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Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At The SIM University Convocation 2011

Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President Of SIM University At The SIM University Convocation 2011, 9.30am On 6 October 2011 At SIM University


Guest-of-Honour, Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister of State for Education and Defence;
Professor Cham Tao Soon, Chancellor, UniSIM;
Members, SIM University Board of Trustees;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen;


  1. Good morning and welcome to the SIM University Convocation!
  1. This convocation will see a total of 1,729 students graduating over four ceremonies. The number has been growing steadily since our first batch in 2006 of 423 graduates. This year's cohort comes from a wide range of disciplines - from language & literature to psychology, electronics to aerospace systems, business to logistics, and social work to human resource Management. Among the graduands are the inaugural batches which have completed programmes in Communications, Visual Communication with Business, and UniSIM’s own Chinese Language and Literature. Congratulations to all our graduands! You join the ranks of 15,700 UniSIM alumni who have passed our rigorous requirements.

  1. We are honoured that Mr Wong is able to grace this morning's ceremony. His ministry, the Ministry of Education, or MOE, has been most supportive of SIM University, or UniSIM, and helping us to achieve our vision to serve society through excellence in flexible learning for adults.

  1. In the last year, we had made steady strides in our development. Our student population has expanded to number more than 11,500 and our full-time staff strength grew to over 260. More than 500 academics and professionals in the field serve the University as associate faculty.

  1. This year saw the completion of Phase 1 of a five-year, S$300 million Campus Development Master Plan that was launched in 2009 to double the existing campus at Clementi. The new 6-storey 28,000 square metres building costing S$120 million was opened to our students in July. We also continued to invest in IT such as the multi-million dollar Student Information Management System – rolled out in January this year – to ensure a robust infrastructure for course delivery, good teaching and learning support, and achieving process efficiency.

  1. We forged or renewed partnerships with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the Republic of Singapore Air Force, ST Aerospace, the Singapore Police Force, Financial Planning Association of Singapore and Raffles Dental.

  1. The outcome of our academic partnerships are the introduction of seven new degree programmes – at the undergraduate level, in Chinese Communication, Chinese Language Education, Aviation Maintenance, Aviation Business Administration, Early Childhood & Chinese Language Education, while at the postgraduate level, the disciplines were Gerontology and Human Capital Management.

  1. We have also partnered organisations such as Business China and the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations to offer new sponsorship programmes. These sponsorships will cover up to 80 per cent of total course fees of selected undergraduate programmes at UniSIM. We hope that such sponsorships will make our programmes even more affordable, hence motivating more people to pursue higher education.

  1. Since 2008, our students have been benefitting from the tuition fee subsidy which the MOE generously made available to eligible Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents taking undergraduate studies at UniSIM and part-time undergraduate programmes at publicly-funded NUS and NTU. In March this year, the subsidy for such Singapore citizens was increased from 40% to 55%. This is a privilege extended only to UniSIM students out of the thousands who study for their degrees in the Singapore private university sector. We, particularly our students, are heartened and gratified by this strong endorsement and recognition of UniSIM’s programmes and qualifications.

  1. Through the achievements and developments I have described, what the University has done is 'invest'. Whether this be in the new building, or a sophisticated Student Information Management System, the relationships with our partners, or the new programmes we have put together, UniSIM has put much effort and resources in investing for the future. The future is not so much about the University as it is about our students, and you, our graduands. It is in giving these the opportunity and means to reach their full potential, to discover, recognise and harness as yet latent or unrealised abilities and talent. And UniSIM will continue to invest in the year ahead; in quality, staff training, learning enhancements for greater flexibility and choice to our students, and infrastructural projects.

  1. Our investment is one that, over the short term, can yield modest results, in better work and learning environment, and in student learning and performance. But the real yield is in the long term, when all of you step back into the world to give your contribution and make your mark. It is what we consider investment that yields guaranteed growth and returns.

  1. But the investment is not only by us. In granting the tuition fee subsidies to our students, the Government has invested significantly in each individual, in manpower training and in sponsoring a viable pathway to a good university qualification that had not been similarly supported before in Singapore.

  1. It is also an investment by you as students. You may think that your time at university is just a necessary, sometime tortuous phase of life. Yet your time, energy and effort are used up just the same. If you think of it as a typical business investment, you would put in all you have to get the best chances of success. Not frivolously, not half-heartedly, but doggedly making sensible choices as you spend your university years, learning, networking, sensing where your strengths lie which you can capitalise on and shoring up weak spots, all the time with an eye on the future.

  1. Indeed, our recent graduate survey showed that this investment has paid off. The independent survey found that nearly six in 10 graduates from UniSIM earned more after getting their degrees with their annual salaries increased by around 21 per cent on average. Those who had a job change experienced a greater increase of 27 per cent. The UniSIM degree gave graduates better career mobility – 33 per cent moved to a different job within two years of graduation; of these, 61 per cent moved to a different industry. Many who remained with the same employer after graduation saw a boost in their career development with 54 per cent given increased responsibilities or moved on to a different position. This is truly heartening and while there is no promise the same will happen to you, we hope that you are as encouraged as we are.

  1. Let us not forget an important party who has put a stake in this venture. In your time at UniSIM, you have had to work much harder, and exercise more discipline, than those who study fulI-time at other universities. It must not have been easy to juggle career, family and social responsibilities, together with your studies. I am certain, however, that many of you couldn't have done it without the encouragement and support of your family, friends, colleagues and employers. People who had stood by you through those long days and nights. And for that, let us thank them.

  1. Finally, together, we have invested, in our society, economy and our future. Given that human capital is our country’s single-most valuable asset, the higher education that UniSIM provides, that Government funds and that you labour in, all converge to produce the much needed knowledge manpower for our economic progress and thinking citizenry for our social well-being.

  1. For UniSIM, this convocation is the end of a journey which began when we first received you as our students. It is a satisfying moment to see your accomplishments. You remain a vital part of our community, now as our alumni. I hope that you will continue to be engaged with us, connected with your fellow graduates and be a help to our students; be proud of your qualification and fly the UniSIM flag well wherever you are practising, and make a positive impact on the community you are in. Keep investing, through continuing education at your workplace and coming back to UniSIM for further education.

  1. A university's reputation and growth depend much on how its alumni impact society and how they return to serve their alma mater. UniSIM looks towards you for your support in fulfilling its educational mission. Rise up to the challenge of making this University the centre of excellence that we all want it to be.

  1. We are confident that you will make an impact in your career and family, and be a positive influence to all those around you.

  1. This is your day – may it be a truly memorable occasion. My colleagues at UniSIM and I wish you every success ahead!

  1. Thank you.
  1. Today, we are honoured to have Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister of State at thepause Ministry of Education and Ministry of Defence as our Guest-of-Honour.

  1. Mr Wong spent his earlier professional life as a civil servant. He was previously Chief Executive at the Energy Market Authority, Singapore's electricity and gas regulator, where he initiated efforts towards more competitive and sustainable energy options. He also led the implementation of the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project to secure new gas contracts for Singapore, and to build the country's first LNG terminal facility.

  1. As an economist by training, Mr Wong started his career at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, before moving to the Ministry of Finance. Over the years, he has supported the work of several high-level committees to develop and grow the economy, including the Committee on Singapore's Competitiveness, the Economic Review Committee and the Economic Strategies Committee.

  1. In 2005, Mr Wong became the Principal Private Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. Presently, he is chairing the Committee on University Education Pathways beyond 2015.

  1. It is my pleasure to invite Mr Lawrence Wong to deliver his address.

  1. Minister, please.

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