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Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At The AMKFSC-UniSIM Social Work Symposium

Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, SIM University, At The AMKFSC-UniSIM Social Work Symposium On 15 February 2017, 9.30am, SIM University's Performing Arts Theatre

Mr Tan Chuan-Jin, Minister for Social and Family Development; 
Dr Ang Seng Bin, Chairman, AMKFSC Community Services Ltd; 
Dr Vincent Ng, Chief Executive Officer, AMKFSC Community Services Ltd; 
Ladies and Gentlemen; 

  1. ​Good morning and a very warm welcome to SIM University, or UniSIM in short.
  2. I am glad that you are able to join us today for AMKFSC-UniSIM Social Work Symposium 2017. We have a close and lengthy relationship with AMKFSC, which over the years has seen AMKFSC staff becoming our associate faculty and AMKFSC becoming a go-to practicum site for our students. Such a partnership brings real-world experiences into our classrooms, and our students into the real world. This applied approach is adopted in all of our 60 plus programmes, including our undergraduate programme in Social Work, which we launched in 2007. This programme, first offered in part-time study mode, which saw a humble intake of 23, has grown to a cap of 100 students per semester now. And today, we also take in students on a full-time basis.
  3. Providing an applied focus education and making our graduates relevant to the workplace is one thing; giving greater access to our programmes is another. Given the high demand for professionals in the social services sector, we have introduced many pathways into our programmes. So, our students can take the Social Work programme part-time or full-time, or move from full-time to part-time to take up employment. Others may come in to taste our courses and, if up to the demands of study, be admitted formally. We introduced the Higher Diploma in Social Services – with the Social Service Institute – to provide an alternative entry route to this programme. In 2011, we offered the Professional Conversion Programme for Social Work – with then Singapore Workforce Development Agency – to enable mid-career conversions. To meet the growing need of social workers seeking to upgrade their skills and those looking for mid-career switches, we launched a Graduate Diploma and Master of Social Work in 2009. We also established the Through-train Programme in Social Work with Nanyang Polytechnic in 2012. And, with SkillsFuture, we can offer social work modules to many more so that public understanding of, and support for, social work, building social resilience, is increased.

  4. Yes, it has been 10 years since we introduced our Bachelor of Social Work programme. To develop and run a programme like social work in the traditional way for a homogenous group of full time students is relatively easy. To do this for full time and part time students with the same professional learning outcomes, to enable students to switch from one mode to another, to offer it for PCP and other pathways, to fully modularise the curriculum and offer learning 24-7, to make the training applied, to let the learner progress at his own pace, to allow public access to individual courses – these demand a lot more effort and attention. AMKFSC is a go-to centre for internship and employment; I trust UniSIM's Social Work programme is a go-to programme for aspiring serious social workers.
  5. So, I want to recognise those who got us here – my Provost, deans, HoP (Prof Seng Boon Kheng), my colleagues, our associate faculty, great industry partners like AMKFSC, those who believed in us – the Government, MSF, NCSS, WDA, employers, our students. Thank you. And with your help, we will do better and more, including providing thought leadership and applied research results for the advancement of the social services sector.
  6. It has been an enriching journey for us at UniSIM. Our goal is to graduate students who are developed holistically in line with our three H's curriculum: Head – Professionally competent and job-ready, with applied skills; Heart – Socially conscious with a desire to make positive changes in society; Habit – Self-directed and lifelong learner with strong ethics and values. In social work, the 'Heart' comes out very strongly indeed, as it should.
  7. We treasure all these fruitful partnerships, especially that with AMKFSC and we look forward to continuing with AMKFSC to benefit our students, the industry and society at large.
  8. We are grateful that our University's role in the nation's education and skills training landscape to provide more opportunities and pathways for lifelong learning has been recognised by the Government. Most of our students receive tuition fee subsidies from the Government. Lately, we started our Law School focusing on family and criminal law, which should present some interesting things we can do with the social work and law programmes.
  9. UniSIM's contributions, especially in the education of social sciences, have been further validated last October when the Government announced its proposal for UniSIM to become Singapore's sixth autonomous university, with a focus on applied education in the domain of social sciences and also in lifelong learning. We are extremely heartened by this affirmation by the Government, and we are ready to do more.
  10. In closing, I would like to thank AMKFSC for joining hands again with us this year to organise the second edition of AMKFSC-UniSIM Social Work Symposium. We are also very thankful to Minister Tan Chuan-Jin for gracing this event as our Guest-of-Honour. Please join me in expressing our appreciation to Minister Tan for his support.
  11. Thank you all, for without your presence and participation, the symposium will not be a success. Finally, our appreciation to all who have worked very hard to put this together.

  12. I wish all of you a wonderful day ahead.
  13. Thank you. ​
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