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Address by Professor Tan Tai Yong, SUSS President, at SUSS Convocation 2023

Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, President of the Republic of Singapore and Patron of SUSS

Mr Ong Ye Kung, Minister for Health

Mdm Halimah Yacob, SUSS Chancellor

Mr Richard Eu, SUSS Pro-Chancellor

Mrs Mildred Tan, SUSS Chairman

Graduands, Colleagues, Ladies and Gentlemen


This year’s convocation marks a historic occasion for SUSS, as we proudly celebrate the graduation of our largest cohort ever – over 3,000 graduands. Among you are the pioneer batch of our Bachelor of Public Safety and Security Program.

Congratulations and well done to all graduands.  

Your dedication and determination in reaching the pinnacle of your studies today have been remarkable and exemplify the true spirit of SUSS graduates.

SUSS: An Entrepreneurial University for Social Good

As you reflect on the completion of your university journey, many of you will be wondering if you have achieved your purposes and goals that you were seeking from your university education.

All of you would have achieved the primary goal of earning a degree. Hopefully, this will set you up for a productive career, or enhance your capacity in your existing career.

But did you get more than that from the university? How has the university equipped you with the knowledge, perspectives and attributes that will prepare you to face a future that will be volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous all at the same time.

Universities have been around for a long time. Nalanda, in India, considered by historians to be the world’s first residential university was in existence from the 5th century to the 12th century. The oldest university that has not ceased operations since its founding is the University of Bologna, in Italy, founded in 1088. 

Universities, as places of learning, have lasted because they continue to evolve, to make themselves relevant to changing circumstances. The university of the present and future, if they are to thrive, must therefore have the capacity to innovate, meet societal needs, create opportunities, and respond to evolving challenges.

I believe SUSS is such a university – an Entrepreneurial University for Social Good.

What do I mean?

  • First, SUSS champions learning for life which is critical for a world that is changing rapidly. Institutions of learning must play its role in enabling a population to deal with constant change and adaptation. SUSS engenders the spirit of continuous learning, encouraging its students to embrace an open-minded and receptive attitude towards constant improvement. Take the example of Vincent Low, who exited a teaching career of close to 40 years and joined our Juris Doctor programme. Despite re-entering school at a mature age, he has attained commendable achievements, participating in competitions and conferences within the field, and getting appointed as a Class Representative each year since joining SUSS. In his own words, SUSS has afforded him the opportunity to pursue his interest in law to embark on his next phase of life. He is now preparing for his bar examination and certainly an inspiration to all of us.

  • Second, we enable purposeful pursuits. We hope to define success in the university not with a piece of paper, but with the actual realisation of passion and purpose. We want students to explore their passions, discover purpose and contribute meaningfully to their academic pursuits, work, and personal lives. One graduate who marries passion and purpose is Ho Li Shan, our Master of Social Work graduate. Before her studies at SUSS, she was already working with different segments of society – from migrant workers to the youths and the elderly. She was recommended by her mentors and friends to take up the programme at SUSS to acquire applied knowledge and pivot to a field that she is passionate about and called to serve. Even as she had encountered hurdles at work, home and in school throughout her studies, she remained undeterred and succeeded in embarking on this meaningful new career.

  • Third, we honour resilience and determination, essential qualities that empower our students to conquer challenges and achieve their goals in work and life. Learning for life is not merely about learning over the course of a lifetime, it is also about learning how to live a good and meaningful life. Nur Friday, our Early Childhood graduate, epitomises this unyielding tough-minded spirit to succeed in her studies. Over COVID, most of us faced challenges adjusting to the new norm. Coming from a less well-to-do background, Nur Friday had to deal with far more unfavourable physical conditions of her rental home which she shares with her mum and siblings during the Circuit Breaker phase – this involved spending around 10 hours a day of her time studying along the HDB corridor. But she made the most of her circumstances, finding creative ways to study and even forging good relationships with her neighbours over that time.

I know many of you have had to overcome considerable challenges to get to this point, having to balance work, family, and studies.

Your achievements today speak of your ability to learn for life, with purpose, and resilience.

These will position you well in life.


SUSS’s Growth Trajectory to Redefine Education & Success

Today, some people have questioned the value of degrees, arguing that conventional academic qualifications may not align with evolving, adaptable skills demanded by new industries or job roles. Some employers are also re-evaluating their hiring criteria and placing more emphasis on skills, potential and cultural fit.

Amid debates about the value of traditional degrees in a rapidly changing world, SUSS stands as a testament to the enduring relevance of higher education and continuous learning. Our enrolment continues to grow since our inception, and we now welcome nearly 5,000 students each year – full-time and part-time – into our university.

As I said earlier, I would like to see SUSS embarking on a unique growth trajectory as an Entrepreneurial University for Social Good in the face of changing education, work, and environmental demands.

We can be a “disruptor” in this regard.  We will not stand still but will strive to break new frontiers to deliver on our role as a university that inspires learning for life to impact lives, and to redefine the meaning of education and success.

How do we achieve this?

  • First, we must stay closely connected to local and global communities and the larger ecosystem we serve. This will allow us to learn and understand needs, draw fresh insights, ideas and opportunities direct from the industry, enterprise and community. This has enabled a continuous refresh of our curriculum and programmes, including a new curriculum edition launched this year, to keep our education agile and relevant. We also leverage technology to design and deploy teaching and learning tools and platforms like the Digital Andragogy Blueprint for Singapore’s workforce that was co-created by SUSS and Microsoft to enable educators to better leverage digital tools for adult instruction and learning. 

  • Second, despite being the youngest autonomous university in Singapore, we must maintain relevance in offering a unique blend of full-time and part-time studies to a diverse learner base. From small beginnings, we have grown into a recognised university brand known for our lifelong learning education, applied research and impactful partnerships, offering over 90 stackable programmes and close to 1,000 professional courses to learners and working professionals today.

  • Finally, we must leverage our core expertise in social sciences to generate impact in education and research, for industry and society. One such example is our Ngee Ann Kongsi Social Impact Hub, established with the support of Ngee Ann Kongsi, to promote an age-friendly Singapore served by our students, graduates, faculty, and partners.



The road to learning is a long one, and it beckons us towards new vistas of discovery. So, to our graduands, as you leave the university, remember that the university does not leave you. SUSS is now your alma mater; alma mater is a Latin phrase meaning “nourishing and bountiful mother”.  

I hope you will continue to regard SUSS as a source of strength and a beacon of guidance. Your journey as lifelong learners continues, and I welcome you to return to learn with us anytime.

As we celebrate your achievements today, I want to take the opportunity to honour and express our deep gratitude to your families, friends, and everyone at SUSS who has supported you along this journey. Please join me in applauding this group of people.

As you go forth, remember that your legacy will be defined not by the loftiness of titles or size of salaries, but by the lives you touch, the challenges you overcome and the contributions you make in society.

We believe you will all make SUSS proud.

May your future be filled with optimism, purpose, and fulfilment.

Congratulations again, the graduating cohort of 2023.

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