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NUS President speaks on opportunities and challenges facing Asian higher education at First Asian University Presidents Forum

19 November 2010

FIRST ASIAN UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS FORUM: NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan gave a speech on opportunities and challenges facing Asian universities as they aspire to become world-class educational institutions.
NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan was in Guangzhou, China from 12 to 14 November 2010 to attend the First Asian University Presidents Forum. He was among close to 100 Asian university presidents present at the Forum themed "Asian Higher Education and the Region's Economic & Societal Developments".

Delivering a speech at one plenary session, he noted that the success of societies and economies was increasingly dependent on the creation and innovative application of knowledge. He said: "For knowledge-based societies to develop and thrive, the presence of world-class universities is a critical requirement."

He observed that "Asian universities are poised at the most exciting phase of their development, and the future is indeed very bright for Asian universities. Despite very significant challenges, there are also many opportunities for Asian universities to leapfrog ahead to join the distinguished league of the world's leading universities."

His reasons for believing so were firstly, that Asian countries were investing very heavily in higher education; secondly, Asian universities were becoming very research-intensive; and thirdly, Asia was rising rapidly in economic and global importance.

But he recognised that there were challenges to contend with in Asian universities' development into world-class institutions - the universities needed to make a big shift from highly specialised education models to more broad-based ones; to develop strong global education programmes; and to lead in research excellence.

He also elaborated on how Asian universities could seize the opportunities to excel and make significant advances through attracting, nurturing and retaining top talent and establishing strategic partnerships.

NUS' partnerships with the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University, Duke University and likely, Yale University, serve well as examples of such strategic initiatives that could greatly boost the growth of an Asian university.

To read Prof Tan's full speech, please click here.