When NUS Engineering alumna Ms Eng Se-Hsieng, on the advice of her father, decided to take on an overseas programme in 2000 that required her to spend two years in France, she would be one of the first female students in the NUS Grandes Écoles French Double Degree Programme (FDDP).
Fast forward almost 20 years, and the impact of this experience lingers on, both academic and personal, not least in the 20 friends made through FDDP who attended her recent wedding.
“For me academic life was not just about studying, it was also about knowing when to go out to have fun with your peers and through these experiences, build trust and relationships that last through your professional and personal life,” she said. Ms Eng’s sharing was part of the 20th anniversary celebration of the inception of FDDP, which is offered exclusively at NUS and is the longest running academic collaboration between France and Singapore. The event on 11 November brought together academics, industry partners, FDDP alumni and students at a special forum to dialogue and exchange knowledge on the changing higher education landscape, and to share their experiences.
Guest-of-Honour at the event, His Excellency Mr Marc Abensour, Ambassador of France to Singapore said, “The FDDP is an outstanding cooperation between the prestigious NUS and six of France’s top engineering schools, which are elite academic institutions of more than 200 years. It is a great testimony of the long-standing and high level collaboration that France and Singapore enjoys, and contributes to strengthen the relationships in education, science and industry between our two countries.”
NUS President Professor Tan Eng Chye commented, “This event pays tribute to our synergistic partnership with the Grandes Écoles, and celebrates FDDP’s milestones and achievements over the past two decades. It is through such collaborations with our strategic international partners that we are able to offer diverse and enriching education programmes that truly nurture our students as global citizens of the future.”
The Grandes Écoles refers to a group of highly selective and prestigious institutions in France, whose graduates have dominated the private and public sectors of France for years.
Prof Tan also discussed Singapore’s higher education landscape at the event. Given the many disruptors in society today, including the accelerated change facilitated by technology, the evolving nature of work and the uncertain employment future, he spoke on some of the ways that Institutes of Higher Learning must adapt. In particular he highlighted the need for universities to change the method of teaching to begin integrating skills and knowledge, as well as the importance of developing students into lifelong learners, citing NUS’ L3 initiative.
“There are many disruptions that are likely in the space that the university exists, be it in education, in research, and in enterprise. I think universities must be mindful of that and must be prepared and know how to respond. My hope is as I am developing our capabilities for NUS as a whole. NUS, even though we are a big institution with 40,000 students and 12,000 staff, we must still be very nimble. We must be very flexible and adaptable and as an organisation embracing change must be part of our DNA,” said Prof Tan.
The event also featured a speech by Mr Eric Labaye, President of École Polytechnique and President of Institut Polytechnique de Paris, on the changing landscape of France’s higher education, as well as industry partners speaking about industry developments and career opportunities.
The FDDP started in 1999 as a partnership between NUS and École Centrale Paris. Over the years, the collaboration expanded to six Grandes Écoles — École Centrale Paris (now merged with Supélec as CentraleSupélec); École Polytechnique (l’X); École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (Mines ParisTech); Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées (ENSTA Paris); École Nationale Supérieure des Télécommunications (Télécom Paris); and École Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées (École des Ponts ParisTech). Some 370 NUS and French students have graduated from the programme since it started.
This flagship programme is known for its academic rigour and excellence. Each year, four to six of NUS’ best Engineering, Science and computing students may be selected to participate in this programme. Students spend their first two years in NUS, their next two years in one of the partner universities and then return to NUS for their Master’s. At the end of the programme, each of them will be conferred three degrees — an NUS undergraduate honours degree, a diploma from the partner university and a Master’s degree from NUS. French students who come to NUS receive a Master’s degree from the University.
See press release.