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Speech by Professor Cheong Hee Kiat At The SIM University Convocation 2016

Speech by Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, SIM University, At The SIM University Convocation 2016 On 12 October 2016, 9.30am, The Grand Hall Of SIM University

Guest-of-Honour, Mr Ong Ye Kung, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education & Skills) and Senior Minister of State for Defence;
Professor Aline Wong, Chancellor, SIM University;
Members, SIM University Board of Trustees;
Graduands, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen;

  1. I warmly welcome all of you to SIM University Convocation 2016. 

Convocation 2016 

  1. This year, SIM University (or UniSIM) will see 2,134 graduands presented over five ceremonies. Among them are our pioneer batches of graduands from the undergraduate programmes in Aviation Business Administration, Sociology with Security Studies, Psychology with Security Studies, and Communication with English Language. 

Looking ahead – UniSIM 

  1. In the last year, UniSIM has made strides in the provision of applied and lifelong learning for adult learners. We introduced a new graduate programme in Non-Profit Management, and between now and 2017 will offer graduate programmes in Applied Research in Social Sciences, IP and Innovation Management, Counselling (specialising in couple and family therapy), and Early Childhood Education in Chinese. We have set up our Law School which aims to develop a breed of law graduates with a focus on family and criminal law, many of whom will come from mid-career.
  1. We started new full-time programmes in Social Work and Supply Chain Management, in addition to the four we were already running. Next year, we will take in our first students in Early Childhood Education and Business Analytics.
  1. Many of the areas for new programmes and research are directed at supporting social development and increasing social resilience – areas which will be of increasing concern in Singapore as we face demographic, economic and social shifts.
  1. Since the launch of the SkillsFuture movement, we have intensified our effort in supplying opportunities for continuing education on a need and just-in-time basis, for both work and personal development. We will do more to promote learning among our adults throughout their lives, modifying and re-purposing our courses for knowledge and skills refreshing all through a person’s work life and beyond.
  1. We have enhanced our blended learning delivery and our iStudyGuides, not just to give mobility and that anytime-anywhere-any pace learning freedom, but also to use technology to boost learning effectiveness. In the years ahead, we will focus our effort on strengthening learning support to increase the success of our students even as we open more pathways for learners to take our courses. Our Teaching and Learning Centre will be reinforced to develop pedagogies for adult learning; we will intentionally harness technology, including learning analytics, to personalise and appropriately support our students’ learning. All of these will raise further the good quality of education we are already providing.
  1. We will mine our data as an evidence-based approach in our learning support and institutional decision-making. To this end, we have set up an Institutional Research and Analytics Unit to serve our needs in learning, operations and stakeholder relationships.

Role Modelling – UniSIM and our graduates

  1. As we move in these directions, we hope to develop a different model of university education, charting new pathways for learning and growth that serve the future needs of our population in an uncertain volatile future world. This fits in well with the theme of this year’s convocation, viz., “Role modelling the future”.
  1. But then, whatever we do, it is only half the story. The other half has to do with you, our graduates.
  1. You have completed a gruelling period of studies and are armed with a good university qualification – an achievement we all recognise and applaud. New opportunities have opened up for you, and now, it is up to each one to make the most of these opportunities and to raise the level of your contribution, for self and for society. We have every confidence you can.
  1. In completing your programme, you showed that qualification upgrading can occur after one has gone to work first, that the continuous cycle of work and learn is natural and beneficial, that it is possible to juggle busy work and life schedules with studies, that learning can be done at every stage of life and at all ages. Among our students, past and present, are those who have studied while battling cancer and other conditions like cerebral palsy and physical disability, those who seem to be forever young, like one of our students pursuing our Bachelor of General Studies at 81 years old, or another who is a medical doctor but finished our social work programme, and a senior who wanted to help other seniors through completing our Master in Gerontology programme at 60 years old.
  1. You, and they, are role-modelling for others, and pointing to what the future will require of every adult. You are lighting the path for others to follow. But, don’t stop there! You have been on the lifelong learning train, don’t get off. Come back to the university for more courses – you already know how to do it well. Bring another along; be a learning mentor, and be people who will lift others in their time of need. And, as our alumni, join us to teach in our courses – you know best how to help others to upgrade their skills.

Final exhortation

  1. Class of 2016, you’ve succeeded. Congratulations! You did not succeed alone. Many others paid a price to get you here today. Recall – who accompanied you to success? – your loved ones, family, parents, spouses, children, friends, teachers, encouragers. They gave something of themselves for you, too. If you are not grateful to them, then we have toiled with you in vain, degree or no degree! Let us thank them all now.
  1. Together, let us make UniSIM strong and a force for good in our society. Congratulations and thank you.

Introduce Minister Ong

  1. Ladies and gentlemen, it is now my privilege to introduce our Guest-of-Honour, Mr Ong Ye Kung, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education & Skills) and Senior Minister of State for Defence.
  1. Mr Ong is a Member of Parliament for the Sembawang GRC and a Minister in the Singapore Cabinet. Prior to his Cabinet appointment, he was Director of Group Strategy at Keppel Corporation, overseeing long term strategic planning of the Group’s activities. Before joining Keppel, he was the Deputy Secretary-General of the National Trades Union Congress, overseeing the labour movement’s employment and employability programmes.
  1. Mr Ong had earlier also held various senior positions in the civil service. These include Chief Executive of the Singapore Workforce Development Agency, Deputy Chief Negotiator for the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, and Principal Private Secretary and Press Secretary to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.
  1. Mr Ong obtained first class honours in Economics from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and holds a Master of Business Administration from the Institute of Management Development, Switzerland.
  1. Just one more detail – Mr Ong was a member of the UniSIM Board of Trustees when it was set up. It is good to have you back, Sir!

It is my pleasure to invite Minister Ong to address us today.

Mr Ong, please.


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