ADELAIDE - President Tony Tan Keng Yam was on Tuesday conferred an honorary doctorate by his alma mater, the University of Adelaide.
Speaking during the conferment ceremony, Dr Tan reminisced on his days as a student here in the 60s and highlighted the strong education ties between Singapore and Australia.
Dr Tan completed his doctorate in Applied Mathematics at the university in 1968, spending three years there with his wife Mary.
"My wife and I remember fondly the warmth and generosity of our Australian friends and have been looking forward to returning to this beautiful city," said Dr Tan, who is on a six-day state visit to the country.
Dr Tan was conferred the doctorate for his contribution to Singapore's development into a global hub of scientific research and education and for his "exceptional contribution" to public life, the university said in a statement.
In his speech, President Tan said that education is one of the key pillars of the bilateral relations between Singapore and Australia.
These ties in education were forged from the 60s when Singaporeans headed to Australia to study under the Colombo Plan Scholarship.
The Republic, he added, has been a beneficiary of Australia's "open and generous education policy", with many Singaporean students since going on to become industry leaders, politicians and senior government officials.
There are about 130,000 Singaporeans who are alumni of Australian universities.
Australia's New Colombo Plan, which will see the reverse of the original programme and send Australian students to study and learn from its counterparts in the Asia-Pacific region, will serve as an "excellent platform" to strengthen co-operation between both countries, said Dr Tan.
Beyond this, schools and the education ministries of both countries also have close links to one another and have undertaken various research collaborations and student or staff exchange programmes, said Dr Tan.
He added: "While our countries may not always have the same solutions to the challenges facing our respective education systems, Singapore continues to look to Australia for innovative and best practices."
Earlier in the day, Dr Tan was called on by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Canberra before he flew to Adelaide.
President Tan and Mr Abbott agreed that bilateral relations between Singapore and Australia were "long-standing and excellent", said a statement from the President's Office.
They also agreed that co-operation between the two countries is deep and multi-faceted, spanning diverse areas such as defence, trade and investments, people-to-people exchanges and education link, and that both sides should explore opportunities to bring bilateral relations to an even higher level.