SMU’s success in rapidly establishing itself as a leading university is known around the world – even 6,000 kilometres away in Kazakhstan. This was the reason why 25 rectors, vice rectors, directors and department heads of various universities from Kazakhstan visited SMU to learn about its experience and to exchange knowledge, as well as to study Singapore’s education system in general.
The workshop was organised by SMU together with the Ministry of Education & Science Kazakhstan and the International Academy of Business. It was held at SMU on 5–7 May and at the City University of Hong Kong on 8–9 May.
The delegation was welcomed to SMU by Professor Tan Chin Tiong, Senior Advisor to the President of SMU, and Head of Delegation Dr Assylbek Kozhakhmetov, President, International Academy of Business, Kazakhstan. Leading frank, constructive and highly interactive discussions during the various workshop sessions were Professor Tan; Professor Philip Zerrillo, Dean of Postgraduate Professional Programmes; Mr Edmund Chin, Vice President, Office of Legal and General Affairs; Professor Steven Miller, Vice Provost (Research) and Dean of the School of Information Systems; and Mr Sriven Naidu, Director of the Office of Strategic Planning and Quality Assurance.
Among the topics discussed were the role and impact of universities in development of the country, economy, society and local community; the best practices in education in Singapore and Hong Kong; the role and functions of the Board of Trustees in strategic planning and governance; the formation and development of endowment funds; international rankings and accreditation as the tool for the enhancement of education quality; and new models of scientific, research and innovative activity of a university. SMU stood as a case study of the development and introduction of an “Entrepreneurial University” model; how to recruit and train world-class faculty members; and internationalisation strategies.
At the end of the three-day visit, the delegates proudly received certificates of attendance from SMU President Professor Arnoud De Meyer, who had also hosted a convivial dinner earlier in the visit. During the final session, Professor Tan Chin Tiong commented that in Singapore Central Asia is considered to be an integral part of the Asia region and he hopes that people in Kazakhstan share that view. He added that SMU is very keen to continue the knowledge exchange established during the workshop and to build on the warm and friendly relations that had been developed.
Dr. Assylbek Kozhakhmetov complimented SMU on organising the visit so well and said the University is model of what Kazakhstan needs. Ms Sembayeva Roza, Head of the Analytical Department of the Ministry of Education and Science of Kazakhstan, agreed and said, “Thank you for this unique opportunity to familiarise ourselves with the educational system in Singapore and SMU, which has been able to break into the ranks of the top universities in the world in such a short space of time.” She said her Ministry and Kazakhstan’s university leaders would use what they had learned to build a system that she hoped might be equally good. She echoed the sentiments of Professor Tan, by saying, “We also hope to continue our close and fruitful co-operation in the future”.