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Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At The SIM University Convocation Ceremony 2009

Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President Of SIM University At The SIM University Convocation 2009, On 8 October 2009 At SIM University


Mr Chancellor and Chairman of SIM University, Professor Cham Tao Soon;
Members, SIM University Board of Trustees;
Mr Khoo Boon Hui, Commissioner of Police and special guest speaker;
Distinguished guests;
Graduands, parents and families;
Colleagues and friends of UniSIM.


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

2009 Graduating Class

  1. This convocation will see the biggest cohort yet of our students graduating – a total of 1157 over three ceremonies. It is a milestone for us as among the graduands are many of the pioneer batch to be admitted to UniSIM when it was established as a Singapore university in 2005, with the approval of the Ministry of Education. And the numbers who will join the ranks of our graduates and alumni each year will grow in the years ahead, making UniSIM a major provider of local graduates for our economy and society. The graduating class comes from a total of 18 programme majors.

  1. About 65% of the Class of 2009 is below the age of 30 years. But we do have those who are more senior – 21 are 50 years and above. We salute all of you, in particular those who have overcome immense odds to succeed, or those who, despite their senior years, still found the joy and satisfaction to come back to school. Indeed, getting your degree is no mean feat. Each of you has scaled a mountain and reached its peak. 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. Lest we forget, family members (parents, spouse, children), colleagues and friends, have also been alongside of you, who have kept you going with their unstinting support, often sacrificially. Congratulations to all! We are immensely proud of you and we hope you are equally proud of your UniSIM degree!

Firsts in 2008

  1. Since the last convocation, the University has scored several firsts in its programmes and activities. Among you are many from the first cohort who enrolled in UniSIM after it was established in 2005. Among you also are our first ever graduates in 3 programmes, viz., Management & Security Studies, Tamil Language & Literature, and IT & Business. We are also graduating our first group of postgraduate students, who have obtained the Graduate Diploma or Executive Master in Technology Entrepreneurship. Having launched the BA in Malay Language and Literature programme earlier this year, UniSIM became the only local university ever, perhaps the only in the region and the world, to offer Language and Literature programmes in English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil, Singapore’s four official languages. UniSIM has the distinction also of being the university to introduce the first-ever local undergraduate programmes in counselling, logistics & supply chain management, and early childhood education with management.

Present and Future Developments

  1. We have now reached a student enrolment of 10,000. To cater to this growing population, we have increased our staff strength by 17%, especially academic resources to develop new programmes and support existing ones. Physical space has constrained our growth and services, so the construction of a 27,000 sq m Annexe Building next to the SIM HQ Building has commenced. Costing more than $100M, the building will be completed in early 2011, and will add new classrooms, office space and common facilities. Our counselling centre, which supports our counseling programme and provide professional services to both staff and students, has been set up and will be expanded next year as demand for its services grow.

  1. In 2009, new relationships were forged with the Singapore Management University, Nanjing University, several Malaysian universities for our Malay programme, the SAF and the SEED Institute. Our research activities have also intensified, benefiting from collaborations with external parties including ST Kinetics, Singapore Logistics Association, NUS, NTU and private companies such as Bio-Scaffold International Pte Ltd.

  1. Quality will remain a major focus for the university, be it in content or delivery of its curricula, the teaching staff or the services to students. Though a private university, we aspire to mirror the best found in the established publicly-funded universities like the NUS and NTU, to give our best to students. To this end, we will subject ourselves to the Quality Assurance Framework for Universities (QAFU) set up by the Ministry of Education which has been applied to NUS, NTU and SMU.

Endorsements for UniSIM

  1. Nevertheless, we have good reasons to be assured that we are on the right track. The government’s tuition fee subsidy for our students is a strong endorsement of the relevance and quality of our programmes. Hundreds of school teachers have gone through our doors and emplaced as graduate teachers by MOE. The Tamil and Malay programmes are developed at the behest of MOE. The Management and Security programme, which has its first graduands among us this morning, is developed specially for the Singapore Police Force and Home Team NS, and to which these organizations send personnel on scholarships as part of their staff career development. The SAF has started a programme with UniSIM to enable its servicemen to upgrade their qualifications. Recently, the government’s SPUR funding to deal with the current recession was extended to our Social Work programme. Scholarships from government ministries have been pledged for our new Early Childhood Education with Management programme. And SPRING Singapore funding is available to those who are admitted into the Technology Entrepreneurship Master programme. Our graduate survey last year confirmed that our graduates do well, their degrees have given many of them salary gains, career advancement or employment mobility. We are indeed gratified by the strong recognition we have received.

Our Graduates as UniSIM's Reputation Builders

  1. But ultimately, the reputation of the university and its qualifications depends on its graduates, our alumni. You are the ones who will testify to the quality of the education you have received at UniSIM. And I believe, it is not just a matter of knowledge or ability to use your newly-acquired knowledge at your workplace. It is also about having good work ethics, being dependable, proactive and adaptable. What UniSIM’s graduates should be known for is also a people who have integrity and honour, who can excel as individuals and yet work well with others, who are passionate learners and willing teachers and mentors, who take on success with humility and gratitude, and failure with an indomitable spirit to try again, who have a heart for the underdog, the downtrodden and the weak. It is a high calling and one which I hope each of you will reflect on from time to time as you go about your busy lives.


  1. Graduands, today closes a chapter of your lives but opens up another, with new and promising opportunities. How successful you will be depends on you. The focus, drive and determination you have exhibited while studying 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 keep your relationship with UniSIM as our alumni. The vision of UniSIM is "Serving society through excellence in flexible education for adult learners" – you have benefitted from this vision; together, we can work towards realizing this vision for others.

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

  1. Thank you.

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