SIM University (UniSIM), Singapore's 4th university dedicated to providing upgrading opportunities for working professionals and adult learners, graduated its first batch of students on 25 September. His Excellency, President S R Nathan was present as the university's Patron and Guest-of-Honour. UniSIM's newly appointed Chancellor, Professor Cham Tao Soon presided at the ceremony. Professor Cham is also the Chairman of UniSIM's Board of Trustees.
Formed in April 2005, the university took over a student enrolment of about 6,000 and about 40 academic programmes of the former SIM Open University Centre, which was part of the Singapore Institute of Management. More than 75% of the students who originally pursued a British qualification, chose to graduate with a UniSIM degree when they were given the option. The university's first two admission exercises last year saw 2,600 students admitted, bringing its current enrolment to 6,300. The university had also increased the number of programmes offered to more than 60.
"I am honoured to have participated in the development and realization of UniSIM, and to be involved now also as Chancellor of SIM University. The strength of UniSIM lies in its unwavering focus on serving the needs of adult learners to help them achieve their goals of attaining a degree and better employability. I am confident that UniSIM is poised for greater heights of achievement in the years ahead," said Professor Cham Tao Soon, Chancellor and Chairman of SIM University Board of Trustees.
"This is a significant milestone in our short history as we celebrate with our first cohort of graduands receiving the UniSIM degree. Their success, despite juggling work, family and academic demands, is well-deserved - and we are proud of them. As we look ahead, SIM University will continue to strengthen its academic and teaching capabilities and resources to be the premier adult learning university in Singapore and the region," said Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President of SIM University.
The first batch of students who chose a UniSIM degree graduated from thirty-one degree programmes from the School of Arts and Social Sciences, School of Business and School of Science and Technology. The majority of them, or 279 of them, were from the School of Science and Technology; 123 from the School of Arts and Social Sciences; and 21 from the School of Business. Eight were awarded first class honours.
The flexible and open mode of learning had allowed the graduands to pursue their degrees at their own pace. The average length of time taken to complete the degree programmes was about five and a half years, with a few completing their degrees within two years. The longest time taken was 12 years.
True to its philosophy of being an open, flexible and inclusive university, its pioneering cohort was made up of working professionals from all levels and walks of life. Out of the 423 graduands, 84% of them provided the university with information on their job levels. Out of this group, 65% of the cohort held non-managerial professional or technical executive positions in their companies, 13% held junior management positions, 12% were non-executives, 7% held middle management positions, 2% senior to top management positions and 1% were students.
Close to half or 48% of the cohort was from the 31 to 40 year old age range. Those aged 20 to 30 years made up 36% and those aged 41 to 50 years formed 13% of the cohort. Three percent (3%) of the cohort were above 50 years old. More than half of them had up to 5 years of working experience, 21% had 6 to 10 years, and 27% had 11 or more years of working experience.
Seventy six percent (76%) of the graduands held a diploma qualification and the rest possessed GCE ‘A’ levels at the point of entry into their programmes. There were a small number who already held bachelor’s or higher-level degrees when they entered UniSIM.
At the ceremony, the university mace was unveiled for the first time. Just before the ceremony ended, the 1120 graduands and guests were treated to a solo rendition of the song entitled “Onwards and Beyond” performed by current first year UniSIM psychology student, Mr Syed Raizal Hamid Al-Edrus, 31, and specially composed for UniSIM by Babes Conde. The song’s lyrics were written by A/Prof Neelam Aggarwal, Dean, School of Arts and Social Sciences, UniSIM.
Some of the distinguished guests who were present at the ceremony to celebrate the occasion with UniSIM were: Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister of State for Education, MOE; RADM (NS) Lui Tuck Yew, Minister of State for Education, MOE; Prof Christopher Whitaker, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business) RMIT University; Prof Linda Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Curriculum & Awards), The Open University of the United Kingdom; Prof Er Meng Hwa, Acting Provost, Nanyang Technological University; and Mr Choo Thiam Siew, President, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
UniSIM also offers an undergraduate and a postgraduate degree in Chinese Language and Literature with the Beijing Normal University. The graduation ceremonies for these two programmes are held separately.