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Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At SIM University Convocation 2014

Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, SIM University At SIM University Convocation 2014 On 8 October 2014, 9.30am, The Grand Hall Of SIM University

Guest-of-Honour, Mr Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister, Co-ordinating Minister for National Security, and Minister for Home Affairs;
Mr Gerard Ee, Chancellor and Chairman, SIM University; 
Members, SIM University Board of Trustees; 
Graduands, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen;

  1. Good morning. Welcome to SIM University Convocation 2014.

Convocation 2014

  1. SIM University (or UniSIM) will see 2,132 graduands presented over five ceremonies. Among them are our pioneer batches of graduands from the Master of Community Leadership and Social Development programme, and our Bachelor programmes in Accountancy, Chinese Language Education, Sociology with Military Studies, Building and Project Management, Communication with Military Studies, Human Resource Management with Military Studies, and Human Factors and System with Military Studies.
  1. The theme of our convocation is "Fulfilling Aspirations". This is a goal that has spurred the Singapore Institute of Management (or SIM) on its journey of providing learning and development opportunities for professionals, executives and students in its 50 years of existence. We are thankful for this heritage; UniSIM could not have come about without the vision and accomplishment of SIM.
  1. Since UniSIM was established in 2005, it has helped more than 22,000 alumni who have completed their studies with the University to fulfil their aspirations. The UniSIM degree has opened many doors to job enhancement, salary raise, career advancement, career change, further studies – fulfilling aspirations.

UniSIM's focus

  1. UniSIM has maintained a focus on several key aspects of its education provisions, viz., academic quality, wider access, a useful degree, and good learning experience.
  1. Academic quality is non-negotiable. One never "arrives", but we are always plodding the path to raise the quality bar. Crucial to this are our faculty, both full-time and part-time (or associates) – indeed, we have increased training requirements on our associates and enhanced programme rigour. We have also placed priority on service quality to give our students a good all-round experience.
  1. A useful degree gives our graduates the leg-up in their career, and makes them more useful at work. Ours is industry-involved, industry-relevant, real-world education. Toward this end, over the years, we have forged relationships with more than 100 partners.
  1. We have given opportunities to many to have a university education through our broad admission policy. A good proportion does not succeed because of our strict graduation standards. We have enhanced our support systems to help more to succeed, introduced challenge exams to recognise prior learning, and sought pedagogical innovations from among our faculty.
  1. Ultimately, we are concerned that our graduates get a good learning experience, enabling them to apply what they have learnt to their work; enabling them to learn at their own pace, own time and wherever they are, and imbued with a lifelong learning habit. We have made progress in our online learning, and most of our courses are now accompanied by our proprietary online learning materials, accessible by mobile applications.
  1. These educational thrusts – academic quality, wider access, a useful degree, good learning experience – fit nicely with the recommendations of the ASPIRE Committee. Though this report is on the polytechnics and ITE, its recommendations have wider reference, extolling the core idea of everyone being given the opportunity to reach full potential through various pathways of learning, continuing lifelong education, and at a pace suitable to the learner. ASPIRE identifies the need for good career awareness, and advocates relevant training for the job, a preparedness for the workplace and adaptability to the future workplace through Continuous Education and Training (or CET).
  1. You, our UniSIM graduates, embody much of what ASPIRE aspires to! You've experienced the workplace, decided what career is suited to you, and got into the UniSIM programme that best fits you. You've taken your time, blended work with study, learnt and applied along the way. You are thus able to make the most of your education to meet your career and life goals. You are a continuing learner, and you've been schooled in directing your own learning and do it online extensively.
  1. Looking ahead, UniSIM will continue to build learning around our students, enhancing our modular and flexible structure, and creating an immersive and enriching online learning with more chunked lectures, flipped classes, peer learning, and technology-supported learning feedback and diagnostics. Our goal is effective, contextualised, enjoyable learning, and a lifelong habit of learning.

