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State of University Address 2016




Summary of Key Points of President Arnoud De Meyer's State of University Address


Making an Impact on the Future of Singapore

SMU is now recognised in Singapore and beyond as a dynamic and high-performing specialised university. Earlier this year, the University had proposed recommendations and submitted a paper to Singapore’s Committee on the Future of the Economy. It recommended strategies for the next stage of Singapore’s economic growth along five key areas. In sharing it with the larger community, the paper has been posted on the SMU website and Professor De Meyer wrote a commentary article offering his observations that had emerged from the SMU discussions pertaining to the strategies for the Committee.


Accelerating Towards SMU Vision 2025:

Progress report of some key achievements:


(1)  SMU as a Game Changer in Undergraduate Education

(a)  In preparing SMU students to be self-learners, creative, resilient and adaptable to changes in the global economy, SMU-X courses were integrated into the curriculum. From January 2015 to May 2016, the University ran 21 such courses for 1,535 students. They participated in as many as 270 group projects with 122 corporate partners. For academic year 2016, the University has planned 25 courses for more than 2,000 students.

(b)  A carefully curated and distinctive new scholars’ programme, SMU Global Impact Scholarship Award will be launched in early October 2016. SMU also created a first-of-its-kind Politics, Law and Economics major which was immensely popular with an oversubscription factor of 25 times, attracting many high quality applicants. In preparing students for a mindset that will enable them to thrive in an increasingly changing world, an Entrepreneurship major is being offered by the Lee Kong Chian School of Business.

(c)  The introduction of SMU Discovery Day provided a segmented approach of engaging different groups of applicants whilst keeping to SMU’s holistic admissions. It was a success with 76% of applicants who attended indicating that it helped them in their decision to accept SMU’s offer.


(2)  Game Changer in Lifelong Learning

(d)  SMU’s postgraduate research programmes have seen a growth in the overall number of PhD students. In addition, the postgraduate professional programmes grew by 16% with the total cohort currently at 1,300 students.

(e)  In Executive Development (ExD), the revenue earned was $11.5 million, registering a 20% growth as compared to the previous year. ExD reached some 2,600 executives in Singapore and the region. 

(f)    In promoting lifelong learning and SkillsFuture, SMU has set up the Academy for Continuing Education which will offer professional accreditation courses, and credit-bearing modules that will culminate in Graduate Certificates and Graduate Diplomas. Some may also be recognised for credit waivers for SMU’s Master’s programmes.


(3)  Game Changer – Out-of-Classroom-Learning

(g)  The University’s value-based learning, SMU LifeLessons, which was launched two years ago, is increasingly being integrated into students’ out-of-classroom learning experience. One example is the 2016 Freshmen Orientation Camp which had a 92% student participation rate. Students gave excellent feedback on the delivery of SMU LifeLessons.


(4)  SMU as a Catalyst in Cutting-Edge, Large-Scale Multi-disciplinary Research

(a)  SMU attained re-accreditation by AACSB for another five years under a new set of standards which require institutions to demonstrate how they meet the three pillars of Innovation, Impact and Engagement.

(b)  The Retail Centre of Excellence which aims to strengthen Singapore’s standing as Asia Pacific’s premier retail hub through talent development and applied research will be launched soon. In the redefinition and renewal of Living Analytics Research Centre (LARC 2), a grant has, in principle, been awarded.

(c)  SMU in Financial Year 2015 secured S$15.5 million in research grants and donations. Also notable is that at the end of June 2016, cumulative contracts for funding received by the School of Information Systems from external sources had exceeded S$105 million.

(d)  Progress update on several of SMU’s major projects: (i) Centre for Research on the Economics of Ageing (CREA) has conducted monthly surveys of the Singapore Life Panel involving 8,000 households on a broad range of factors. This expanding panel data set is providing a detailed picture of Singapore’s ageing population and their retirement readiness; (ii) Fujitsu-SMU Urban Computing & Engineering Corp Lab has successfully established partnerships with both private and public sector organisations to test-bed their research in an operations environment; (iii) SMU-TCS iCilty Lab has taken on a new project that will deduce living patterns and activities of the elderly so as improve the overall quality of care for the elderly who are living alone.


(5)  SMU as a Global Exemplar

(a)  Integrating SMU into the larger community as Singapore’s only city campus is a key thrust in Vision 2025. Several activities were planned over the year and these include the SMU Challenge, the Singapore Night Festival with National Heritage Board, the Philippine Art Trek 2016 with the Philippines Embassy, and the upcoming Singapore Biennale.

(b)  SMU partnered the other five local universities in hosting the 18th ASEAN University Games which attracted 1,800 athletes and officials from 10 ASEAN countries and Timor Leste. The University had 25 students as part of Team Singapore;  12 SMU students contributed 5 Gold, 1 Silver and 4 Bronze awards to Singapore’s overall 5th position. There were also 130 comprising staff and student volunteers.

(c)  In making enhancements to the SMU campus, the University created additional study spaces and these have been made available to students since the start of the academic year 2016.


