Residential colleges are among the oldest forms of academic community, and there are literally hundreds around the world.

At many of the best universities, like Oxford and Cambridge in the UK and Yale and Harvard in the US, residential colleges form the base upon which undergraduate life and education is built and sustained.

Colleges have been less common in Asia, however, and NUS is among the relatively few Asian universities to establish a college system.

Our colleges do have local antecedents, however: NUS itself resulted from the merger of two colleges – Raffles College and King Edward VII College of Medicine.

Globally, the NUS residential colleges are also among the first to be founded in the 21st century, with the first two – Tembusu and Cinnamon – opening their doors in 2011.

The Tembusu (Fagraea fragrans) is a large evergreen tree in the family Gentianaceae. It is native to Southeast Asia. Its trunk is dark brown, with deeply fissured bark, looking somewhat like a bittergourd. It grows in an irregular shape from 10 to 25m high. Its leaves are light green and oval in shape. Its yellowish flowers have a distinct fragrance and the fruits of the tree are bitter tasting red berries, which are eaten by birds and fruit bats.