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Speech by Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At SIM University Convocation 2015

Speech by Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, SIM University, At SIM University Convocation 2015 (Session 1) On 7 October 2015, 9.30am, The Grand Hall Of SIM University

Guest-of-Honour, Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister for Manpower;
Professor Aline Wong, Chancellor, SIM University;
Members, SIM University Board of Trustees and SIM Governing Council;
Graduands, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen;

  1. I warmly welcome all of you to SIM University Convocation 2015.

Convocation 2015

  1. This year, SIM University (or UniSIM) will see 2,248 graduands presented over five ceremonies. Among them are our pioneer batches of graduands from the undergraduate programmes in Aviation Maintenance, Human Factors in Safety with Military Studies, Early Childhood and Chinese Language Education, Communication with Business, and Communication with Psychology.

Game Changer – UniSIM

  1. The theme of our convocation is “Game Changer”. It is a term that evokes different responses and interpretation. Well, for all the graduands here today and in the other ceremonies, it is an apt descriptor of your present happy situation. The game has changed for you – you have completed a gruelling period of studies and are armed with a good university qualification – an achievement we all recognise and applaud. New opportunities have opened up for you, and now, it is up to each one of you to make the most of these opportunities, to raise the level of the game. We have every confidence you can. Looking at our past graduates, the UniSIM degree has opened many doors to job enhancement, salary increase, career advancement, career change, further studies – fulfilling aspirations.
  1. For UniSIM, “game changing” is also something familiar. UniSIM has been in this “game changing” business since it was established in 2005. This year, in Singapore’s golden jubilee, we celebrate UniSIM’s 10th anniversary, and the one thing we are proud of is that we have helped more than 25,000 alumni who had successfully completed their studies with the University. In doing so, we hope that we have also lifted their spirits, enhanced their worth and self-confidence.
  1. Indeed, UniSIM has changed the university landscape in Singapore and brought in fresh perspectives of what a university education is. UniSIM is privately-run, unlike the other local universities – the only one in Singapore. It is not-for-profit, giving such opportunity and access to university education that no other local university has ever provided, the only one here with a special focus on working adults and adult learners. We pioneered many new programmes so that the different needs from industry and society can be satisfied. Our programmes are modular and we have a multi-modal delivery system – it all adds up to our students being able to learn anytime, anywhere, at their own pace. Our education is heavily applied, and our associate lecturers number in the hundreds bringing the working world into our classrooms. Our goal is to turn out graduates – and that include all of you here this morning – who will serve meaningfully and effectively in our economy and in our society. We pioneered online learning in Singapore on a pervasive scale, gave mobility to our students to get their learning anywhere, all on their communication devices. We took in our full-time students last year, and we will pioneer learning for them that will introduce them early to the realities of the working world and imbue them with the head for learning and application, a heart for those around them, and a habit for lifelong learning that will see them through their careers and daily living.
  1. In the years ahead, UniSIM will build on these. We will maintain a focus on several key aspects of our education provisions, viz., academic quality, wider access, a relevant degree and good learning experience. We will invest in learning support and analytics to understand learning needs and make interventions that will help. We will modify and re-purpose our courses to enable learning and skills upgrading all through a person’s work life and beyond.
  1. You have heard about SkillsFuture – this is one key area of UniSIM’s effort in the years ahead. SkillsFuture is a national game changer. It will change not only the individual, but also our economy and society, enabling our country to transit well through economic uncertainties and into new paradigms. It will alter our way of thinking about learning and work and life. If you get it right, if we get it right, you can fit well into the future and our economy and society can adjust well and thrive. Our applied modular approach, our online provisions, our understanding about how adults learn, all lend themselves very nicely to advance SkillsFuture. We have made inroads already serving various companies and industry clusters, and about 200 of our courses qualify for SkillsFuture funding. But we plan to do much more, expand our offerings, offer certifications, become a preferred training partner of industry and be a significant player in SkillsFuture. 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 chart new pathways for learning and growth.
  1. Towards this end, we want first to have you, our graduates, continue on your path of learning. We currently have an Alumni Continuing Education programme, we call “ACE”. “ACE” gives good course fee incentives for our alumni to return for new knowledge and to deepen or refresh their capabilities. With SkillsFuture funding for our courses, “ACE” has become even more affordable. We want to further encourage our newest cohorts of graduates to continue what they have gained in UniSIM. So, we will make “ACE” even more attractive to them and to you – under the right conditions, our new alumni will be able to take two UniSIM courses for free or at a small cost if they do so within the first two years of graduation. And there is no need to take the exams if you don’t want to this time, just do the learning!