  2. We will expand our CET programme for working adults and adult learners, to acquire skills through credit-bearing and bite-sized modules. We will do more of this by working with individual companies and industry clusters to provide structured CET programmes.
  1. We aim to provide graduates with more than just a paper qualification. They should be graduates with three distinct qualities: strong practice intelligence in their chosen fields; socially-minded individuals motivated to make a difference in society; and self-directed lifelong learners with strong work values – in short, graduates with Head, Heart and Habit
  1. This year, we started three programmes for full-time students – an exciting addition that will stretch our vision. In the years ahead, we will widen the repertoire of disciplines, steadily increasing the numbers. Our full-time students will be imbued with the attitudes and habits that have helped our part-time students. We will exploit the good of both modes of learning and, in so doing, set a paradigm where the lines of work and study are blurred. Our goal is to be a university for lifelong learning, providing for those who wish to continue after school, or work first then upgrade, or have a mix of both as they build their career, and to those who wish to continue learning right past retirement. In so doing, we will offer varied pathways to success, using varied modalities of pedagogy, giving mobility and flexibility to learners.

Final exhortation

  1. Class of 2014, congratulations on your success. You've just reached the top of one mountain. Some of you took three years, some four to seven, and a few needed eight. You took different durations because you had different abilities to cope, different starting points, different life and work circumstances, different obstacles along the way. The important thing is this: you all reached the finishing line, every one of you who resolved to succeed and put in the required effort. You will be an encouragement and model to others coming after.
  1. Enjoy the view at the summit. Savour your success. But, there, you'll see other peaks – they may not be about academic success, they may represent career high points, being a great parent, building a loving family, sacrificing for another, championing a social cause, or achieving a personal best. Have the same spirit of adventure as you had at UniSIM – climb those mountains, all the rest of your life.
  1. Soon, you will make your descent and life will return to normal – no more late nights, TMAs, exams, missing family, tired eyes. But, don't let it get too normal – your studies at UniSIM had got you to be efficient, great at time management and multi-tasking, nimble-minded, learning on-the-go, applied in thinking, appreciating family, friends, sleep. Don't let it all go, don't let it dissipate – keep those great habits and attitudes. Then you are ready for the next climb.


  1. My final words to you: Remember who accompanied you to success – your loved ones, family, parents, spouses, children, friends, teachers, encouragers. They sacrificed for you. Gratitude is one of the traits we hope to find in all UniSIM graduates. Let's thank them all now. Most of you also benefitted from the fee subsidy given by our government of up to 55%. We are thankful for this recognition of your drive and effort.
  1. You are also a UniSIM alumni – don't forget where you got your education from. Come back to contribute – there are many ways to do so; you'll only have to ask us.
  1. Together, let us make UniSIM strong and a force for good in our society. Thank you.

Introduce DPM Teo​

  1. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my privilege to introduce our Guest-of-Honour, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.
  1. Mr Teo was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in April 2009. He is also Coordinating Minister for National Security, Minister for Home Affairs, and Minister in charge of the Civil Service. And, he oversees the National Population and Talent Division and the National Climate Change Secretariat.
  1. DPM Teo has an illustrious career, first serving in the Singapore Armed Forces where he held various command and staff appointments, rising to become Chief of Navy, and the rank of Rear Admiral. In December 1992, he was elected a Member of Parliament, and subsequently, re-elected to parliament four times. Since entering Parliament, he has served as Minister in the Defence, Education and Environment Ministries.
  1. A President's and SAF Scholar, DPM Teo graduated with a Bachelor of Science (First Class) in Electrical Engineering and Management Science from the University of Manchester, and subsequently, a Master of Science degree (with distinction) in Computing Science at the Imperial College, London, and a Master's in Public Administration from Harvard University.
  2. DPM Teo, thank you for gracing our Convocation. This is a great privilege and honour for us and our graduands. May I invite you to address us.
  3. Ladies and gentlemen, DPM Teo Chee Hean.


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