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Embracing disruptions and modernising higher education institutions

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In continued partnership with the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), the third and fourth runs of the Leadership Development Programme for Higher Education Institutions (LDP-HEIs) ran this year. Held for the first time online, the two sessions spanning 21 April – 7 June and 13 October – 29 November impacted 63 Higher Education Institution (HEI) leaders across 28 universities in the Philippines. Programme Director Dr N Varaprasad, alongside trainers Associate Professor Calvin Chan and Associate Professor Rebekah Lim from the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS), led workshops on how institutions can evolve through the challenges posed by remote working and learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

University participants sharing their re-entry action plans and programme experiences, with Programme Director Dr N Varaprasad, trainer Professor Calvin Chan, and Dr Nova Ramos.

Participants were introduced to institutional resilience and effective leadership styles for disruptive times; preparing future-ready graduates for the changing world of work; using cutting-edge digital tools and pedagogies to effectively engage students; and developing future-ready faculty. Much was gleaned as well from an impressive line-up of keynote speakers who added invaluable insights into tackling the challenges unique to HEIs and institutional transformations needed for the new normal. The speakers notably were Dr J. Prospero E. de Vera III, Chairperson, Commission on Higher Education of The Philippines (CHED); Professor Danilo L. Concepcion, President, University of the Philippines; Professor Lim Cher Ping, Chair Professor of Learning Technologies and Innovation, The Education University of Hong Kong; Professor Hyo-Jeong So, Director of the Center for Innovations in Education, EWHA Women’s University; and Ms Cathlea Barote, Chief People Officer, East-West Seed International Ltd, Thailand.

Each programme culminated in a session where all participants shared re-entry action plans to be implemented in their respective universities, optimising and operationalising the lessons learnt throughout the programme. 

Trainers and alumni engaged in a Q and A session with Dr Prasad and the participants as the session concluded

The second programme closed with a supplementary session on 29 November, organised as a response to participants’ requests for practical tips to implement change. We are grateful to have welcomed back Ms Leng Soknaram, Chief of Planning and International Cooperation, Prek Leap National College of Agriculture, Cambodia, Dr Mary Jocelyn V. Battung, College President, JH Cerilles State College, Mati, San Miguel, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines, and Dr Adeliza A. Dorado, Associate Dean for Instruction, College of Agriculture and Food Science, University of the Philippines Los Baños as alumni speakers. These leaders shared practical tips and long-term considerations for implementing institutional change from their past experiences, as well as the far-reaching impact of the programme even many months on.

Director, Operations of The HEAD Foundation Mr Vignesh Naidu and participants at the programme's final day ceremonial awarding of certificates.

We remain in close contact with all these institutions, and look forward to future renditions of this programme that can positively impact more HEI leaders around Southeast Asia.

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Mr Ho Swee Huat

Mr Ho Swee Huat is the Founder and Managing Director of Abacus Assets Advisors Pte Ltd. Before starting the company, he had an established career in the banking industry, with 20 years of experience in Singapore, Hong Kong and New York.

He was an Independent Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of CapitaCommercial Trust Management LTD from 2004 to 2013.

He is the current Chairman of Autism Association (Singapore) which he co-founded with a group of parents in 1992. He is also Vice-Chairman of Eden School, a special school for children with autism.

Mr Ho holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Liberal Arts degree in Economics from Hamilton College, USA.

He has been a member of the Board of the Foundation since its incorporation.