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On 21 February, CDTL organised a seminar entitled “NUS Strategic Plans: Where are we and where do we go from here?” led by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Chong Chi Tat. Associate Professor Tong Chee Kiong, dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, and Professor Andrew Nee, dean of the Faculty of Engineering, served as discussants. In this first issue of CDTLBrief, we are pleased to bring you the following summary of the seminar presentations and discussion.
April 1998, Vol. 1 No. 1 Print Ready ArticlePrint-Ready
Session 2
A/P Tong Chee Kiong
Dean, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences

Teaching. The push towards a broad-based education is central to the development of the university as well as the faculty. We are moving towards training students for jobs and areas of work that haven’t been invented yet. To succeed, we have to provide a broad education and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences is fully committed to this. Our faculty has one of the largest number of cross-faculty modules. We offer about 180 cross-faculty modules to other departments in the university and about 700 students from other faculties come to our faculty to study.

Similarly, we are very committed to developing the core curriculum. Of the eight areas suggested for teaching in the core curriculum, five of them fall squarely into our faculty. We believe in the importance of teaching process skills rather than content-based learning only, and the faculty is working towards more project work and open book examinations.

The development of postgraduate teaching is particularly important. The intellectual tenor of a faculty rests to a large extent on the quality of the graduate students it is able to attract. The faculty hopes to expand its graduate training from about 600 students currently to over 1,000 students by the year 2002.

We also want to develop the internationalisation of our undergraduate and graduate population. We need to send out a lot more of our students under the student exchange programme because students who go abroad come back qualitatively different from those who don’t. They are more independent, more confident in their work and participate more in class. Similarly, we feel that it is important to attract more foreign students to the faculty.

Excellence in teaching is important and we must have a proper reward system within the university and the faculty that inspires quality teaching. And there must be an integral relationship between good teaching and good research. I think good teaching follows good research, good research follows good teaching and, as a faculty, we are looking into that.

Research. As we head towards world-class status, it is important to identify key areas or niches of academic excellence. Hiring should take into account teaching as well as research so we can create a critical mass of researchers working together. We can build up graduate students around that group and bring in topnotch visiting professors as well.

We have recently formed an international advisory panel of three renowned scholars from Australia and the US. International benchmarking is important but it is also important to take into consideration disciplinary differences. Different faculties and departments have different benchmarks. For example, in Arts and Social Sciences, we should not simply be interested in IR journals only. Authored books by reputable publishers have the same degree of peer review and refereeing as a top international journal. So the key is quality through peer review. And it is very important for heads and deans to pay attention to each individual’s career development.

Administration. We see this new decentralisation and devolvement to the faculties as a very promising development. It allows a faculty to channel its resources into the key research and teaching areas as needed. I share the view that academic staff should do academic work. We need to create more time for research and I think we can use the modular system in a flexible manner to allow staff to have more time for research.

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Session 1
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