Can Imperial withdraw from the agreement with NTU?

This is a long term strategic arrangement for both parties. However, the collaboration agreement does allow either party to terminate the agreement in certain, defined circumstances. The termination clauses include agreed actions and contingency arrangements to allow students to complete their education with the minimum of disruption in the case of termination by either party.

Has Imperial put money into this venture?

The medical school will be delivered at no cost to Imperial College.

How is Imperial’s collaboration with NTU managed?

The collaboration is overseen by the Faculty Singapore Board, which comprises of senior academics and executives from the Faculty of Medicine and the wider College. The Board is chaired by Professor Jenny Higham, Senior-Vice Dean at LKCMedicine, and Vice-Dean and Director of Education at the Imperial Faculty of Medicine, who has oversight of all educational matters relating to the collaboration and is responsible for all aspects of the medical school which Imperial has committed to deliver. A small collaboration office (the London Office) has been established on the South Kensington Campus, which works day-to-day on Imperial commitments to the development and continuing operation of LKCMedicine. The London Office oversees both curriculum development and quality assurance of the school.

How is the new medical school governed?

LKCMedicine has a Governing Board, whose membership includes two representatives each from Imperial and NTU, as well as representatives from the Ministries of Health and Education and the primary clinical training partner, the National Healthcare Group. The Governing Board receives reports from a School Management Board and Academic Affairs Committee, which oversee the academic and administrative management of the school.

Is this the first step to Imperial opening a fully-fledged campus overseas?

Like most universities, Imperial has multiple overseas links through its research and education activities and will continue to foster these. While it has been an exciting step for Imperial to contribute to the development of an undergraduate medicine course that will be delivered overseas, and Imperial will remain involved in the continuing operation LKCMedicine, there are no plans to open a campus outside the UK.

What are the funding arrangements for the new medical school?

LKCMedicine is funded primarily by NTU, a publicly-funded university. As well as tuition fees from students, the school attracts additional monies from other donors and research funders in the same way as other medical schools and universities. Most notably, in 2011, the Lee Foundation, a charitable foundation in Singapore for the advancement of education, medicine and cultural activities, made a gift of S$150 million towards the new medical school. Enhanced Singapore Government matching raised the total donation to S$400 million. In 2013, the school received a further donation of S$20 million from the Toh Kian Chui Foundation, which has gone towards the establishment of a Professorship, student awards and scholarships, as well as education and research support.

What is the Singapore Medical School collaboration?

Imperial College London (Imperial) was approached by the Singapore Ministries of Education and Health in 2009 for assistance in setting up a new medical school in Singapore. Their objective was to ensure that the supply of highly qualified and suitably skilled doctors in Singapore was sufficient for future needs. In particular, they recognised that their ageing population will have an increased need for healthcare when living with long term medical conditions, which require specialist approaches. Nanyang Technological University (NTU), a publicly funded university, is Imperial’s partner in jointly managing and operating school

The new medical school was announced by Prime Minister Mr Lee Hsien Loong at his National Day Rally speech on 29 August 2010. The agreement was officially signed by the two universities on 29 October 2010.

On 4 January Nanyang Technological University announced that the Lee Foundation, a charitable foundation in Singapore for the advancement of education, medicine and cultural activities, had made a gift of $150 million to the new Singapore medical school with half of the sum going directly to needy students. Thanks to the Singapore government’s pledge to provide enhanced matching to endowed donations to the new medical school, NTU will receive a gift amounting to $400 million. In honour of this gift, the School was named the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine).

LKCMedicine operates as an autonomous school within NTU. Imperial is represented on the Governing Board and School Management Board. LKCMedicine admitted its first students in August 2013 with an inaugural cohort of 54; the student intake has risen to a total of 330 as of August 2017.

Who are Nanyang Technological University?

NTU is a research-intensive university with globally acknowledged strengths in science and engineering. The university was established in 1955. Today, NTU comprises of the Colleges of Business, Engineering, Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and Science; an Interdisciplinary Graduate; three autonomous entities: the National Institute of Education, the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies,  the Earth Observatory of Singapore and the Singapore on Environmental Life Sciences Engineering; various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute, Energy Research Institute @ NTU and the Institute on Asian Consumer Insight; and now the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

NTU has 3,800 members of teaching and research staff, from over 70 countries, and provides a high-quality education to more than 23,000 undergraduates and 10,000 graduate students.  

NTU has been climbing in the Times Higher Education rankings, from 174th in the world in 2010-11, to 54th in 2016-17. NTU also features at number two in the Times Higher Education’s 100 Under 50 (ranking of the top 100 universities under 50 years old). 

