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ICHEM Seminar - Building Excellence in Higher Education: Singapore’s Experience

Arnoud De Meyer reveals how Singapore built an internationally recognised system of higher education in 30 years.

  • 22 Feb 2022, 12.00pm to 22 Feb 2022, 1.15pm GMT
  • This is an online event.
  • This event is free

Over the last 30 years Singapore has created a system of higher education with six government supported universities that is recognised to be a successful system. While in 1990 there was only one relatively small regional university, Singapore now has two comprehensive research universities, two specialised research universities and two applied universities, which are internationally recognised to be of high standards.

How has Singapore built this successful system of higher education? In this seminar, Professor Arnoud De Meyer sketches the history of the last thirty years before analysing major drivers for success, including the alignment of the higher education system with the needs and preferences of the country and its citizens; significant investment in research; the successful implementation of the concept of autonomous universities as a governance principle which allowed flexibility in implementation; and rapid and adaptive learning from overseas partners. The seminar concludes by looking to the future and suggesting changes which may have relevance beyond Singapore, e.g. the evolution towards technology-based education, the growing role of universities in continuing education and the need to improve the flow of research results into innovative commercial applications.


Arnoud De Meyer is a global academic leader with more than 35 years of experience in international academic institutions in Europe and Asia. Until December 2018, he served as President of Singapore Management University (SMU). Before joining SMU, Arnoud De Meyer was from 2006 until 2010 Director (Dean) of the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge (United Kingdom). From 1983 until 2006, he was a faculty member at INSEAD and assumed between 1990 and 2006 several management positions, among others as founding dean of INSEAD’s Asia campus in Singapore. Arnoud De Meyer served as an independent director of several companies and non-profit organisations in Belgium, France, Singapore and Australia. He currently chairs the Temasek sponsored “Stewardship Asia Centre” (Singapore). He is an internationally recognised researcher in the areas of R&D and Innovation Management, Manufacturing Strategy and International Management. He published more than 100 academic articles and 12 books, most recently “Ecosystem Edge: Sustaining Competitiveness in the Face of Disruption” and “Building Excellence in Higher Education: the Singapore’s Experience”.

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