A good university education can be truly transformative

Recently, Singapore Management University’s (SMU) President, Professor Arnoud De Meyer shared with The Straits Times, how universities can maintain their relevance. According to Professor De Meyer, a good university education adds not just knowledge, but also skills – hard skills as well as work and life skills, like flexibility, cultural literacy and the ability to innovate.

In line with this, universities are increasingly stepping up targeted efforts to prepare students for a “portfolio of careers”. This includes giving students the full flexibility to mix and match their courses and co-curricular activities, as well as work and study opportunities both locally and abroad. Students then are allowed to take ownership of their learning. Professor De Meyer shared how this philosophy is echoed in SMU which offers its students diverse opportunities, yet it is up to each student “to seize them [and] also shape those opportunities to what he or she wants to do with them”.

To stay relevant, universities around the world are striving to make education more experiential by “bringing the real world into the classroom”, said Professor De Meyer. With globalisation on the march, international experience is also becoming a critical part of a well-rounded university education.

Professor De Meyer also shared that a university was “envisioned as a community of scholars and students who together discover new ideas and new knowledge and prepare themselves for a career.”. Many universities around the world still hold on to that ideal.  Ultimately, a university education can be truly transformative – helping students to discover themselves, the world, and their place in the world.

In this interview, Professor De Meyer has shared many insights that echo my own beliefs on education and its transformative power. Ultimately it’s not about degree versus skills. Education should be a combination of both degree (acquired knowledge from books) and skills (hard skills and life skills). Only then can a student step out and flourish in the real world.

If you want to find out more about Professor De Meyer’s views on university education and SMU’s efforts, click the following link:



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