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​Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam conferred Honorary Degree at NTU’s convocation ceremony

Published on: 24-Jul-2018

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Former President of Singapore Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam, former Head of Civil Service Mr Peter Ho Hak Ean, and Chairman of Lee Foundation Dr Lee Seng Tee conferred honorary degrees for their contributions to education in Singapore
More than 7 in 10 graduands secured jobs before graduation
Graduands from four inaugural degree programmes, including Medicine and Earth Science

As Singapore’s former Education Minister, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam championed the development of higher education, which included the setting up of Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore).

To recognise his contributions as a visionary architect of Singapore’s education landscape, NTU is conferring on Dr Tan an honorary doctorate degree, the University’s highest honour.

The conferment of the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters takes place today at the first ceremony of NTU Convocation 2018. Presiding at the Convocation ceremony is Her Excellency, President Halimah Yacob, the Chancellor of NTU. Also present is Minister for Education, Mr Ong Ye Kung.

To be held from 24 July to 2 August, 9,755 graduands will receive their scrolls over 20 ceremonies. Of these, 6,314 students will receive Bachelor’s degrees and 3,441 students, higher degrees. 

This is NTU President Professor Subra Suresh’s first Convocation since he took over the helm as the University’s fourth President. He said, “It is my privilege to be here to celebrate the achievements of as many as 9,755 graduands. To our newly minted graduands, the NTU degree you are receiving today signals not only that you are ready to make your mark in your chosen profession, but also that you are committed to upholding the values of the University and contributing to a brighter human future. I eagerly look forward to observing the impact you will have on Singapore and the world, and to the many contributions you will make to society.”
As Education Minister, Dr Tan was also the Minister-in-Charge overseeing the establishment of Nanyang Technological Institute (NTI) which later evolved into NTU.  Later, as Deputy Prime Minister, he again oversaw higher education, including the setup of the nation’s third university, the Singapore Management University. Dr Tan also served as the NTU Chancellor during his term as the President of Singapore from 2011 to 2017. 

As Chairman of the National Research Foundation, Dr Tan laid strong foundations for Singapore’s research ecosystem, which NTU is one of the beneficiaries and key players.

On the conferment of the NTU honorary degree on Dr Tan, Prof Suresh said, “I have had the honour of knowing Dr Tony Tan for more than 20 years, and have had the extraordinary privilege of closely observing, and in some cases participating in, a number of activities that he initiated, which have had a transformative effect on the education, research and innovation ecosystem of Singapore and NTU.”  

Dr Tony Tan appointed as Chairman of RSIS Governing Board

In his Convocation speech, Prof Suresh announced that Dr Tan will be appointed Chairman of the Governing Board at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS) with effect from 1 August 2018. 

Dr Tan had set up RSIS, then called the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS) in 1996 to look at strategic developments and potential flashpoints that could lead to regional instability. 

Over the years, Dr Tan provided strong support to advance the development of IDSS and RSIS. Taking a strong personal interest, he frequently met the RSIS Board to discuss relevant issues and ideas for the School’s research work.

Today, RSIS is an established think tank with its research focused in the areas of security, defence, diplomacy and international affairs.

Former Head of Civil Service and Chairman of Lee Foundation conferred NTU honorary degrees

NTU also conferred on Mr Peter Ho Hak Ean an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science, for his exceptional and outstanding contributions to Singapore’s public service and NTU. 

Formerly the head of Singapore’s Civil Service, Mr Ho had a long and distinguished career in the public service spanning more than 34 years, of which 15 years were spent as a Permanent Secretary in several ministries. 

Now the Senior Advisor of Centre for Strategic Futures, Mr Ho is also the Chairman of the Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering (SCELSE), set up by NTU in partnership with NUS.

In a separate ceremony last week, NTU also conferred upon Dr Lee Seng Tee, Chairman of Lee Foundation, an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters, for his staunch support and philanthropic contributions to education worldwide. 

In particular, Dr Lee is honoured for his instrumental role in the Lee Foundation’s generous $150 million gift to NTU in 2012 for the establishment of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine.

