UB School of Management celebrates milestone anniversary in Singapore

UB will graduate 447 undergraduates in Singapore on Thursday marking the 20th anniversary of UB’s undergraduate programs at the Singapore Institute of Management. Photos courtesy of the Office of International Education


Published July 10, 2024

“As we commemorate this 20-year milestone, I look forward to celebrating our students and our partnership for many years to come. ”
UB President Satish K. Tripathi

When 447 undergraduates receive their bachelor’s degrees from UB during ceremonies on Thursday in Singapore, it will be more than just an achievement for the students.

It will mark a milestone for UB, as well.

UB is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its undergraduate programs at the Singapore Institute of Management, located on the island nation more than 9,400 miles away from Buffalo. The program, known as UB-SIM, has produced nearly 6,500 UB alumni over the course of its two decades – an impressive tenure for an American university offering degree programs abroad.

“For nearly 30 years — starting with our executive MBA program in the mid-1990s — UB and SIM have fostered deep ties based on mutual respect and shared values," said President Satish K. Tripathi.

“Emboldened by this strong foundation, we have achieved ever-more ambitious goals with our growing number of graduates contributing their disciplinary knowledge to the world. As we commemorate this 20-year milestone, I look forward to celebrating our students and our partnership for many years to come.”

The celebration will continue through the weekend with the UB Alumni Global Reunion Conference, an inaugural event that will reunite UB alumni from around the world and feature several university guest speakers visiting from Buffalo.

“We are delighted to be celebrating this milestone anniversary, which sets the UB-SIM Program apart as the longest-running U.S. program of its kind in Singapore,” says Nojin Kwak, vice provost for international education. “We are very proud of the enduring success of our partnership with SIM, and look forward to continuing that collaboration in the future.”

UB abroad

UB-SIM is hosted by the Singapore Institute of Management, a private institution that partners with 10 universities from around the world to bring more higher-education opportunities to Singapore. UB is the only American institution partnering with SIM.

Their relationship dates back to 1996 when former School of Management Dean John Thomas arranged with the Singapore Institute of Management for UB to provide an executive MBA program.

The success of the EMBA partnership led to UB and SIM collaborating on the delivery of UB undergraduate programs at the SIM campus, beginning in 2004 when UB launched the bachelor of science in business administration at SIM. This was UB’s first undergraduate program delivered entirely overseas.

“At the time, UB was well known in Southeast Asia and Singapore was developing international partnerships to expand its higher education capacity,” explains John Wood, senior associate vice provost for international education. “UB had a lot of experience working with partners in Asia to deliver our own degree programs.” 

More programs, more students

As UB expanded degree programs in Singapore, enrollment grew. What began with an enrollment of 50 is now around 1,300 students, who share the campus with those attending SIM’s own programs and those of its other partner institutions.

 “The majority of UB students there are from Singapore,” says Sherene Milizia, UB’s director of overseas and intercultural programs. “But you also have students from within the region – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam up to China and India, as well.”

UB now offers seven degree programs in Singapore: business administration, communication, psychology, sociology, economics, international trade and geographic information science. 

Campus life

The SIM campus, where the UB programs are delivered, is about a quarter of the size of the campus in Amherst and stretches more vertically than horizontally. It’s clean and modern and tropical, with a beautiful atrium, long verandas, spacious courtyards and four buildings covering four city blocks.

At UB-SIM, classes are taught by visiting professors from Buffalo, faculty hired by UB specifically for Singapore and local instructors hired by SIM and approved by UB. The students typically attend fall, spring and summer, making time to degree as little as three years. UB-SIM has its own student council and True Blue pride is evident based on the UB merchandise worn around campus, says Kevin McKelvey, resident director of UB-SIM.

“Even though the enrollment of the UB program is much smaller than the two biggest programs – University of London and RMIT of Australia – the UB students are the most visible cohort on campus solely on account of their wardrobe,” McKelvey says.

Bound for Buffalo

Bryan Thng, a recent graduate of UB-SIM, knew little about UB’s campuses in Amherst and Buffalo before taking advantage of “UB Bound.” The program allows students of UB-SIM to begin their studies in Singapore, but spend a semester or two in Buffalo, typically in their last year.

It took about a month for Thng to get used to the sprawling layout of the North Campus and winter was an adjustment. But he has enjoyed watching the seasons change and is grateful for the opportunities that Buffalo has offered, including time as a teaching assistant and traveling to Costa Rica with the School of Management.

“These experiences wouldn’t have been possible without coming to Buffalo,” Thng says.