Building Excellence in Higher Education : Singapore’s Experience book cover
1st Edition

Building Excellence in Higher Education
Singapore’s Experience

ISBN 9780367539160
Published August 26, 2021 by Routledge
208 Pages 8 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Over the last 30 years, Singapore has developed a system of higher education that is the envy of many other countries and regions. How has Singapore developed such a highly performing education system? Was it planned? Was it mere luck?

Written by Arnoud De Meyer, who is widely regarded as one of the pre-eminent management educators and leaders in higher education, the book focuses on Singapore as an in-depth case study of how to build a system of higher education, and specifically a portfolio of highly differentiated and diversified universities. He worked closely together with Jovina Ang during the preparation of the manuscript. This book is unique because it showcases several case studies of the emerging system of higher education, and it was written based on insights drawn from interviews with the key decision-makers and actors in the system from the past 20 years, including ministers and permanent secretaries of the Ministry of Education, and presidents and chairmen of the six universities. The success of this system can be attributed to several factors: the clarity of purpose of the decision-makers, with clear targets in cohort participation rate, commitment to significant funding for education and research, discipline of an intelligent and well-implemented governance system, flexibility in adjusting plans, and rapid and adaptive learning from overseas partners. In the last few chapters, the authors look at the future of the system and postulate how it should be adjusted to the changes in Singapore and the world.

This unique book on educational strategy would be of particular interest to educational specialists and policy-makers in emerging countries who want to build a system of higher education, policy-makers in mature industrialised countries who are faced with the challenge of revamping their system of higher education, strategists who are interested in dynamic capability building and philanthropists who want to use education as an equaliser of social status.

Table of Contents


Part I: The Evolution of the Universities in Singapore

1. The Development of Singapore’s Universities until 1991

2. Building Universities for a Knowledge Economy

Part II: The Main Drivers of Success

3. Fit for Purpose

4. Ample Research Funding for the Universities

5. Governance: The Autonomous University and its Impact on Diversity

6. Active and Adaptive Learning from Partners

7. Flexibility and Quality in Implementation

Part III: The Future

8. The Changing Context and how Universities Can Respond

9. The Challenge of Continuing Education

10. From R&D to Innovation


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Arnoud De Meyer is a global academic leader who has held the top jobs at institutions including Singapore Management University (SMU), Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge (UK) and INSEAD. His notable appointments include President of SMU, Deputy Dean of INSEAD worldwide and the founding Dean of INSEAD in Asia (Singapore). He has authored over ten books.

Jovina Ang is Managing Director of Communicatio and formerly an award-winning corporate executive of multiple Fortune 500 companies including Microsoft, Dell and Cisco Systems. She launched Singapore’s first inter-company mentoring programme for emerging female leaders in the IT industry. She is the author of Leadership Communication: Connect. Engage. Inspire. and The Game Plan of Successful Career Sponsorship.