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NUS president to meet parents of Yale-NUS students in virtual town hall in mid-Sept

SINGAPORE — National University of Singapore (NUS) president Tan Eng Chye has agreed to meet parents of Yale-NUS students in a virtual town hall session next week, following a call by around 260 parents for a meeting to discuss the reasons for the college’s closure. This was confirmed by NUS on Thursday (Sept 9).

NUS president to meet parents of Yale-NUS students in virtual town hall in mid-Sept

National University of Singapore president Tan Eng Chye will meet parents after their repeated calls to address “urgent and pertinent questions” left unanswered about plans for Yale-NUS College.

  • Responding to a letter from more than 260 parents, NUS president Tan Eng Chye has agreed to meet them in a virtual town hall next week
  • The parents had originally scheduled a town hall to meeet in person at 7pm on Sept 10,
  • They rejected an earlier offer from Prof Tan to meet them individually
  • On Aug 27, NUS announced that Yale-NUS College will merge it with the University Scholars Programme of NUS by 2025
  • Parents wanted Prof Tan to address “urgent and pertinent questions” about the decision

 

SINGAPORE — National University of Singapore (NUS) president Tan Eng Chye has agreed to meet parents of Yale-NUS students in a virtual town hall session next week, following a call by around 260 parents for a meeting to discuss the reasons for the college’s closure. This was confirmed by NUS on Thursday (Sept 9).

The exact date of the meeting has not been decided, but it will not happen at 7pm on Friday as originally requested by the parents in a letter.

“The university will be separately organising a virtual town hall for parents next week,” it said in response to TODAY’s queries.

Among other things, TODAY had asked how the decision to merge Yale-NUS College with NUS’ University Scholars Programme into a new college by 2025 came about and why Yale-NUS’ management was not involved initially, as well as plans for the new college to ensure continuity of the Yale-NUS experience for the remaining students and whether school fees will be adjusted.

In its response, NUS repeated several points it made last week, including how the merger decision was a “very considered one taking into account NUS’ broader vision and plans to expand access to a liberal arts education”.

It again added that both the chairman of the NUS board of trustees and the Ministry of Education were briefed on the merger in late June and were supportive of the proposal, and then it also provided a rough timeline of what took place as it did before.

The new college has not been named.

Professor Tan’s decision to meet the parents next week came in response to their repeated calls for a meet-up in order to address “urgent and pertinent questions” left unanswered since the university announced the merger on Aug 27.

EXCHANGES WITH PARENTS

In an email chain with Prof Tan that started on Monday, which was seen by TODAY, parents had declined to attend an earlier town hall that involved the administration of Yale-NUS College without the NUS president.

A letter signed by more than 260 parents on Monday requested his presence, given that the decision to close the college had unilaterally come from NUS.

The college’s Student Government, an elected body of student representatives, had urged the NUS administration on Tuesday to hold transparent dialogues with the college’s staff members and students and with Prof Tan present.

In response, Prof Tan replied on Tuesday that the university was "planning a series of individual, face-to-face meetings for parents of Yale-NUS and University Scholars Programme students from the later part of September to address these concerns and questions".

A second letter was sent by the parents to Prof Tan rejecting his offer and calling for him to meet them in a town hall in person since “previous individual parents’ calls, emails to (Prof Tan’s) office have not been met with any satisfactory reply”.

“We believe that collectively addressing this very important decision of yours through a town hall would be the best avenue for all stakeholders involved going forward,” they said in the second letter on Wednesday.

The parents had also scheduled the town hall to occur on Friday, which they hoped would be organised in a “usual dialogue” format and not through a webinar.

“In turn, we would welcome any queries you may have regarding parents’ concerns and which may have slipped your consideration when you made the decision to close Yale-NUS College,” the parents said in the letter.

Parents mostly wanted to know the reasons for the decision, as well as NUS’ plans to address concerns about student finances and the curriculum for the remaining cohort of Yale-NUS students, based on a separate document seen by TODAY that collated questions from parents.

TODAY had also asked NUS about the apparent discrepancies between its version of the timeline to close the college and an article by United States-based Yale Daily News, which reported that NUS had been pushing for the college merger 18 months ago and began considering a transition 12 months ago.

NUS clarified that the 12 to 18 months’ time frame was in reference to the “thinking process behind the university’s long-term strategy and plans to synergise and expand interdisciplinary learning across NUS”.

“It does not refer to the decision to establish the new college,” it added.

The Workers’ Party had filed parliamentary questions about the loss of Yale-NUS College, and the issue is expected to be debated in the sitting next week.

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NUS Yale-NUS College town hall parents students university

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