Over the virtual conference on 26 and 27 April, university leaders discussed the way forward for ASEAN higher education institutions, and agreed that embracing digitalisation with remote learning, as well as community safety and inclusivity, were top priorities.
“Universities have to adjust teaching and learning, student engagement and research, to adapt to the new COVID-19 world. We have to stay ahead of the fast-changing environment, so that we can prepare our students to be flexible and agile for new and exciting opportunities,” said NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye in his opening address.
At NUS Engineering Dean Professor Aaron Thean’s session titled “Leadership in Asia’s Next Normal”, he shared that the age of accelerated technological convergence is driving transformation forward.
“We need to make sure that our pre-employment training for graduates is relevant to the job market. There must also be continuing education to adapt and refine the training, in order to support their careers,” said Prof Thean, who was joined by NUS Engineering alumnus and CEO of the Sustainable Living Lab, Mr Veerappan Swaminathan.
“There may be multiple possible scenarios in the future, but a winning strategy is to develop an approach that can survive multiple possible scenarios,” said Mr Swaminathan. He shared that his consultancy could maintain its performance during the pandemic because it diversified into different areas that were complementary.
Prof Thean and Mr Swaminathan enjoying candid banter as they discussed the topic of navigating the future.
During the “Presidents’ Roundtable”, Prof Tan affirmed some of the top priorities for NUS during the pandemic, which includes ensuring the community’s safety through vigilant measures; and supporting the graduating cohort through the NUS Resilience and Growth Initiative that provides employment through placements, apprenticeships and direct hiring.
Prof Tan noted that being prepared for a post-COVID world has required major transformations to the University’s learning models. In particular, lifelong learning is becoming the modus operandi. “Students and alumni will need to constantly upskill and reskill, to remain relevant,” he said.