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An illustrious partnership is ending

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SUTD's seven-year education agreement with MIT will not be renewed, but school believes its foundation is strong

The Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) will not be renewing its education agreement with the illustrious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the institution that helped it develop a distinctive curriculum to nurture graduates able to go beyond book smarts.

The seven-year partnership that began in 2010 is drawing to a close, after seeing two cohorts of SUTD students graduate with stellar job prospects.

SUTD will continue partnering MIT in research.

But the Singapore university will lose some of the branding associated with an institution dubbed the world's best engineering school.

It will not be able to use the tagline "established in collaboration with MIT" and the opportunities for student exchanges at MIT will lessen.

The dual master's programme and the post-doctoral programmes which enrol a small number of students will also be discontinued.

SUTD president Thomas Magnanti said that SUTD and MIT "had actually accomplished more than they had set out to do".

He said: "The curriculum is well in place and the SUTD faculty have been teaching the curriculum, so there is really no need to extend the education component of the agreement with MIT."

He admitted that the loss of branding "might" affect admissions, but pointed to a survey showing that a majority of students picked the university because of its design-centric curriculum and hands-on approach to learning - not the MIT link.


Asked about the prospect of fewer student exchanges with MIT, he said SUTD is working to expand opportunities for students to go on overseas programmes at other universities.

Currently, 75 per cent of its students go on such programmes.

"Other than that, they are still going to get the same MIT curriculum and it is going to be taught in the same way," Professor Magnanti said, adding that SUTD is in the process of developing its own master's programmes.

SUTD officials declared the partnership a "major success", noting that over 90 per cent of SUTD's courses in four specialisations - architecture, engineering product development, engineering systems and information systems technology - were developed by MIT.

MIT had also helped in the recruitment and development of SUTD's faculty.

And 270 SUTD students got to attend educational programmes at MIT, including the summer Global Leadership Programme where they worked with MIT students on large design projects, like building an electric car.

Applications to SUTD have been rising 16 per cent year on year since its inception.

SUTD graduates are also sought after by employers.

Two cohorts have graduated, with more than 90 per cent landing jobs within six months of completing their studies.

A key feature of the MIT-SUTD research partnership is the establishment of an International Design Centre, which aims to become the world's premier hub for technologically intensive design.

Singapore University of Technology and DesignCardesign