​NTU Convocation 2017

Published on : 26-Jul-2017

​Speech by
Professor Bertil Andersson
President, Nanyang Technological University Singapore

NTU Convocation 2017

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Chancellor, Nanyang Technological University 
His Excellency President Tony Tan Keng Yam,

Minister for Education, (Higher Education and Skills) Mr Ong Ye Kung


Chairman, Mr Koh Boon Hwee, NTU Board of Trustees, 

Members, NTU Board of Trustees


President Emeritus,

Honorary Doctorate Recipients, 

Distinguished guests,

Graduates and family members, 

Alumni and friends of the University, 

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Good morning everyone and a warm welcome to Nanyang Technological University's Convocation 2017. Today is a day of celebration - celebration of the individual achievements of all the graduants but also celebration of NTU.

Yes, the annual convocation is indeed the highlight of the university’s annual calendar, so to all the graduates I congratulate you on your achievements. You have reached a worthy goal and today is sort of the first day in the rest of your life. This morning the people who supported you along the way- your parents, loved ones, faculty mentors and the staff of the university are here to celebrate with you - actually all your dedicated supporters should also be celebrated this morning.

Over the next 7 days, as many as 9,595 graduates will receive their degree scrolls during 19 ceremonies. Impressive numbers!

For me personally this is a special convocation, I’ve been standing here 11 times before, and it will be my last convocation as President of NTU. I have had the privilege to have spent over 10 years in Singapore and NTU - a very rewarding time. It has given me the opportunity to contribute to NTU's rapid progress together with the university's management, faculty and staff, as well as alumni. In addition the Board of Trustees, Chancellors and Pro-Chancellors, government bodies not the least Ministry of Education as well as other stakeholders from the private as well as the public sectors have played very crucial roles and been valued partners. And on top of that, I have been able to interact with many, many students and student leaders through the years - students that any university President in the world would envy to have.

This morning we also have two highly distinguished graduates who will be conferred Honorary Doctorates. They are Professor James Barber and Professor Helga Nowotny. Professor Barber is the Ernst Chain Professor Emeritus of Biochemistry at Imperial College London. He will be conferred an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa. This is in recognition of his exceptional and outstanding contributions to photosynthesis research and in setting up the Solar Fuel Laboratory at NTU.

Professor Helga Nowotny is Professor Emerita of Social Studies of Science at ETH, Zurich and the former President of the European Research Council. Professor Nowotny is one of the most influential social scientists in Europe and an indefatigable champion of interdisciplinary research. She has in a significant way contributed to the development of the NTU College of Humanities, Art and Social Sciences and to Social Sciences in Singapore.

Singapore is a young nation and Nanyang Technological University is also a young university, only last year NTU celebrated its silver jubilee, meaning that we today can celebrate our 26 years in existence, meaning half the time of Singapore, because Singapore is celebrating its 52 years. Today, NTU is firmly established as a world-class university and its global reputation attracts world- acclaimed professors, researchers and scholars as well as top level national and international students. A lot of universities as well as industry and businesses want to have NTU as a partner with it comes to Education, Research, as well as Innovation.

You may have noticed in the press that NTU recently was ranked by QS in London as No. 11 in the world, the highest ranking any Asian university ever have reached. For the 4th consecutive year, we are the No. 1 young university in the world. Our engineering is No. 4 in the world.

One should of course always take various league tables with a pinch of salt and also the various rankings show different results but it is safe to say that NTU's rapidly increasing reputation also has added to the value of the NTU degrees for this year's graduants as well as for previous degrees given to our alumni.

And I think we all should be very pleased by that fact. But the coin has two sides - the increased reputation will facilitate you getting a good job but the reputation will also increase the employer's expectation. Noticeably though, the top-level ranking for NTU I just mentioned was to a significant extent due to an increased satisfaction by employers who had experience from NTU students.