Game Changer – Graduands

  1. But, back to what “game changing” has been to you, our UniSIM graduates. In getting your degree, the game has changed for you. But, is that all? Surely, not! In the time you were at UniSIM, you would have honed your abilities in time-management, juggling many demands, applied what you’ve learnt quite immediately to your work, learnt to learn on the move and at all times and places (maybe learnt to sleep anywhere, anytime, even), learnt that knowledge can be so transient that you’ll need to keep catching up all your life, and more importantly, you now know how to do it well and effectively. In that sense, in the SkillsFuture game, you are ahead of many others. And I urge you to keep ahead!
  1. But then, is that all the “game changing” you’d want to do? I hope not. You are successful, but how do you view success in the future? Is it about yourself, or do you view your success in the way you help others to be successful? You should now be a game changer – one who improves your workplace, one who urges others to learn for mastery, one who uses your new-found knowledge, abilities and confidence to lift others up to experience “game changing” for themselves. You, our graduates, must be socially-minded individuals motivated to make a difference in society. You are the catalysts and change-makers for your generation and the next. You can inspire others to not only keep learning, but using the advancement that comes with it to make a sustained impact and positive difference in the community.

Final exhortation

  1. Class of 2015, you’ve succeeded. Congratulations! Let us give them a rousing congratulations. Your success comes not just by your own effort and sacrifice. Many others paid a price to get you here today. Remember who accompanied you to success – your loved ones, family, parents, spouses, children, friends, teachers, encouragers. They gave something of themselves for you, too. If you are not grateful to them, then we have toiled with you in vain, degree or no degree! Let us thank them all now.
  1. I close with a final exhortation: In graduating, you are now UniSIM alumni – I hope you will not forget where you got your education from. When you have problems to solve at work, come back to our community for possible solutions; when you have a new business to start, come back to consult or find a network of experience, when you want to test an idea, come back for some research advice. But also, 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. Congratulations and thank you.

Introduce Minister Lim

  1. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my privilege to introduce our Guest-of-Honour, Minister for Manpower, Mr Lim Swee Say.
  1. Mr Lim is a member of the Singapore Cabinet and of the East Coast GRC. Before entering politics, he was actively involved with the development of information technology, as well as the economic development of Singapore. Mr Lim rose to become General Manager and then Chairman of the National Computer Board, and Managing Director of the Economic Development Board. He believes that the end objective of exploiting technological advances and achieving economic progress is to enhance the standard of living and quality of life of the people.
  1. In 1996, Mr Lim entered politics and joined the labour movement to help the rank and file workers upgrade and remain employable. He has served in several positions, including being Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC), and held ministerial appointments in Communications & Information Technology, Environment, National Development, and Trade & Industry. Earlier this year, he took office as the Minister for Manpower.
  1. An SAF overseas scholar, Mr Lim obtained first class honours in Electronics, Computer and Systems Engineering, and subsequently an honorary degree of Doctor of Technology, both degrees from Loughborough University of Technology, UK. Mr Lim also has a Master Degree in Management from Stanford University. Those of us who’ve heard him know that we’re in for a treat of a speech.
  1. It is my pleasure to invite Minister Lim to address us today.

Mr Lim, please.


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