Why did Imperial chose to become involved in a collaboration with NTU to develop and operate a medical school in Singapore?

The collaboration with NTU has provided a unique opportunity to work with a high quality, globally recognised, science and technology-focused institution to develop and implement an innovative curriculum for a five-year medical degree, incorporating the best of the current Imperial course and adapting it for the Singapore healthcare system. NTU is funding the development of innovative methods for teaching medicine, building on Imperial’s existing experience and models, which could be incorporated into Imperial’s UK medicine course in the future.

Only a few prospective Singaporean medical students are able to be admitted to study at Imperial or other UK medical schools due to a General Medical Council cap of 7.5% on international students attending the UK’s schools. The new venture with NTU allows Imperial to teach medicine to a greater number of Singapore’s talented students.

To undertake the work required to develop the curriculum and manage LKCMedicine, new jobs and new opportunities for current Imperial staff, funded by Singapore, have been created.  The partnership also provides potential to develop other links with NTU, such as research collaborations. Many of the LKCMedicine Faculty have honorary appointments with Imperial to facilitate this.

Why is NTU a suitable partner for Imperial?

NTU has always shared the vision that Imperial has followed since the 1990s to bring together technological, scientific and engineering disciplines with medicine. NTU, like Imperial, is recognised for its excellence in science and engineering and the two universities have already collaborated successfully on various research projects. A number of Imperial alumni hold senior academic positions at NTU.

Opportunities for Imperial staff

Opportunities for Imperial staff

Are there opportunities for support staff and staff outside the Faculty of Medicine?

During the development phase, there was certainly much involvement from staff outside of the Faculty of Medicine. Now that the collaboration has entered its operational phase, there will be less need for involvement by Imperial members of staff outside of the Faculty, though members of staff with expertise in certain areas, particular in quality assurance, will continue to be consulted and there will be representation from some College departments on the Faculty Singapore Board. The programme will undergo period reviews in 2016-17 and 2019-20, which will involve colleagues outside of the Faculty. 

Could Imperial require me to work in the new medical school out in Singapore?

No, it is not compulsory for any current member of staff to work at LKCMedicine. While input has been required from a number of areas across the College to assist with developing LKCMedicine, this has not been permitted to compromise Imperial’s normal activities and extra staff have been employed as appropriate. During the operational phase, it will continue to be the case that further support may be requested from Imperial members of staff where this does not prevent them from completing their own duties. Secondment opportunities may be available, and appropriate back-fill supported, but it will not be compulsory for staff to take up these opportunities. If additional support is required that cannot be accommodated by existing members of staff or staff wishing to take up secondment opportunities, additional staff will be employed. 

Has the foundation of the new medical school in Singapore created new research opportunities?

The initial thrust of Imperial’s involvement in the collaboration has been to develop and run a first class medical school. However, now that the collaboration has entered the operational phase, Imperial and NTU are considering opportunities for collaborative and Singapore-based research over the years. Seed funding for research in Singapore has been agreed.

If I were permitted to undertake a secondment in the new medical school, would UK or Singapore employment laws apply?

Employees electing to visit Singapore as part of the collaboration or to undertake a short secondment at LKCMedicine will remain employed by Imperial, be bound by their regulations and will return to their existing positions. They will, however, need to abide by the laws and regulations of Singapore when working there.

Current Imperial employees who are successful in applying for full-time employment at LKCMedicine will in the future be employed by NTU in Singapore.

I’m a member of staff in the Faculty of Medicine – what opportunities would be available to me in the new medical school in Singapore?

A number of existing Imperial employees within the Faculty of Medicine, and especially the School of Medicine, both administrative and academic, have been involved in the development of LKCMedicine, ensuring that relevant parts of Imperial’s undergraduate medicine course are incorporated into the curriculum at LKCMedicine and are adapted for Singapore in collaboration with NTU and clinical colleagues in that country, and supporting LKCMedicine in policy development and the establishment of procedures for quality management and assurance.

Now that the collaboration has entered its operational phase, there will be less need for involvement by Imperial members of staff. However, some opportunities will remain for curriculum development of Phases 2 and 3 (clinical years) of the programme. The programme will undergo period reviews in 2016-17 and 2019-20, which will involve members of staff from Imperial. As the partnership continues to mature, there may also be opportunities for Imperial staff to engage with staff at LKCMedicine on collaborative research projects.

New positions advertised at LKCMedicine may also be of interest to existing staff at Imperial.

Opportunities for Imperial College London students

Opportunities for Imperial College London students

Does the new medical school in Singapore offer any opportunities for postgraduate study?

