers in Phnom Penh, providing support for those requiring investigative procedures or further treatment.

Project Lokun, also carried out in Cambodia, is organised by the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in collaboration with the University of Puthisastra’s Faculty of Health Sciences. It seeks to reconnect Cambodian villagers to their nation’s healthcare system and improve their health-seeking behaviours.

Project Sa’Bai has built a strong network over the years. This solid foundation enables us to shift our focus towards other initiatives that go above and beyond running clinics. For example, the CARE Programme, where Cambodian students conduct routine visits to local villagers with chronic conditions. This ensures that follow-up care is provided to these patients without relying on our presence in Cambodia. This programme is unique to Project Sa’Bai and is something that I firmly believe in as it truly comports with the idea of continuity and sustainability.

Mr Ding Heng

Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, Class of 2022
Project Leader, Project Sa’Bai (2018, 2019)

Lending expertise to boost regional development

Our faculty members are involved in advancing education and research by fostering meaningful collaborations, as well as exchanging knowledge and best practices, with our regional counterparts. Some of our contributions include advancing scientific education in the region and supporting biodiversity and wildlife conservation in the region.

  • Scientific education: The three-year TFI-NUS Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Programme for University educators in ASEAN (2018 – 2021) is led by the Faculty of Science and funded by Temasek Foundation. It seeks to benefit more than 400 educators and scientists from ASEAN, developing their capabilities in curriculum design, pedagogy innovation and research management. NUS professors also mentor academic staff from ASEAN universities to become master trainers, who will in turn guide their junior faculty or graduate students.
“The Symposium gave me a global view on how STEM-based education can help students, educators, universities, and policymakers cope with new challenges in the job markets and how to harness the power of disruptive technologies to benefit us. However, what I like more are the practical tricks on how to understand the thinking process of students in the classroom and the best approaches to inspire them to want to learn.”

Associate Professor Chittanon Buranachai

Prince of Songkla University

  • Biodiversity and wildlife conservation: Researchers from the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum at NUS embarked on a 5-year initiative with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation in 2015. RIMBA-Sarawak (Research for Intensified Management of Bio-Rich Areas of Sarawak) aims to use the information gathered from field expeditions to improve wildlife conservation management and build capacity in this area. It also raises awareness of the pressing need to protect our existing ecosystem and ensure the survival of wildlife.