Welcome Address by Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, SUSS President, at the SUSS Ministerial Forum on Wednesday, 4 September 2019, The Performing Arts Theatre
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong;
Mr Stephen Lee, SUSS Chancellor;
Mr Richard Eu, Chairman, and members, SUSS’ Board of Trustees
Distinguished guests, students and colleagues;
Good afternoon. A warm welcome to all of you to the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS).
And it is my privilege to welcome Prime Minister Lee to our inaugural SUSS Ministerial Forum 2019. Thank you, Prime Minister.
It was in 2012 that PM last visited us. We were then known as SIM University. It was a significant year for us, when we were formally asked to participate in the government’s plan to raise the cohort higher education participation rate, making publicly-funded university education even more accessible to Singaporeans. Several of our programmes then became funded for full-time studies by the government, although even before that, our part-time students were already enjoying government fee subsidies for their studies here.
The first seeds were planted for the university to join the national university system and prepare for future growth. Since then, we have not looked back.
In 2017, SUSS was accorded yet another privilege, becoming Singapore’s sixth Autonomous University.
Along with this advancement, we also proudly birthed Singapore’s third Law School.
When we were re-named as the Singapore University of Social Sciences, it became clear to us that we must strive to ingrain a strong and positive social perspective in all our disciplines. We want to inspire in our students, faculty and staff to be people-centric, and have a passion to serve society and to do good. We started off providing degree qualification upgrading for working adults and adult learners – the provision of lifelong learning opportunities is still our primary focus; but now, we have added the understanding and application of the social sciences to forge a strong combination with lifelong applied education.
Whether our students and faculty are in early childhood education, social work, fin-tech, business analytics, facilities management, supply chain management or psychology, the common thread is people and how their lives can be improved, and enjoyed!
Education plays an important role in shaping the future economic well-being and quality of life for our nation. It informs, enlightens, motivates, brings people together, raises hope – for the individual as well as for society, It is also increasingly posited as a social leveller. And our university’s multi-pathway wide-door admission framework has enabled SUSS to make our brand of applied education a beacon of opportunity for learners of all walks of life. But, not without the required quality of our narrow-exit academic rigour. Today, there are over 30,000 SUSS alumni and every year, more than 15,000 students learn with us on a full and part-time basis. Some of them are here this afternoon, eager to dialogue with PM.
The theme of today’s forum, “The role of Education” is apt as we live in a highly disrupted world that can threaten jobs, livelihoods, social cohesion, but which also brings opportunities to the nimble and willing learner. We may be spurred to ask:
- How can we use education to help shape the social landscape of Singapore in the years to come?
- What more can be done, at the state, community and individual level, to help ensure that social issues are adequately addressed?
- How do we nurture an inclusive heart and inclusive attitude in people, and towards people? Can these even be taught and learnt?
We look forward to a lively and engaging discussion, and also hope that this forum will spark new ideas to spur us on.
On behalf of SUSS, thank you Prime Minister Lee once again, for gracing our forum today.