(6)  SMU’s Global Reputation

(a)  In SMU’s efforts in building up a global network of partnerships, there are now a total of 228 university partners. New partnerships have been forged with the leading research-intensive universities of Edinburgh, Melbourne and Kyoto as well as in Indonesia with Universitas Gajah Mada.

(b)  Expansion of SMU’s footprint in China include the multi-faceted collaborative agreements with Shanghai Jiao Tong University for a Doctor in Business Administration programme, and in India with the Indian School of Business for collaborations in FinTech research and executive education on cross-border management.

(c)  Centre of Management Practice’s Case Writing Initiative won three awards in the EFMD Case Writing Competition. SMU is the only university in Asia to have won the most number of awards.

(d)  SMU’s schools continue to do well in their disciplinary rankings. In addition, the latest Financial Times (FT) rankings for postgraduate programmes have placed Lee Kong Chian School first in Asia and third in the world in the FT Global Masters in Finance Post-experience Ranking 2016 for its Master of Wealth Management programme; and fourth in Asia and 42nd in the world in FT’s Global Masters in Finance Pre-experience Ranking 2015 for its Master of Science in Applied Finance programme. SMU’s Executive MBA’s debut in the FT saw it ranked 10th in Asia and 36th globally, the highest-ranked new entrant in 2015.


(7)  SMU’s alumni base has grown to be more than 17,000 strong. The Office of Alumni Relations has successfully created targeted events based on interest groups and industry sectors to reach out to more alumni


(8)   Financial strength: In Financial Year 2015, SMU raised $38 million, which includes one-to one government matching from the Ministry of Education (MoE).


(9)  Looking Ahead, Accelerating SMU Vision 2025

(a)  SMU will be undergoing a third validation under the MoE’s Quality Assurance Framework for Universities. The review is conducted once every five years and involves submission of a university self-assessment report as well as a five-day on-site validation visit by an MoE appointed external review panel. Following the review, the University will receive feedback and recommendations for development.


(10)   Game Changer for Lifelong Learning

(a)  Several initiatives on accelerating ahead with SMU as a Game Changer include continuing efforts to improve the quality of the University’s undergraduate intake and incorporating innovation in what is being offered to the prospective students.

(b)  SMU will also continue to grow its Postgraduate Programmes (PGPP) in quality and quantity. The quality of PGPP can be improved by making more and more of them as channels through which the University will diffuse some of the research.

(c)  SMU’s differentiation in the learning environment is based on three pillars: SMU’s hallmark holistic approach; the recently introduced experiential learning under SMU-X; and technology enhanced innovation. More faculty members are encouraged to tap on the President’s Incentive for Blended Learning. The University will also ensure that the three pillars on which SMU’s differentiation is built match each other’s strengths.

(d)  Continuing Education is a growing activity for SMU. The University will coordinate and integrate the portfolio of offerings and ensure that it provides a seamless service to its customer base.


(11)   Catalyst for Research

(a)  SMU will continue to build up a rich, conducive research environment with strong support. It will continue the momentum in obtaining and executing larger scale research programmes. These include research projects with agencies under the Ministry of Home Affairs; finalising the initiatives for the Retail Centre and LARC2.

(b)  With the University’s focus on larger scale, impact driven research that have resulted in the need for translation into downstream applicability, a Technology Transfer unit under the auspices of Office of Research will be established.

(c)  SMU is undertaking an accreditation exercise by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programmes and aims to attain the gold standard of the accreditation for the Human Research Protection Programmes worldwide.


(12)   Global Exemplar

(a)  More time will be spent to raise the profile of SMU in the large ASEAN countries which includes Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam. There are plans to create advisory councils in each of these countries.

(b)  SMU’s expanded three-storey Fitness Centre rising from the Concourse will soon be officially opened. Campus Green renovations are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2017 with a centralised Co-Curricular Activities space facing Campus Green; and a new Amphitheatre for student and community engagement activities; and a jogging track on the Green.

(c)  The new School of Law building will begin operations in January 2017. With the new spaces available, the University will hold some of its conferences and key events such as Commencement and Convocation on campus.

(d)  The University is in the process of seeking the necessary approvals for a new SMU-X Building and hope to get it ready for students by 2019.

(e)  The effort to create vertical type of activities for alumni is to continue. The University will also find ways to involve more alumni in shaping its future.


Accelerating the Professionalism of the University

In order to accelerate the implementation of SMU Vision 2025, constant improvements to the organisations will need to be made.

(f)    In constantly improving cybersecurity, SMU will strengthen its capabilities in data management.

(g)  The University will, in its allocation of resources, be reviewing the process to have a better understanding of strategic projects and will expect productivity improvements.

(h)  Increased collaborations across departments, in particular, day-to-day operations management are needed.


SMU’s Future

SMU will continue to build up with energy and confidence and leverage the diverse range of talents and expertise across the university. Working collaboratively will bring out the best of available opportunities and resources, and give the University community the added strength and momentum to accelerate ahead towards Vision 2025.

By constantly evolving to stay strong, fit, agile, relevant and focused, SMU can realise its vision of becoming a Great University.




Last updated on 31 Oct 2017.