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Policy and thought leaders share insights at Second China-India-Singapore Dialogue on Higher Education

24 October 2011

(From left) Assoc Prof Ho, Prof Chandra, Prof Zhu and Prof Tan during the Q&A session

(From left) Prof Kong, Prof Han, Dr Agarwal and Mrs Tan

The Second China-India-Singapore Dialogue on Higher Education organised by NUS – the Office of the Vice President (University and Global Relations), East Asian Institute and Institute of South Asian Studies, in collaboration with the Office of the Research Director for Humanities and Social Sciences, Asia Research Institute and International Relations Office – was held on 21 October 2011.

Focused on the topic "Models of Public and Private Higher Education", this year's Dialogue featured six distinguished education leaders from China, India and Singapore. They were Mrs Tan Ching Yee, Permanent Secretary, Singapore Ministry of Education; Prof Tan Chorh Chuan, NUS President; Prof Han Min, Deputy Director-General, National Centre for Education Development Research, China Ministry of Education; Prof Zhu Qingshi, President, South University of Science & Technology of China; Dr Pawan Agarwal, Adviser (Education), Planning Commission, India; and Prof Pankaj Chandra, Director, Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore.

The speakers shared insights on higher education reform, opportunities and challenges as well as governance of public and non-governmental institutions in their respective countries. Prof Tan Chorh Chuan shared on the corporatisation of NUS and its impact and challenges. Commenting on the governance of universities, he identified the central challenge as that of balancing between the need for more autonomy so as to respond appropriately and competitively to changes in the higher education landscape and the importance of strong alignment of the activities of publicly funded organisations to national goals and imperatives.

Besides individual presentations, there were two Q&A sessions featuring speakers from different countries, moderated by Prof Lily Kong, Vice President (University and Global Relations) and Assoc Prof Ho Kong Chong, Vice Dean (Research) at the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences. Among the various questions raised by the audience were problems such as how to promote multidisciplinarity, bring poorly performing institutions up to acceptable standards, find a large number of excellent faculty, compare and benchmark institutions, and gain greater academic autonomy.

On the benefits of the China-India-Singapore Dialogue, Prof Tan said: "It helps us as a small country to understand the much broader shifts and changes in our external environment and how we ourselves have to think about where we move so that we can continue to be relevant and contribute to these major developments."