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Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At SIM University Convocation Ceremony 2008

Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President Of SIM University At The SIM University Convocation 2008, On 16 October 2008 At SIM University


Mr Chancellor and Chairman of SIM University, Professor Cham Tao Soon;
Members, SIM University Board of Trustees;
Distinguished guests;
Graduands, parents and families;
Colleagues and friends;
Ladies and gentlemen;

 

  1. I bid you a very warm welcome to the SIM University Convocation!.

2008 Graduating Class


  1. Today, a total of 851 students are graduating with a UniSIM degree. This will take place over two ceremonies, one in the morning and another in the afternoon. The graduating class comes from a total of 18 programme majors. We have a pretty young cohort here - about 6 in 10 are in the age range of 20 to 30 years. Those aged 40 and below make up 88%. A broad spectrum of the working population comes through the doors of UniSIM, seeking, and indeed, finding knowledge and qualification upgrading while they continue working.

  1. To our graduating students, getting your degree is no small achievement to be lightly valued. It is a tough challenge to juggle studies, work and family and to persist to the very end. And meeting our rigorous standards along the way. We salute you. We also salute the family members (parents, spouse, children), colleagues and friends, who kept you going with their unstinting support. Congratulations to all! We are immensely proud of you and we hope you are equally proud of your UniSIM degree!

Growth and New Programmes in 2008


  1. Since the last convocation, UniSIM continued its steady growth in programme offerings, student enrolment and staff strength. We have now more than 8000 students enrolled in 26 programme majors. The University introduced several new programmes to widen the opportunities and choices for new students. The Human Resource Management programme is a first by a Singapore university that is dedicated to this discipline rather than as a specialization in a business programme; the Social Work programme creates upgrading opportunities for the many already in practice; the Bachelor of Engineering in Aerospace Systems is the only programme of this sort locally to cater to those working in the fledgling aerospace industry. The postgraduate diploma and Executive Master of Technology Entrepreneurship began in July, announcing UniSIM’s fresh foray into the postgraduate education arena. Some of our current programmes have also been revamped and refreshed – you would have missed these improvements, but you can always come back to sample the new courses that have been introduced.

Developments and Partnerships


  1. In the last year, UniSIM forged alliances with university and industry partners to start new programmes and enhance the learning experience of students. Our new partners include Cranfield University (UK), ST Aerospace and Singapore Polytechnic for the Aerospace programme, the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts for joint academic programmes in the fine arts, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for accreditation of translators, and industry players comprising SAP and RedHat and 5 major audit firms.

  1. There is one partner we are consciously mindful of whose importance to the University is critical and for the long term – our alumni – that includes you, our new graduates. We have stepped up our outreach to our 8000-strong alumni, inviting them to continue their engagement with us, through activities, continuing education and in teaching our courses. Recently, we selected 7 students and alumni to be UniSIM ambassadors, representing and promoting the University and epitomizing the UniSIM spirit. We’d like more to be engaged with us, providing leadership, ideas and participation to make the alumni a vibrant community. And, we’ll be rolling out more engagement opportunities that you can all make use of.

  1. Within the university, staff strength has grown by 40%; the number of professors has crept up by 30%. The organizational structure and processes are being enhanced to enable the University to meet the demands of a growing enrolment.

Endorsements for UniSIMs


  1. Two developments this year have given a boost to all of us at UniSIM – students, staff and alumni, and our future students.

  1. In March, the Ministry of Education announced subsidies of up to 40% of tuition fees for eligible Singapore and Singapore PR students who are studying at UniSIM from July 2008. It is a strong boost for Continuing Education and Training, and we are most happy for our students for the substantial financial support and incentive. Alas, for you, this has come too late, but take heart - this is a strong endorsement for UniSIM from MOE, it plants UniSIM firmly in Singapore’s university space, and increases recognition and value of your degree. Indeed, since the announcement, UniSIM has seen a marked rise in the number of applicants to its programmes.

  1. At about the same time of the year, we conducted our first-ever graduate survey, seeking information about their employment and usefulness of the degree programmes they attended. The results are heartening. More than half of those who responded had salary increases, averaging 15%, within 2 years of graduation. 20% moved to other jobs in that same period, mainly for better prospects, higher pay or career change. Generally, they felt that their programmes of study had helped them in their work, and provided good personal development. Three in four rated their UniSIM experience highly. Here’s the nice thing: the main motivations for taking up a programme in UniSIM were skills/knowledge upgrading and pursuit of interests, and about 7 in 10 intended to pursue postgraduate qualifications within 3 years of graduation. So, our graduates are getting on well, their degrees have given many of them salary gains, career advancement or employment mobility. Well, we cannot promise that the same will happen to you, but what a great encouragement, to you and to us.

Looking Ahead


  1. The graduate survey shows up a thirst for continuing education and postgraduate studies among our graduates. So, in the years ahead, while we continue to introduce new undergraduate programmes to meet specific needs and increase choice, the new focus will be on increasing our repertoire of postgraduate programmes. In 2009, new undergraduate programmes in Malay Language and Literature, Visual Communications with Business, Logistics and Transportation, Human Factors and Systems will be offered. Postgraduate programmes slated for introduction are in the areas of Open Source Software, Social Work, Taxation, and English. We will work with SIM Global Education, which has partnerships with 11 overseas universities, to enable our students to read courses from these universities while satisfying their UniSIM degree requirements, and thereby enrich their experience at UniSIM. The emphasis on raising the quality of academic and student support services remains a centerpiece of our development, including the sustained building up of our e-Learning environment to enhance learning and modal flexibility.

Conclusion


  1. Graduands, today closes a chapter of your lives but opens up another promising one. How you perform in the future is up to you, though the university’s reputation, which is growing, depends much on how successful in life our graduates become. The graduate survey gives us confidence that our graduates do do well after graduation and do benefit much from their education at UniSIM. You proved that you can take the stress of combining university studies with all your other work and life commitments, with focus, drive and determination – these are the same ingredients for your success in your next phase of life. I urge you to continue learning, now that you have cultivated the habit of doing so, and come back to join in our ACE programme (or Alumni Continuing Education programme). The recent world events, from the melamine-in-milk scare to the global financial meltdown have presented many lessons for us all, among which is the need for the highest level of integrity, prudence and being up-to-date with information and knowledge. I trust this has not been missed by you in the din of the turmoil. I trust that you’ll use your newly acquired qualifications to benefit not just yourselves but society at large as well. Many of you are teachers, and that’s where you serve best to educate our future. Others here no doubt will find other ways to serve with the knowledge you’ve gained. The vision of UniSIM is "Serving society through excellence in flexible education for adult learners" – together, we can work towards making UniSIM the "People's University".

  1. On behalf of UniSIM, I wish you the very best.

  1. Thank you.
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