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Dr Lee Kwok Cheong calls for success to be redefined

06 Feb 2018

SIM Holdings CEO Lee Kwok Cheong recently sat down with The Straits Times for a frank discussion about the future for private education institutes (PEIs) and the students they serve. 

In response to questions about how students from PEIs start from a slower career track vis-à-vis Autonomous Universities (AUs) graduates, Dr Lee has this to say:

“Recently, the Government's line of argument may give the impression that students and parents who come to SIM are stupid. Perhaps we should take a step back and accept that people have choices… Some of our students come to us despite being able to get into the local universities, because they prefer a particular course or one of our overseas university partners. (That said) we also accept that there’s a certain amount of market discrimination against our students.  Our graduates may start at a lower pay but those who do well will catch up and some will do better than public university graduates.”

On the need to focus on broader parameters of well-being and fulfilment: 

“Young people have different ideas about what they want to do in life. Quite a few don’t even have a permanent job but they don’t feel shortchanged. Besides, degrees, money and high positions don’t necessarily equate to happiness.”

On how SIM attempts to improve job prospects for its students: 

“We reach out to (prospective employers) and tell them how we are preparing them to be job-ready… We ask them to hire one or two, taste the apple first, and then if they like it, they will hopefully come back to buy a box.

And as to whether SIM is a second-chance university, Dr Lee drew on his own experience: 

“People should always have second, third chances in education. (It) is all about discovering yourself, how you learn best and where your talent and interests lie, and that takes time.

I myself was a late bloomer. I repeated my P6 and that was where I started doing well, (so much so) that I was able to transfer to one of the top secondary schools in Hong Kong. After that, I was curious about the world and took the SAT and I got into MIT (in the US).” 

On SIM’s response to the disruptions facing the industry, Dr Lee pointed to SIM’s visionary step, 30 years ago, of introducing foreign degree pathways to local students and added: 

“We will continue to expand and extend our degree programmes in partnerships with overseas university partners… We are looking into setting up a platform – a sort of a marketplace – (to) bring together education and training providers and learners. SIM will curate the offerings… to ensure quality and that they are aligned with the needs of learners.”

Read the full interview 

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