I HAVE had a long and active association with the National University of Singapore (NUS). Over the years, I have been involved with NUS in different capacities: first, as a student, then as a faculty member, vice-chancellor, and Minister for Education.
I started out as an undergraduate in the Faculty of Science in the University of Malaya in 1959. In 1967, I joined the then University of Singapore as a lecturer in mathematics.
In 1980, after some time in OCBC Bank and the Government, I came back to the University of Singapore as vice-chancellor and saw through the merger of the University of Singapore and Nanyang University, which formed the National University of Singapore as we know it today.
Finally, as an alumnus, and in my official capacity as Minister for Education from 1985 to 1991 and now chairman of the International Academic Advisory Panel, I have had the good fortune to be part of the effort to nurture and support NUS in its drive to become a world-class university.
NUS is the jewel in the educational crown of Singapore.
Through its initiatives, NUS has taken the lead in setting the standard for university education in Singapore.
The various changes that NUS has undertaken in its curriculum, teaching and research, have been in response to the economic, social and political developments that have taken place in Singapore over the last 30 years.
For NUS to continue to play its role as the leading university in Singapore, it cannot rest on its laurels but must constantly update its vision and educational and research capabilities to keep pace with the needs of society and the economy.
One of the areas that NUS could consider would be how to prepare students for a longer working life and the many changes in the job market which young people will have to face in a modern Singapore.
The days are long gone when students can hope to leave the university with a set of skills that would enable them to remain gainfully employed in a particular job or appointment for the rest of their working lives.
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