October 10, 2018
Speech by Mr Chee Hong Tat, Senior Minister of State, Ministry of Education, at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) Convocation 2018 Opening Session
Madam Halimah Yacob, President of Singapore
Mr Stephen Lee, Chancellor, Singapore University of Social Sciences
Professor Cheong Hee Kiat, President, Singapore University of Social Sciences
Ladies and gentleman
1. A very good morning to all of you. It gives me great pleasure to join you at the opening session of the SUSS 2018 Convocation ceremony.
2. I am delighted to see a diverse group of graduands today. Some of you are working adults who took up part-time degrees to enhance your skills and deepen your knowledge. I salute you for your efforts to take up this challenge, while balancing your work, family and study commitments. We also have business leaders in our midst, who embarked on an executive programme in the School of Business. I hope you have found the experience an enriching one, and the network and knowledge you have acquired through the programme will help you to build and grow your companies to greater heights.
3. We have a third group of graduands here this morning. They are the inaugural batch of graduands from the full-time undergraduate degree programme offered by SUSS. The full-time undergraduate programmes were started in 2014 to provide students with more options for degree education that have strong work-study elements and industry linkages. With SUSS becoming our 6th Autonomous University last year, it is offering its unique brand of high-quality applied education to meet the education aspirations of our students and the economic needs of our industries.
4. The diverse profiles of graduands at today’s ceremony reflects SUSS’s strength as a university for lifelong learning, catering to one’s learning needs throughout different stages in life. I would like to offer my heartiest congratulations to all of you. Many thanks also to our lecturers, as well as the families and friends of our graduands. I am sure our graduands would agree that your support and encouragement have been important pillars of strength for them. May I invite our graduands to show your appreciation with a round of applause for your lecturers, family members and friends?
THE SUSS DNA
5. Ladies and gentlemen, as a full-fledged university, SUSS’s ‘Head’, ‘Heart’ and ‘Habit’ philosophy encapsulates its holistic brand of education which seeks to develop students into well-rounded and capable professionals, entrepreneurs and innovators.
6. One of the foundations at SUSS is a practice-oriented focus – bringing industry and real-life situations into the classroom, and encouraging students to apply what they have learnt at work and in their daily life. This is facilitated by the diversity in the SUSS student body, which includes many part-time students who have already started working. It allows for rich exchanges and mutual learning between adult learners and full-time students, as they take many modules together.
7. SUSS students also benefit from its numerous partnerships with businesses on work projects and opportunities. An example is the entrepreneurship programme with Alibaba Cloud, which SUSS launched in July last year. Under this programme, students develop their ideas for a start-up while being mentored by Alibaba senior executives and C-suite industry experts. They would pitch their ideas to venture capitalists and angel investors. If funding is successfully secured, the students earn credits and receive a Minor in Entrepreneurship. From the first three intakes for this programme, seven teams have successfully secured funding. Well done, and I hope to see more of such efforts by students in the coming years!
8. Another example is the SUSS-Tencent WeChat overseas internship, which provides opportunities for students to gain direct work experience with international companies and develop a deeper understanding of the business environments and social cultures in other countries. This is important because we are now operating in a globalised world and economy. Understanding the business environments and social cultures in other countries will be an important skillset and an asset for all our graduates. I encourage SUSS to also forge similar partnerships with other companies and broaden the range of opportunities and markets, which will give our students wider exposure for experiential learning.
9. More importantly, these programmes teach our students to be resilient and always ready for change. Your education in SUSS has not only prepared you for your first or current job, it has also helped you to be adaptable and to learn new skills in future.
10. As you graduate from SUSS, I hope one of the key takeaways is the passion for lifelong learning. Just a month ago, I was here at SUSS to launch SUSS LifE, at the College of Lifelong and Experiential Learning, or CLEL for short. I am happy to see that SUSS has offered a wide variety of lifelong learning opportunities for learners at different life-stages. This is a significant move as SUSS further strengthens its position to be a university of choice for lifelong learning.
11. Ms Catherine Chan is one of our graduands today. Catherine has worked in different industries – IT, lifestyle, and pharmaceutical companies. She remains keen to learn and grow her skills even after reaching the apex of her career. After completing her MBA several years ago, she embarked on the SUSS Executive Management Programme (EMP) to gain new knowledge and stay relevant amid rapid technological changes and global competition. She also wanted to network with and learn from like-minded business leaders. I am heartened to learn about Catherine’s passion for learning, and would like to wish her all the very best.
12. SUSS will continue to expand its offerings of courses for working adults, to help them build a wider repertoire of skills. I encourage our adult learners to follow in Catherine’s footsteps and tap on the many opportunities available under SkillsFuture and lifelong learning. The government will support these initiatives, as we believe that investing in our people’s education and lifelong learning is an investment in Singapore’s future.
Service to Community
13. I am also glad to see that your time in the university has left a positive imprint of SUSS’s values on many of you. Ms Amanda Chiam Hui Juin, who is a full-time Accountancy graduand from the School of Business, co-founded ‘Learn, Love, Live’, a service-learning initiative with Pertapis Welfare Trust Fund, to provide an education empowerment programme for school-going children. Amanda and her team, who received the Pertapis Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2016 and 2017, organised outings and weekly tuition for the students, and involved their parents in regular conversation and activities. Amanda has also turned her brainchild into a sustainable legacy by mentoring her juniors to run the programme. I understand she is also one of the winners of SUSS’s inaugural Service-Learning Award today – congratulations Amanda!
14. Mr Low Lai Choon is another commendable example. He pursued his MBA part-time while continuing to perform a senior management role at work. He first graduated from then-UniSIM with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing in 2016. He continued to pursue his MBA with SUSS as a next step of his continual learning journey. Like Amanda, Lai Choon contributes to society by volunteering with the Children Cancer Society, after learning about their work in one of his MBA programme modules.
15. As you embark on your next chapter, I encourage you to put to good use what you have acquired through SUSS, in your work and in your life. As the Chinese saying goes, “学以致用” – apply what you have learnt.
16. For Singapore to grow and develop further, we must have a culture which supports continual pursuit of knowledge, innovation and improvements so that we remain globally competitive and socially cohesive in a fast-changing economy. As we strive for growth, let’s not forget to bring all fellow Singaporeans along, so that we can grow together and remain as one united people.
17. My heartiest congratulations once again to each and every one of you. I wish you good health, success and happiness, and hope you continue to keep in touch with SUSS and your course mates through the alumni network.
18. Thank you.