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Speech by Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At The SIM University Convocation 2007

Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President Of SIM University At The SIM University Convocation 2007, On 4 September 2007 At SIM University


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

 

  1. Welcome to the SIM University Convocation!

Congratulations to Graduating Class


  1. Today, a total of 410 students are graduating with a UniSIM degree. This is the second cohort of UniSIM graduates and they come from a total of 29 programmes. About half are in the age range of 20 to 30 years. Those aged 40 and below make up 82%. So we see a broad spectrum of the working population at UniSIM. These are executives and professionals who are keen to upgrade while they work.

  1. To our graduating students, your accomplishment is not to be lightly valued. As our students, you have fought and overcome academic challenges, deadlines, conflicting demands of family, work and study, to finish your studies. And meeting our rigorous standards. It is no easy task, and to finish required academic ability, determination, patience, and lots of support from family, colleagues and friends. We salute and congratulate all of you, our graduates, and all your staunch supporters. The qualification you are getting is a recognized Singapore degree. Be proud of it!

UniSIM's Position


  1. UniSIM's vision is to serve society through excellence in flexible education for adult learners. It is the Singapore university pioneering adult tertiary education, and the only local private university to do this. UniSIM is privileged to have the unstinting support of the Ministry of Education. Within the Singapore university landscape, we serve the adult learners’ market, complementing the three publicly-funded universities (NUS, NTU and SMU) which run undergraduate programmes for fresh school-leavers.

Growth and New Programmes in 2007


  1. So, in the year past, UniSIM continued its steady growth with this mission in mind. Demand for admission to our programmes was sustained, and we now have more than 7,400 enrolled in 42 programmes. We doubled our academic staff strength, and invested substantially in an e-Learning system and in administrative and teaching facilities. UniSIM introduced several new programmes to enlarge the choices available to new students. Our new counseling degree programme is a first by a Singapore university; so are the bachelor of arts in translation and interpretation, and the bachelor of science in business analytics. The bachelor of culinary arts and management is also a pioneering programme.

Niche Areas and Partnerships


  1. While consolidating our broad-based programmes, our intention is to seek out niche areas where specialized knowledge and skills are sought after by our industries - skills which are not already offered by other three local universities. One example is the IT skills certification presently offered as part of our undergraduate training. Science and Technology students on this fast-track certification programme graduate with much more than a degree – they get highly-marketable industry certification as well, from companies like Bluecoat Systems, F5 Networks and Packeteer. Companies tell us these graduates will be the best-fit for their organisations. Another example: We have entered into several strategic partnerships with industry to launch specialist programmes - the Master of Taxation Programme with the Tax Academy of Singapore, the Technology Entrepreneurship postgraduate programme with the Institution of Engineers, Singapore, and the tie-up with the Workforce Development Authority and the Retail Academy to allow graduates of its retail diploma to advance into our marketing programme. This ability and flexibility to respond to market needs by partnering with reputable market players is one cornerstone of our unique differentiation from others, and of our success.

  1. Internationally, we have forged collaborations with universities in the US, Canada, UK, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Two specific ones for mention is the MOU with Athabasca University, the largest open university in Canada with a strong reputation for adult learning and the University of Buffalo SUNY in the US – soon, our students will be able to read courses from these universities towards their degree requirements.

Widening Access


  1. To widen access to university education, UniSIM launched, just last week, the Learning for Life General Studies programme. It is an exciting first-of-its-kind programme by a Singapore university catering to a broad spectrum of adults, both young and seniors. Students tailor their own learning, in disciplines they fancy, in their own time for recreation or enrichment. Students can now study for credits and qualifications without having to meet objectives of career prospects and advancement.

  1. UniSIM has partnered with the Council for 3rd Age (C3A) to extend this General Studies Programme to senior citizens. We want these seniors to enjoy learning like they’ve never done before in a spirit of learning, adventure and self-renewal. Our oldest student, Mr Chen Woo Teck, exemplifies this never-say-die spirit. A retired primary school teacher, he is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Chinese language and literature. His education early in life was disrupted by the war. In fact, his father was taken away by Japanese soldiers and never returned. But now he’s back, hitting the books like any other regular UniSIM undergrad. And he’s 74 years old.

Investing in Capabilities


  1. Our Centre for Applied Research has started functioning with 5 on-going projects. One of these generates a report that is published in the Business Times every quarter. It is the nature and aspiration of universities to create new knowledge and advance innovation. It is no different with UniSIM, but as a university which champions practitioner-based education, UniSIM will focus on research with a practical bent, turning out results that can be readily applied.

Looking Ahead

 

(Programmes)
  1. In the year ahead, UniSIM will further diversify and expand our academic offerings. In the pipeline are programmes to develop talent in Human Resources, Hospitality, Property and Business, Visual Communications, Accountancy, even Workplace Safety and Health. 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 Master of Taxation and the Executive Master of Technology Entrepreneurship are UniSIM’s first programmes at master level – we will be adding to this list to meet industry’s need for postgraduate talent. As the General Studies programme takes off, UniSIM will explore a wider array of interests for inclusion in our courses, such as in the arts, languages, music, travel, human sciences, etc., as well as courses in Mandarin, and we invite experts in these areas to join with us to develop university courses for all to enjoy.

(Partnerships)
  1. UniSIM will continue to enter into strategic partnerships with industry to launch specialist certifications and programmes or alternative pathways to a quality degree. We will seek out strategic overseas university partners, so our students can benefit from wider exposure through programmes, networking and link-ups.

(e-Learning)
  1. We have already started to focus on e-learning to enhance our programme delivery. This will take on a strong impetus in the years ahead as we further invest in technology and pedagogy to create a robust and enriching e-Learning environment which will give our students the greatest flexibility in learning, whether they are in Singapore or overseas.

(Talent)
  1. In 2006, we offered SIM University Scholarships to 3 undergraduates. This year, another 14 freshmen were presented this university award to recognize talent. Our sponsorship programme, to help students with their fees, has also grown to benefit more than 50 students this year. In furthering this scheme, we will seek out partner organisations with like-minded desire to help those with financial constraints make it through university.

(Strengthening Alumni)
  1. A key focus for next year and the years ahead are our alumni. Having evolved out of the former SIM Open University Centre, UniSIM draws on a rich heritage and an alumni pool that is currently 7,000-strong. To advance this alumni interest, the Student and Alumni Relations Office has been set up and will shortly be announcing a suite of benefits and activities for our alumni. One key benefit will be the UniSIM ‘ACE’ (or Alumni Continuing Education) programme which invites our past graduates back for continuing knowledge upgrading at highly preferential rates. We intend to channel fees collected from this programme to fund study awards for needy students. I urge you, as newly-minted alumni of UniSIM, to connect, reconnect, and nourish one another. Contribute to the growth of your alma mater by helping to shape the culture, character, and potential of this institution. Inspire others who are in the unenviable position you were once in, as multi-taskers straddling numerous heavy commitments.

  1. What you see is a university which has its focus on people. In the years ahead, UniSIM will reinforce its role as a university for the people of Singapore, providing quality and flexible higher education for adults.

Conclusion


  1. Graduands, we have walked with you on this journey, and once again, let me congratulate you on your accomplishments.

  1. In closing, do remember that the greatest things in life are created with passion. Passion makes everything possible, so follow your heart and turn hurdles into stepping stones. Be true to your dreams, and live with honesty and conviction.

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

  1. Thank you.
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