Buddhist College of Singapore Opens New US$26m Campus
Celebrating its 10th anniversary, Buddhist College of Singapore on Saturday unveiled a new S$35 million (US$25.7 million) campus—its first purpose-built premises to accommodate monastic students from around the region.
Buddhist College of Singapore is the only institution in the island state to offer full-time undergraduate and graduate degree programs in Buddhism for monastics. The programs, offered in both English and Mandarin, are run in partnership with Sri Lanka’s University of Kelaniya, and Thailand’s Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University.
Venerable Chuan Sheng, vice-rector of academic affairs, said he believed that students were attracted to the college as one of the few such institutes in the region to offer courses in Chinese and English. “We’re also riding on Singapore’s position as an education hub. It is in a good location,” he added. “We started less well-known, but now we have become well-known among monks in countries such as Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Vietnam.” (The Straits Times)
Housed within the compound of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in central Singapore’s Bishan New Town, the new six-floor campus building, which took more than two years to construct, comes replete with a meditation hall, classrooms and dormitories for 100 students, a gym and basketball court, and administrative offices.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for the campus building on Saturday, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong praised the city-state’s Buddhist community for its contributions to society. “Through their many devotees and temples in Singapore, they help the poor and needy, providing free meals, funding scholarships and bursaries, operating clinics and kidney dialysis centers,” he observed, noting that Buddhist organizations and volunteers also provided counseling at correctional institutions and drug rehabilitation centers. (Channel NewsAsia)
“In Singapore, many different religions live side by side,” Lee noted. “We accommodate and adjust to one another, we respect each other’s beliefs and practices, we build bridges and mutual trust, and thus we all live harmoniously together regardless of race and religion.” (The Straits Times)
Students attend Buddhist College of Singapore under scholarships that cover lodging, food, and textbook expenses. Since the college accepted its first monastic students in August 2006, 70 have graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees and 11 with Master of Arts in Buddhist Studies. There are plans to establish a research institute at the college and to introduce more exchange programs with other Buddhist institutions in the region.
In 2014, the college opened its doors to female monastics for the first time. The campus for nuns, at Poh Ern Shih temple on Singapore’s West Coast takes in 45 students every two years. “We want to expand the college to light up the world through education on wisdom and compassion for both male and female monastics,” said the monastery's abbot, Ven. Sik Kwang Sheng, at the time. (AsiaOne)
Singapore is home to a diverse, multicultural society, which is reflected in the breadth of the religions and spiritual traditions observed and practiced there. A 2014 analysis by the Washington, DC-based Pew Research Center concluded that Singapore was the world's most religiously diverse nation. According to census data for 2015, Buddhism has the largest following in the city-state, with 33 per cent of the population claiming affiliation. Almost 19 per cent of Singaporeans identify as Christians, with Islam at 14 per cent, Taoism and folk religions at 11 per cent, and Hinduism representing 5 per cent of the population.
Buddhist College of Singapore launches new $35 million building for monastic students (The Straits Times)
Buddhist College opens new $35m building (The Straits Times)
PM Lee pays tribute to Buddhist community at BCS campus opening (Channel NewsAsia)
Buddhist college to admit nuns for the first time (AsiaOne)
Buddhist College of Singapore
Singapore Buddhist Free Clinic—Ensuring the Welfare of the Sick and Needy (Buddhistdoor Global)