Professor Bertil Andersson
President, Nanyang Technological University
SCHOLARS AWARD CEREMONY 2017
Thursday, 22 September 2017, 3.00pm
Ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to the NTU Scholars Award Ceremony 2017!
It’s fantastic to see many happy faces here today. And you have something to be happy about. To all our scholars and scholarship recipients, you are about to embark on a most fantastic learning journey at NTU. I also see some proud parents out here. I’m also a parent myself, I’m not only a university president. I know this is important, when your children, sons and daughters, have progressed. So congratulations to all students, congratulations to all parents!
Today, we have 453 outstanding freshmen here with us this afternoon. Many of them have been selected to join one of NTU’s premier scholars’ programmes, awarded the Nanyang Scholarships -- or actually both.
You have worked hard, you have worked smart, and you have succeeded, that’s great. You will soon discover why NTU is your best choice. The Renaissance Engineering Programme, the CN Yang Scholars Programme, the NTU University Scholars Programme and the NTU-NIE Teaching Scholars Programme each offers plenty of learning opportunities at one of the world’s top universities, including overseas exchange in other top universities. I am sure, I am completely convinced, you will find yourself embarking on a highly intellectual and enriching journey.
We also have with us today 31 graduate students who are recipients of the Nanyang President’s Graduate Scholarship Award. At NTU, you will be mentored by and will have the opportunity to work closely with internationally renowned faculty.
More top students choose NTU
NTU has been very successful in the last five years attracting many top senior scientists as well as outstanding junior faculty from Singapore and abroad. NTU’s ability to draw top talent has been an important factor in its rapid growth into a leading global university.
You see, what is a university? A university, in the first case, is the people. The second most important thing is the people. Third thing, the people. People, people and people. That’s what makes a university. Good professors, good students, good president. That’s what it’s all about.
We have also attracted many leading companies such as Rolls Royce, BMW, Johnson Matthey and Lockheed Martin, you know them all, they have set up joint labs with us. They are going to be an asset for you. These companies actually complement our academic studies. Over the years, we have also invested in building world-class learning and recreational facilities and developing innovative new ways of learning, learning for the 21st century.
NTU’s elevated international standing has probably played some part in helping the university attract top talent from around the world. As you may be aware, I’m sorry to be modest now, NTU is ranked 11th in the world, not in Asia, not in Singapore, but in the world, in the latest QS World University Rankings. Like I have always said, Singapore should be very proud that Singapore, as a small country, has two top universities in the world. I think that is a big achievement that Singaporeans should be proud of. NTU has also been the Best Young University for four years now. Of course, we are only founded in our present configuration in 1991, we are 26 years old, actually that’s exactly half the number of years of Singapore.
Thriving in a world-class campus
There are many rankings, and one ranking is about campuses. We have been named by American Express’ Travel and Leisure magazine as one of the 15 most beautiful campuses in the World. I live on campus, I love it here. I am sure there is much to look forward to in your time in NTU. Many alumni have spoken passionately of their time here on campus. For those of you who are staying in NTU’s halls of residence, it will be an integral part of your life as a student.
In the last few years, we have actually built a lot of the buildings here. 90 per cent of freshmen can now live on campus, actually everyone that wants to can live here. There will also be new buildings for teaching and learning. Altogether, 17,000 students are living on campus. That’s probably one of the top five universities in the world when it comes to residential living. 1000 professors live on campus. It’s a fantastic environment.
We also started something called a residential education, that is education that goes beyond the curriculum—how to plant trees, how to fix a bike, do 3D printing, as well as learning how to cook in our experimental kitchens.
If you are inspired by the recent Southeast Asian Games, you can train at our new sports hall, The Wave. With a continuous 72-metre wavy roof, the Wave is the first large-scale building in Southeast Asia built using wood. It’s a big wooden building in Singapore and that’s really cool. It has an air-conditioned system without using extra energy. That’s also fantastic green engineering.
In NTU, we also have new ways of learning, learning for the 21st century. You will learn, in what we call the flipped classroom, team-based learning using computers. The Hive, I’m sure you’ve seen it, is the icon of that new way of learning. So being a passive consumer of traditional lectures is not an example of 21st century learning at NTU.
As scholars and scholarship recipients, many opportunities will be available to you, including going on research attachments and internships in countries all over the world. After all, the work market is international. Very few of you will only work in Singapore, in Singaporean companies. The university is a living test-bed for many new technologies. As I have mentioned, we have top-level companies in the world, Rolls Royce, BMW, Lockheed Martin at the campus. But we also work with the society, trying to solve problems related to ageing society, culture and cultural identity. These are very important soft skills that we have to provide.
In closing, the university has much to offer and I encourage you to seize every learning opportunity. We provide you with talented and dedicated professors from all corners of the world as your mentors, you have access to world-class learning facilities and resources and there will also be opportunities for you to learn from top overseas universities and leading global companies. It’s also important to remember to learn from each other. Group discussions, having a coffee together, and doing things. I think you should never underestimate that. That means how far you would go, how far you would benefit, depends a lot on you. I think that’s good. You are your own bosses, right? And I, standing here today, this is the last time, because I’m going to retire on 1 Jan next year, so I cannot see you through all the way. There’s going to be a fantastic replacement in Prof Subra Suresh from Carnegie Mellon who’s going to take over after me. And I have every confidence that you will go on to achieve your full potential as a scholar, a scholar at NTU.
Thank you very much.