Prof. Matt Bentley takes over as CEO & Dean of Newcastle University in Singapore

Prior to taking up this role, Matt held the post of Head of Academic Operations in Singapore and since 2016 had worked closely with Ian Postlethwaite on developing and delivering the Singapore strategy. Going back even further, his relationship with Newcastle University started as an undergraduate, being awarded a BSc in Zoology in 1978 and a PhD in Marine Biology in 1984. After spells lecturing both in the UK and France, Matt returned to Newcastle as a lecturer in 1999. He held roles as first Deputy and then Acting Head of School of Marine Science and Technology, before moving to Bournemouth University in 2014 as Deputy Dean for Research in the Faculty of Science & Technology. Here, Matt talks about his new appointment and the future of our Singapore operation…

On taking on the role of CEO and Dean for Singapore:

“The excitement of becoming Dean and CEO in Singapore is palpable. Being a Marine Scientist, working with academics who are all engineers, alongside an outstanding team of professional service staff, is a challenge but gives me the advantage of not being too closely associated with any one of the academic disciplines in Singapore. Skills learned leading research across various departments in my previous Deputy Dean for Research role are invaluable here. My greatest pleasures and achievements, I believe, are yet to come.”

On his vision for Singapore:

“Newcastle University in Singapore is perfectly poised to grow in importance in Singapore and in South East Asia and as a result will enhance the University’s Global reputation in line with the new and recently unveiled vision ‘From Newcastle. For the world’. This will be achieved by working to foster an enduring relationship with our partner institution Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and move with them to the new SIT campus in Punggol in 2022. Our desire is to maintain the relationship as their preferred overseas partner. Newcastle Research and Innovation Institute (NewRIIS) is the other face of Newcastle University in Singapore. It is the base from which we deliver postgraduate education and in research reach out to collaborate with Singapore’s prestigious institutions NUS, NTU and A*STAR. The collaborative links we have built recently should provide opportunities for Newcastle-based academics to bridge across to Singapore and it is my hope that some will come to regard NewRIIS as their second home. The synergies between the needs of Singapore and the UK in addressing the challenges associated with ageing, energy and the digital world should facilitate strong links between the two nations. Our ambition is to reach out in research to a much greater extent across the region, in Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and others. A start will be working closely with NUMed across the Strait in Johor to explore shared postgraduate and research opportunities. Fostering regional connections will provide a springboard for the launch of postgraduate training to overseas students in the not too distant future. Newcastle University in Singapore graduated its 10th cohort of students last October. During the last decade there has been much change and uncertainty but through the dedication of staff we have come through to a much stronger position now. Where we go in the future will still depend on that dedication. We will work hard to move forwards as we grow, embracing Equality and Diversity, and in Singapore we are well-placed to take a lead on that. I believe that in working together with transparency, trust and confidence we can realise our ambitions.”

On the question of ‘why Singapore?’:

“As a city state, Singapore is a young nation that is developing fast. Its ‘Smart Nation’ approach will help it cope with its growing population of 5.7 million on this small, amazing island. Being in Singapore will enable Newcastle University to be part of those developments. Singapore already has some of the world’s top universities in NUS & NTU, and some of the most innovative industries. The next decade will be an exciting time. Working with SIT as Singapore’s University of Applied Learning will produce graduates that have a Newcastle pedigree along with industrial experience to meet Singapore’s needs.”