International Academic Advisory Panel Supports Efforts Under Skillsfuture to Promote Lifelong Learning and Innovation

Published Date: 26 June 2015 12:00 AM

News Press Releases

1.The 10th meeting of the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) International Academic Advisory Panel (IAAP) was held in Singapore from 24 to 26 June 2015. The IAAP is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and comprises 13 other members who are distinguished leaders in academia and industry from around the world.

2.At its 10th meeting, the IAAP discussed the role of universities in lifelong learning and innovation. The Panel also discussed the upcoming establishment of a Social Science Research Council (SSRC), and supported the intent to strengthen social science and humanities research in Singapore.

Developments since the 9th IAAP Meeting

3.The IAAP commended the major transformation of our university sector in the last decade, and the significant progress made since the last IAAP meeting held in 2012. Since the 9th IAAP, MOE has expanded the number of publicly-funded degree places for Singaporeans and achieved the Cohort Participation Rate (CPR) target of 30% in 2014, one year ahead of schedule. MOE is on track to reach a CPR of 40% by 2020. They noted the new institutions and new degree pathways established over the last five years, namely the Singapore University of Technology and Design which took in its first intake in 2012, the Nanyang Technological University’s Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine and Yale-NUS College which took in their first intakes in 2013, and the applied degree programmes launched by the Singapore Institute of Technology and SIM University in 2014.

Highlights of the 10th IAAP Meeting

4.The IAAP expressed strong support for Singapore’s emphasis on lifelong learning and innovation under the SkillsFuture movement. It commended the Autonomous Universities’ initiatives and future plans in these areas. The Panel acknowledged that preparing Singaporeans for jobs of the future would require a tighter nexus between educational institutions, employers, and society. It emphasised the need for our universities to be nimble and flexible, and to take a longer-term perspective even as they respond to today’s challenges.

5.The IAAP agreed that the changing demands of the workplace, as well as the emergence of new models and enablers of education and training such as online learning, makes it imperative that our universities consider what their unique value proposition is and what their role in the current and future education and training landscape should be.

6.The Panel advocated diversity in the university and higher education landscape in the design and provision of lifelong learning, to cater to individuals with varying needs, interests, and affinities. Panel members supported the offering of bite-sized modules to support lifelong learning, such as in new, specialised skills. They also emphasised the importance of ensuring that an undergraduate education prepares students well for the journey of continual learning. In particular, the universities should not neglect the cultivation of broader capabilities and soft skills, which are critical needs in industry and society, during the undergraduate years. They should continue to place a strong focus on two key roles – training individuals to learn how to think, learn and be responsible citizens; and undertaking research aimed at creating new knowledge.

7.The IAAP encouraged the universities to adopt a long-term view in implementing initiatives for lifelong learning and innovation. Some experimentation will be required, in order to identify the most effective ways of learning at different life stages. An important aspect of the implementation process would therefore be to measure and evaluate the outcomes of these initiatives, both in undergraduate programmes and in continual learning. Panel members felt that Singapore and its universities could be among the leaders in assuring sustained quality in lifelong learning.

Social Science and Humanities Research

8.The IAAP welcomed the upcoming establishment of a Social Science Research Council (SSRC) in Singapore. The Panel discussed possible approaches and initiatives that the SSRC could pursue to develop high-quality social science research in Singapore that could be brought to bear on issues of strategic relevance to Singapore and the region. It also suggested that the SSRC could support more mission-driven and thematic social science research, and encourage inter-disciplinary social science research on issues of importance to Singapore.


The IAAP was established in 1997 by MOE to advise MOE and Singapore’s universities on major trends and directions in university education and research with a view to developing them into world-class institutions of excellence. Its role has since been broadened to encompass the provision of guidance on the development of Singapore’s tertiary sector as a whole. The IAAP meets every two to three years. Its last meeting was in July 2012.

The 10th IAAP is chaired by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, and comprises 13 other members who are distinguished leaders in academia and industry from Finland, India, Republic of Korea, Germany, the People’s Republic of China, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. The Presidents of Singapore’s five autonomous universities – the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Management University, Singapore University of Technology and Design, and Singapore Institute of Technology – serve as ex-officio members. The full list of IAAP members can be found in the Annex.

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