Research has in recent years been more prevalent in Singapore and NTU. But it’s important to stress, education remains a key mission for our university. But just like research is in constant development, so is education as a reflection of a changing society and technology. New learning paradigms and technology also change not only what to learn but also how to learn. Employers want our graduates to have 21st century skills and this is not only competence, which is important but not sufficient. Other things included character, creativity, civic mindedness and communication skills. We talk about the 5 Cs for a complete education.

The iconic building the Hive is today a symbol for NTU's modern education approach including flipped classrooms and team-based learning and also involving residential learning.

NTU is also approaching new groups in the Singapore society in its dedicated efforts when it comes to continuous education. No one can any longer rely on one education during a lifetime but there will be a need to top one's skills or even go into new areas of competences, which we today have not even started to realise what they will be. That is a crucial fundament of 21st century learning and NTU is leading the way through its new college PACE.

The NTU campus has since the last convocation undergone significant developments. Many new student facilities, new learning places, shops and canteens plus of course many more student dorms. Today, NTU campus can house almost 17,000 students and that is a very very high number by international standards. The new big sports hall, the Wave, promises to be a new iconic building on campus and it is the biggest wooden building in Singapore. The new clinical science building at Novena for our new Medical School is impressive, it’s the biggest academic building in Singapore. It will provide top level  and modern clinical training for the medical students.

As I already mentioned, NTU has significantly developed its research in the last decade. That has been crucially supported for Singapore's quantum leap on the international scientific scene. NTU’s research portfolio today is very broad, ranging from humanities, business to engineering, from pure to applied research and it’s both of them. The latter involves many collaborations with national as well as international companies. Furthermore, through its new medical school, NTU is getting more and more into research related to medicine and healthcare such as Diabetes, Genomics and also issues around the aging society.

NTU is today also making dedicated efforts to turn research by the National Research Foundation that has been instrumental investments into innovation and creation of start-up companies. For example, the collaboration of NTU with Israeli universities, private companies and the city of Haifa will immerse Singapore students in the entrepreneurial culture of the Start-up Nation and also provide many research projects with highly strategic relevance within the innovation space. I should also mention the engagement in Guangzhou, China where NTU together with other Singaporean and Chinese stakeholders will develop a strong innovation hub.

NTU will this year also be responsible for the Wealth Management Institute (WMI). This will allow a synergistic collaboration in Education and Research between NTU and the crucial Singaporean Finance Industry - a project where NTU indeed from its academic standpoint aims to directly contribute to the Singapore economy.

Let me end my speech here this morning by touching on our Alumni. I said earlier that for the graduants, it is their first day in the rest of their lives. It is also their first day as NTU alumni - I hope of course you will be very active alumni and come here quite often. You will join over 220,000 Alumni from over 160 nationalities - the vast majority of course from Singapore (about 80%). Notably a good portion of our alumni comes from NTU's pre-cursor institutes, Nanyang University and NTI, thereby providing a good platform for promoting our universities legacy.

Through the newly formed NTU Alumni Council, the activities will be better aligned to the various Alumni priorities and needs. Alumni should support the university and the university should support the Alumni. But Alumni should also support Alumni. NTU has therefore this year created three Alumni  houses in Singapore - one at Marina Square in the centre of the city, one at One-North and one out here at the main campus. The ambition is of course that these alumni houses should provide useful and attractive interaction platforms for our Alumni.

In closing, I want to express my appreciation to everyone who has contributed to the significant and successful development of NTU - the Chancellor, the Education Ministry, our Pro­Chancellors, the NTU Chairman and Board of Trustees, the NTU Management, and last but not least to our dedicated professors, faculty and staff, alumni and, of course, our wonderful students and graduating students.

Once again, my heartiest congratulations to the Class of 2017. Now is the best time to cultivate your curiosity and follow your dreams. Let your NTU star shine, and good things will follow. To have a degree from a top level university is the best ticket for a fruitful and successful career journey.

Thank you very much and good luck!

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