The emphasis of the new medical school initially is on undergraduate education. However, there may be scope in the future for the postgraduate collaborative arrangements, which are already in place with NTU and with other academic and research institutions and universities in Singapore, to grow as a result of Imperial’s involvement in the medical school.

I’m a medical student – will there be opportunities for me to spend some of my course at the new medical school in Singapore?

LKCMedicine has opened up an array of exciting opportunities for both students and staff. Since 2012-13, groups of Imperial final year MBBS students have completed their medical elective in Singapore, arranged through LKCMedicine. This will remain an option for future medical students at Imperial. Exchange opportunities between LKCMedicine and Imperial second year students were introduced in 2015-16, as well as an elective programme at Imperial for LCKMedicine students in 2016-17.

About the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

About the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine

Are students registered with Imperial or with NTU?

Students are registered with NTU for admission to LKCMedicine and receive a joint degree from both Imperial and NTU upon successful completion of the programme. The LKCMedicine MBBS degree has been approved by the Senate of both universities and by the Singapore Medical Council. Singapore government rules require graduates to work for a period of time after graduation in the Singapore health system.

As the LKCMedicine programme is not a sole Imperial award and is delivered outside of the UK, it has not been accredited by the UK General Medical Council. It is not considered a UK Primary Medical Qualification and will not entitle the holder to provisional registration with the GMC. Furthermore, since the course has been undertaken outside the European Union, graduates of LKCMedicine will have no automatic right to practice in the EU. Any students wishing to practice in the UK upon completion of their Singapore bond will need to follow the registration process for graduates from outside the UK and European Economic Area.

Could the same type of teaching and learning be implemented at Imperial?

LKCMedicine is one of the first medical schools in the world to abolish lectures in favour of Team-Based Learning. LKCMedicine is fortunate enough to have been in the enviable position of having designed its facilities to scratch and have therefore been able to create bespoke learning studios with state of the art facilities. Imperial College School of Medicine has much larger cohort sizes (300+) and teaches in traditional large-scale lectures and seminar rooms which present challenges when trying to teach in the TBL format. We are, however, trialling the use of tutorial-based approaches, where it is possible in smaller cohorts, for example during the year five pathology lecture series, and introducing more interactive elements throughout the programme.

Do the students of LKCMedicine spend time at Imperial?

Exchange opportunities between Imperial and LKCMedicine second year MBBS students were introduced in 2015-16. From August 2017, a group of LKCMedicine final year students will be offered the opportunity to undertake their medical elective placement at Imperial.

How is LKC different to the other Singapore medical schools?

Prior to the formation of LKCMedicine, there was only one medical school offering an MBBS programme in Singapore, the Yong Lee Lin (YLL) School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS). The YLL MBBS programme involves two years of pre-clinical training, followed by three years of clinical practice. Since 2007, NUS has also offered a four-year graduate MD programme in partnership with Duke University, USA. The Duke-NUS MD is a graduate-entry medical programme, for graduates with a bachelor’s degree in any discipline, and is modelled on a US medical curriculum, with clinical practice from the second year.

The LKCMedicine MBBS programme is one of the first in the world to adopt Team-Based Learning in place of lectures, and to make such extensive use of technology enhanced learning, which sets it apart both from the YLL and Duke-NUS programmes.

How many students are admitted each year?

The inaugural cohort comprised 54 students, and the second cohort, who enrolled in 2014, comprised 78 students. The most recent cohort to enrol in 2016, comprised 108 students. This will continue to incrementally rise over the first five to eight years to a minimum of 150 new students per annum, although numbers are likely to be higher.

Is the course open to students from outside of Singapore?

Whilst a small number of places are open to school leavers from other countries the overwhelming majority of students are Singaporean.

What is team-based learning?

Team-based learning (TBL) begins with students preparing for the class by going through learning materials which include specially made iBooks and pre-recorded lectures. Once in class, students take an individual quiz based on the assigned learning material. Immediately after this, students discuss and answer the same quiz with their team. A TBL facilitator and content expert is present to address any questions and concerns from the class. In the final stage, student teams engage in a series of Application Exercises that reinforce key concepts and give students insight into the authentic problems that doctors may encounter. Teams discuss each Application Exercise and come to a decision on the best answers for each of the questions. Every student is expected to defend and debate on the reasons for their teams’ answers. In this final stage, expert faculty discuss and evaluate the teams’ answers and conclude by addressing the learning outcomes achieved for the TBL session. Throughout the day, students are guided by a TBL facilitator and content experts.

What is the curriculum for the undergraduate medicine course?

