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Merger of Yale-NUS, USP will mean more affordable, accessible education, says Chan Chun Sing

SINGAPORE — The new college that will be formed by merging Yale-NUS College and the University Scholars Programme (USP) will be more affordable and accessible to students at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said.

Future students at a new college that result from merging Yale-NUS College with the University Scholars Programme will be able to access 50 majors across the National University of Singapore.

Future students at a new college that result from merging Yale-NUS College with the University Scholars Programme will be able to access 50 majors across the National University of Singapore.

  • Education Minister Chan Chun Sing addressed questions on Yale-NUS College in Parliament
  • The new college from merging Yale-NUS College and a scholars programme would offer lower school fees and its facilities would be open to all NUS students
  • He added that the enrolment, though only about 500 students, will see elements of the college "percolate to the rest of the NUS ecosystem"
  • The end of the tie-up between Yale and NUS will not have any implications for other tie-ups with foreign institutions, he said

 

SINGAPORE — The new college that will be formed by merging Yale-NUS College and the University Scholars Programme (USP) will be more affordable and accessible to students at the National University of Singapore (NUS), Education Minister Chan Chun Sing said.

Mr Chan said in Parliament on Monday (Sept 13) that NUS and the Ministry of Education (MOE) had also decided among “various options” such as continuing with the current arrangement and developing a “separate model”, but ultimately chose to merge USP and Yale-NUS.

Mr Chan, who was responding to supplementary questions asked by Members of Parliament (MPs), also said that the partnership between Yale University and NUS had come to its “natural checkpoint” and that this will not have “any implications” on potential partnerships with other overseas institutions.

He had responded to eight MPs who had filed questions on the planned merger, which was announced suddenly late last month.

While Yale-NUS college will continue running its academic, co-curricular and research programmes until the end of academic year 2024/2025, this year’s cohort of students will be the last to enrol.

The abrupt announcement sparked an outcry from students and alumni at Yale-NUS College, who urged the NUS administration to provide greater transparency and accountability on the decision to merge the college with USP.

A letter from more than 260 parents of Yale-NUS students was also sent to NUS president Tan Eng Chye last week, calling for a virtual town hall to be arranged to discuss the reasons for the college’s closure.

HOW NEW COLLEGE WILL BE MORE AFFORDABLE, ACCESSIBLE

Responding to a supplementary question by Mr Patrick Tay, MP for West Coast Group Representation Constituency (GRC), on how the integration of Yale-NUS College and NUS will change after the merger, Mr Chan said that he expects the college will be more affordable and accessible to NUS students in four ways.

First, it would have lower fees, though he did not elaborate on this.

Mr Chan said that last year, MOE provided about S$48 million to Yale-NUS College in operating grants to about 1,000 students studying there at the time.

“This was more than double that of a humanities and science student at NUS, on average, reflective of the higher costs in education” Mr Chan said.

He added that MOE had also provided capital funding for infrastructure and matched donations for Yale-NUS College’s endowment funds.

Secondly, Mr Chan said that the new college would be able to attract students from across a wider range of disciplines.

He said that while students at the current Yale-NUS College can choose their major from 14 options, future students at the new college will be able to access 50 majors across NUS.

This will “enable them to interact with a greater diversity of students”, he added.

Thirdly, compared to what USP students experience today, students of the new college will “potentially have a richer residential life component”, Mr Chan said.

And lastly, he said that the facilities and resources at the new college will be accessible to all NUS students.

Right now, some of Yale-NUS College’s facilities, such as the multi-purpose hall, fitness centre, computer laboratories, some study areas and lounges are accessible only to students at the college.

He did not elaborate on whether these facilities will be part of the new college.

Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Nadia Samdin asked how much larger the cohorts will be, given that the intention will be to make liberal arts education more accessible.

She noted that the current projected cohort size of 500 is “not that much bigger” than that of the combined cohorts of Yale-NUS College and USP.

Mr Chan said that the “more interdisciplinary approach to education” will not just be confined to students in the new college.

The population will stand at “500 or more” but there are elements of the college that will “percolate to the rest of the NUS ecosystem”.

The NUS website states that it now has more than 31,000 undergraduate students enrolled in the university.

OTHER OPTIONS CONSIDERED

Responding to a question by Sengkang GRC MP He Ting Ru about whether other options and alternatives to the merger were considered, Mr Chan said that the options considered were: To continue with the current model, develop a separate model or to merge Yale-NUS College and USP.

In making the decision, there were two “guiding considerations”, he said.

“One, to make sure that we develop a generation of students who are much more global in their perspective, much more able to apply an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving.

“Second is to make sure that the whole experience in our universities is much more inclusive, much more affordable, much more accessible to a wider number of students.”

It was based on these considerations that the choice to merge USP and Yale-NUS College was made, as it is “the best way to achieve both objectives”, he added.

FUTURE TIE-UPS WITH FOREIGN INSTITUTIONS

Ms He, who is from the Workers’ Party, asked if the decision to end the tie-up with Yale would have ramifications on future collaborations between Singapore and international institutions.

“Even though we might approach other external parties for similar collaborations in the future, will we then suddenly decide that we've had enough, we've benefited enough, we're going to forge ahead?” 

Mr Chan replied that when Singapore institutions go into partnerships with any foreign universities, they must also “bring value to other people… we cannot just copy on the basis that they are better for us”.

“Even if we try to learn from others, we must be prepared and be confident to chart our own way to have our own unique value propositions, and that is how we will continue to go forward,” he added.

“I don't think this partnership coming to its natural checkpoint will have any implications for any of the other partnerships that we are in, or exploring with others.” 

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Yale-NUS College NUS Parliament Chan Chun Sing education

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