Speech by Mr. Louis Ng Kok Kwang, MP for Nee Soon GRC at the Second Reading of the Singapore University of Social Sciences Bill [Bill No. 24/2017]
Madam, I am fully supportive of this Bill to provide recognition to UniSIM as Singapore’s 6th autonomous university, granting it the same status as the existing five.
Last year, Singapore’s third law school was set up at UniSIM. It has also been increasing the number of course offerings, both for undergraduates and lifelong learners.
These are encouraging signs that since UniSIM’s humble beginnings as a small private university, it has only been growing from strength to strength.
This new Bill will give it a further boost – and the new SUSS will definitely benefit from additional funding from MOE.
The Chinese name of SUSS
Madam, I received a feedback on Facebook about the name change for the university.
Mr. Toh said “I am fine with its new name in English. As for its Chinese name, please use 新加坡社会 科学大 学, or 新社科大 in short. “新跃社会科学大学”sounds odd although I think their intention is to keep the word “新跃”
I believe that while a name could seem like a trivial matter, it ultimately carries the identity of the school, especially as it aspires towards global ambitions. Thus, it is something we should give careful consideration to.
Will the Minister consider this name change?
Courses in other subjects outside social sciences
Next, UniSIM currently offers a long list of degrees outside of the social sciences, including business, science and technology. There are some feedback about the new English name of the university as well.
Can the Minister clarify why it will be called the University of Social Sciences which seems to ignore the fact that it offers courses outside of social sciences?
Next, can the Minister clarify if SUSS will continue to offer the same range of programmes UNISIM had offered.
In the MOE press release, it did state that “The University will continue to offer the range of programmes that UniSIM had offered previously, targeted at both fresh school leavers and adult learners.”
However, in the same press release, it also stated that “At the same time, the University will continue to retain a limited offering in other areas such as business and engineering, especially for adult learners.”
Can the Minister confirm whether there will changes in the programmes offered and if so what are the changes?
If there are indeed changes, could I ask what were the factors in deciding to drop these programmes and whether they will be sufficient places at other universities for students intending to pursue them?
Will there also be any staff members affected by the change? For example, are there plans to retain or transfer the staff members for degree programmes that are dropped to other universities. Can the Minister clarify if the affected staff members have been offered assistance?
Applied learning for adult learners
Madam, I am excited about the new SUSS which will continue the current trajectory focusing on applied learning for adult learners interested in social work. I strongly support this move, as Singapore’s needs in the social sector continue to increase.
However, as much as the new SUSS can differentiate itself through its niche course offerings and flexible course arrangements, universities are ultimately pitted side by side through global rankings – and this is how they ‘compete’ for the best applicants.
We know that UniSIM is not yet on par with NUS, NTU and SMU. Just looking at one well-recognised ranking for example, QS World University Rankings, UniSIM does not feature in their list.
I suspect that a top A-level student passionate about family law may still choose to study at the more prestigious law school at NUS. Of course, this will take time, but as the new SUSS receives additional support from MOE, what are its plans to boost its reputation and quality of education? For example, will it be reaching out to well-respected academics to join as faculty members?
Lastly, with the funding now from MOE, can the Minister clarify if there would be a reduction in the programme fees.
Madam, I am proud to see that Singapore’s education industry continues to thrive. The addition of a new autonomous university will better serve our young population, adult learners and help Singapore to strengthen its position as an educational hub. As such, I stand in support of the Bill.