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Speech by Prof Cheong Hee Kiat At The RSAF & Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Uni MOU Ceremony

Speech By Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President Of SIM University At The SIM University, Republic Of Singapore Air Force And Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Memorandum Of Understanding Signing Ceremony, 3.00pm On 25 May 2011 At Air Force Training Command


Major-General Ng Chee Meng, Chief, Republic of Singapore Air Force;
Dr John Watret, Executive Vice President, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University;
Distinguished guests;
Ladies and gentlemen;


  1. Good afternoon.

  1. Today marks a significant milestone in SIM University's (or UniSIM) collaboration with both the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

  1. Since 2005, UniSIM has been providing an avenue for working adults to upgrade themselves through higher education by allowing them to study at night while they work in the day. Presently, more than 10,700 students are studying with us, while 13,600 graduates have gone out to advance their careers, and contribute better to our country.

  1. The Ministry of Education recognises UniSIM by subsidising the fees of eligible UniSIM students. From July this year, this tuition subsidy for Singapore citizens studying at UniSIM will increase from the present 40% to 55%. Most of our students enjoy this generous subsidy. They are very fortunate as, apart from the state universities, UniSIM is the only private university in Singapore given this privilege.

  1. UniSIM partners various companies to help them meet their organisational needs while enabling us to offer a spectrum of continuing education to the Singapore workforce – less formal, yet rigorous, enriching and qualification-based.

  1. One example of such enlightened partners is the Singapore Armed Forces or SAF. In 2009, the SAF signed an MOU with UniSIM to enable its regulars to upgrade by recognising selected courses taken at the Goh Keng Swee Command & Staff College as credit towards their undergraduate study at UniSIM. This collaboration builds on both the quality of courses at UniSIM and the SAF to produce a graduate capable of handling higher responsibilities within our Armed Forces.

  1. Today, 206 SAF uniformed personnel are enrolled in our programmes – of these, 142 are from the RSAF. They study a wide variety of disciplines – Communications, Psychology, Business, Logistics, Facilities Management, Electronics, Human Resources Management, Counselling, and many others.

  1. From the broad MOU with the SAF, we are now pleased to focus on a collaboration with the RSAF. RSAF personnel can join UniSIM's aerospace degree programmes which will give credits for the training they have received during their service with RSAF. For the unaware, UniSIM has not one, not two but three aerospace-related programmes: in Aerospace Systems, Aviation Maintenance and Aviation Business Administration – a rich offering to suit a range of needs and wants.

  1. We are today delighted to have Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, the world's leading aviation and aerospace university, as a partner to our two new degree programmes in Aviation Maintenance and Aviation Business Administration. For these two programmes, graduates will earn two degrees – one each from UniSIM and Embry-Riddle.

  1. While UniSIM's aerospace degrees are built on academic foundations comparable to established universities, the training is often practical, application-driven and may even integrate professionally-recognised training such as B777 Maintenance Training from Boeing. These graduates should then be able to work both on the job floor, as well as in the boardroom.

  1. The three aerospace degree programmes provide a natural pathway for servicemen in the Air Force to upgrade themselves, while continue working in the Air Force. I think of a fighter jet on a mission. A refuelling tanker comes alongside. The new supply of fuel enables the fighter to travel faster and longer and further. The refuelling can happen again and again as the mission progresses. The UniSIM education is like the fuel that the tanker supplies the RSAF fighter jet (the valuable RSAF personnel) to extend and exceed its range and capability throughout his career.

  1. In contrast with other universities, UniSIM's approaches are most suited for our men and women in uniform. Air Force personnel may be involved in military exercises here or overseas. They may also be deployed at short notice for humanitarian missions in other countries hit by disaster as the RSAF has done many times in the past. They need not worry unduly about their UniSIM studies – they must still study, but our system will enable them to continue their studies anytime, anywhere and at their own pace.

  1. At the national level, this educational venture is in line with the recommendations of the Aerospace Manpower Study commissioned by the Aerospace Human Capital Steering Committee of the Association of Aerospace Industries of Singapore. These require a multi-prong approach to attract and retain manpower for the aerospace industry – upgrade employee skills, attract qualified school-leavers to join the industry, re-skill and attract entrants from other industries.

  1. Such an approach is also applicable for the RSAF to realise its strategy to attract, upgrade, and retain talent for its Military Domain Expert Scheme, and thus increase the professional competency of our modern air force.

  1. To this end, I look forward to formalising this agreement. It is indeed a mutually beneficial partnership to meet the aspirations of the 3rd Generation Airmen. And in keeping with the nature of the partners, it promises to be a high-flying venture.

  1. Thank you.
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