The five-year course aims to lay a firm foundation in the basic medical sciences while providing a high-quality clinical experience. The curriculum emphasises the clinical relevance of the basic sciences and includes patient exposure from the beginning of the programme. The programme content is designed around three themes: the scientific basis of medicine; clinical management and patient-centred care; and healthcare delivery and professional standards.

The five-year programme is divided into three phases: Phase 1 (years 1 and 2) consists of systems-based teaching blocks that emphasise the relevance of the scientific basis of medicine to clinical practice; Phase 2 (years 3 and 4) involves clinical rotations in hospitals and polyclinics in a range of specialties; and Phase 3 (year 5) begins with a 13-week period for students to complete an Elective and a Selective, followed by the final examinations, and finishing with a 16-week period of supervised apprenticeship or ‘Rotational Doctoring’, which will include attachments in surgery, medicine, family medicine and specialties.

Phase 1 teaching makes use of team-based learning, laboratory practicals, e-Learning, simulations and clinical presentations.

What quality assurance processes are in place to ensure that the course meets the standard of other Imperial degrees?

In addition to the close involvement of Imperial in the development and implementation of the curriculum, and the recruitment of top faculty and students, the school has signed up to Imperial’s robust quality assurance procedures. The course falls under the regulations of the Quality Assurance Agency and has to conform to any local quality assurance requirements imposed by the Singapore Medical Council, NTU, the new medical school itself or the Higher Education Quality Assurance Section of the Higher Education Division, Ministry of Education (MOE), in Singapore. Imperial has worked with LKCMedicine to develop a set of quality assurance and management procedures, which fulfil all Imperial and NTU quality assurance requirements. These procedures include processes for approval of curriculum changes, for receiving and responding to student feedback, standard annual monitoring and external examiner regulations, as well as provision for periodic reviews during the fourth year of operation and the seventh year of operation (the second year of qualified practice for students from the first cohort), and a programme evaluation in the ninth year of operation (five years after the first periodic review).

When were the first students admitted?

The first cohort of MBBS students to join LKCMedicine enrolled in August 2013. LKCMedicine has just admitted its second cohort of 78 MBBS students.

In addition to the MBBS students, in August 2014 twelve students started their PhD under the supervision of professors from LKCMedicine and other schools in NTU, such as School of Biological Sciences and School of Materials Science and Engineering. The areas of research that these students will pursue are aligned with several of LKCMedicine’s research themes - Dermatology and Skin Biology; Infectious Disease; and Metabolic Disease. The PhD is not awarded jointly with Imperial.

Who is responsible for admissions processes and what admissions criteria are used?

LKCMedicine is responsible for its own admissions process, taking advice from Imperial and governed by the regulations of Imperial's Senate and those  of NTU. Minimum entry criteria have been jointly agreed at approved at Imperial and NTU, and the standard of applicants admitted is comparable to the standard of students admitted to the Imperial MBBS programme.

Highlights and next steps

Highlights and next steps

What are the key milestones for the collaboration over the coming years?

Key milestones to come include:

  • Graduation of the first cohort in Summer 2018
  • A second periodic review in 2019-20, which will be able to assess the success of the first graduating cohort, who will have been in work for over a year at that time
  • Programme Evaluation 2021-22

What have been the key highlights of the collaboration so far?

Once the programme had been successfully validated by Imperial and NTU in late 2011, the first key milestone was the completion of the initial teaching facilities, approval of the programme and all associated policies, and delivery of the Year 1 curriculum ahead of enrolment of first cohort. 54 students were welcomed to the programme with an inaugural ‘white coat ceremony’ in August 2013. 

All 54 students in the first cohort have now passed their first-year examinations and progressed into Year 2. The second cohort of 78 students arrived in August 2014.

The current cohorts are taught based at purpose-built facilities at NTU newest campus in the Novena district of Singapore, which was completed in 2013, ahead of the arrival of the first cohort.  Work is now progressing well on the construction of two further facilities, an Experimental Sciences Building at NTU’s main campus and a Clinical Sciences Building at the Novena campus that will be ready in July 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Another key milestone was the recognition of the programme by the Singapore Medical Council, and in 2014, the addition of LKCMedicine to the First Schedule of the Medical Registration Act, which is necessary for graduates to be eligible for medical practice in Singapore.

What stage is the collaboration at?

During the initial development stage, from 2010 until 2013, the focus was on developing the curriculum, employing and training staff to deliver the curriculum and producing new materials for use by the undergraduates. Extensive work took place to ensure that the course was of the highest standard and satisfied the regulations of the two universities and those of the Singapore Medical Council.

Development of the full curriculum has now been completed, nevertheless Imperial continue to assist in streamlining the curriculum following observations in practice and in response to new developments where necessary, and assuring the educational delivery of the School.