Former NTU President honoured 

Also honoured at the Convocation ceremony today is Professor Bertil Andersson, who was recognised with the prestigious title of President Emeritus for his distinguished leadership and meritorious service as President of NTU from 2011 to 2017, and as NTU’s first provost from 2007 to 2011.

Among Prof Andersson’s achievements is the establishment of the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCMedicine), which was jointly set up in 2010 with Imperial College London as part of the efforts to meet Singapore’s growing healthcare needs.

The medical curriculum’s innovative pedagogy integrates the latest learning technologies, and is designed to introduce students early to patient care and communication, and working and learning in teams – skills they would take with them as they progress in their careers as medical doctors in Singapore’s healthcare system.

Inaugural graduates in four new programmes

Today, NTU welcomed its first batch of 52 flag bearers from LKCMedicine who have already started work in Singapore’s public healthcare institutions.  

Dr Aishwarya Narayanan, now a house officer at KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital’s paediatrics department, said, “During my time at medical school, the early exposure to patients helped me discover the personal fulfilment that comes through interacting with and helping those in need.”

Also graduating today are the inaugural batches from the Philosophy and the Environmental Earth Systems Science programmes, and the Master of Arts in Professional Education (Training & Development).

Offered by the Asian School of the Environment, the Environmental Earth Systems Science programme is the only course in Singapore that allows students to learn from the classrooms of nature.

Said Grace Ng, a Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal winner and an engineering geologist at global consultancy firm Mott MacDonald: “This programme allowed me to explore and study the relationship between the physical environment and its interaction with human communities using practical methods – science and math. It makes concepts learnt more meaningful and logical. We built up valuable insights and problem-solving skills for different specialisations in the environmental or sustainability fields, allowing students to take on a variety of career paths upon graduation.”

NTU graduates well sought after by employers

In a preliminary survey of close to 5,000 NTU graduands, more than 7 in 10 have already secured jobs before graduation.

One fifth of those surveyed received job offers from where they previously interned, and more than 12 per cent have been employed by their internship companies.

One of them is communication studies graduate Alicia Lim, who is now working as a territory sales account manager at Amazon Web Services. She was offered the full-time position after completing a six-month internship with the on-demand cloud computing platform, which counts global brands like Expedia and Airbnb as clients.

Alicia represents a new group of graduates who are working in the new digital economy, which is flourishing in tandem with Singapore’s push to become a more digital and connected society.

Prof Suresh said, “NTU has emerged as a global leader in several academic fields that are shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution. These areas include such intellectual disciplines as artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics and block chain. Our programmes continually strive to equip NTU students of all disciplines to thrive in the jobs of tomorrow, to be future- ready, and to become productive citizens.”

NTU Convocation 2018 by numbers:
9,755 graduates in total
6,314 Bachelor’s Degree graduates and 3,441 Higher Degree graduates
52 pioneer graduates from the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery degree programme 
26 pioneer graduates from the Bachelor of Science in Environmental Earth Systems Science programme
38 pioneer graduates from the Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy programme
386 Bachelor’s graduates receiving double degrees
2,741 graduates receiving Master’s degrees
700 graduates receiving Doctorate degrees 


Media contact:

Foo Jie Ying
Senior Assistant Manager, Corporate Communications Office 
Nanyang Technological University

About Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
A research-intensive public university, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has 33,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students in the colleges of Engineering, Business, Science, Humanities, Arts, & Social Sciences, and its Interdisciplinary Graduate School. It also has a medical school, the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, set up jointly with Imperial College London.
NTU is also home to world-class autonomous institutes – the National Institute of Education, S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Earth Observatory of Singapore, and Singapore Centre for Environmental Life Sciences Engineering – and various leading research centres such as the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and Energy Research Institute @ NTU (ERI@N).
Ranked 12th in the world, NTU has been placed the world’s top young university for the past five years. The University’s main campus is frequently listed among the Top 15 most beautiful university campuses in the world and it has 57 Green Mark-certified (equivalent to LEED-certified) building projects comprising more than 230 buildings, of which 95% are certified Green Mark Platinum. Apart from its main campus, NTU also has a campus in Singapore’s healthcare district.
For more information, visit  

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