SMU outlines plans for new 24/7 facility

EVEN as Singapore Management University (SMU)'s revamped campus takes shape, it is drawing up plans for another building to optimise degree education for millennials who learn on the go.

The university is in the process of seeking the necessary approvals, but SMU president Arnoud De Meyer said the building, which it hopes to build by 2019, will have classrooms that encourage active and collaborative learning both online and off-line.

It will be open 24 hours, seven days a week, and the facilities will include sleeping pods to allow students to work overnight on projects.

Professor De Meyer also gave an update on SMU's revamped campus plan during an interview with The Straits Times, saying that most of the new facilities including the law school, the 240-seat amphitheatre and three-storey fitness centre, will be ready next year.

As for the new building, it will be named SMU-X after a new programme in teaching and learning that the university piloted last year.

Students in the programme take on projects from industries and organisations. A public policy management course, for instance, may get students to work with a social welfare agency to draw up programmes for disadvantaged families.

Prof De Meyer said the SMU-X programme was a hit with the 600 students who had a taste of it last year. This year it has been expanded to allow up to 2,000 students to take the SMU-X courses.

This means every undergraduate will be able to take up at least one SMU-X course over their four years of study. Some 150 companies have come in as industry partners.

"Students work on projects brought in by industry partners. So they are immediately applying what they learn in solving real-life problems," said Prof De Meyer.

Professors and industry mentors guide students through projects. Students earn credits from the semester-long courses and are graded on their participation and the final outcome of the project.

Currently, the SMU-X courses are conducted at the conserved red-and-white building in Stamford Road, which was home to the flagship MPH bookstore until 2003.

Prof De Meyer said the facilities in the three-storey building were specially designed for the way millennial students learn.

Students were involved in the planning and design of the rooms. They held focus group discussions, conducted surveys and went overseas to look at facilities in other campuses.

The White Room is a favourite with students for brainstorming sessions. The walls, floors and even the table can be used for scribbling ideas.

SMU's facilities have already proven to be a draw for full-time national serviceman Darren Lim, 20, who will be entering SMU next year to study business. He said he picked the university over another local institution partly because of its "cool city campus".

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