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WP MPs to file parliamentary questions on Yale-NUS, USP merger for possible debate at Sept 13 sitting

SINGAPORE — Some Workers’ Party (WP) Members of Parliament (MP) intend to file questions on the merger between Yale-NUS College and the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) University Scholars Programme (USP), which could be debated in Parliament at its next sitting on Sept 13.

The Workers' Party is hoping to debate in Parliament the decision to merge Yale-NUS College with the University Scholars Programme in the National University of Singapore.

The Workers' Party is hoping to debate in Parliament the decision to merge Yale-NUS College with the University Scholars Programme in the National University of Singapore.

  • Sengkang GRC MP Jamus Lim said he and fellow WP MPs would be filing questions on a merger involving Yale-NUS College 
  • This is to gain insight into the decision-making process
  • Among other things, he asked the Government to shed light on the main motivations behind the move
  • Weighing in on the news, he said the closure of Yale-NUS was “regrettable”

 

SINGAPORE — Some Workers’ Party (WP) Members of Parliament (MP) intend to file questions on the merger between Yale-NUS College and the National University of Singapore’s (NUS) University Scholars Programme (USP), which could be debated in Parliament at its next sitting on Sept 13.

NUS had announced last week that this year’s batch of students to enrol in the varsity will be its last, and the merger will form a new entity.

Students now enrolled in the USP will transit into the new college from academic year 2022/23, when it will welcome its first intake of up to 500 students.

Dr Jamus Lim, the WP MP for Sengkang Group Representation Constituency, said in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Sept 1) that he and some WP colleagues will file several questions on the matter in order to gain more insight into the decision-making process behind the move.

He did not specify which of his other colleagues will also be filing questions on the matter.

The parliamentary order paper for the upcoming sitting has not been released yet.

Among other things, Dr Lim said he will be asking Education Minister Chan Chun Sing to shed light on the main motivations behind the decision to terminate both programmes, as well as if there were financial motivations for doing so.

He is also asking if faculty members and students from Yale-NUS were consulted in the decision-making process and, if not, whether the Government can explain why not.

TODAY previously reported that some student leaders at the college were upset at what they saw as a “top-down” decision made by NUS to end the partnership with Yale University.

In his post, Dr Lim weighed in on the closure, saying that he found the move to be “regrettable” as the college “represented a tiny beacon of diversity in local education”.

Its demise would also mean “one less avenue for informed debate”, he added.

He also questioned whether there will be overlap between the new college and the new College of Humanities and Sciences, which NUS had said was formed as a push for interdisciplinary learning. It admitted its first batch of students in August.

NUS said in its recent announcement of the merger that the new college will continue offering a liberal arts education, but with broader and more specialised offerings through a deeper integration with the university.

To this, Dr Lim questioned whether it is possible to “successfully engineer genuine interdisciplinarity”, adding that “the liberal arts did not emerge from forced design”.

“Small liberal arts colleges can be amazing crucibles for fostering a love for learning. The flat structure and small interactive classes… are not easily replicable.” 

Dr Lim added that as an educator and a Singaporean, he would want to see the new college succeed.

“But if I had my druthers, I would have rather seen the two institutions side-by-side. That’s how competition in ideas gets refined and enriched.”

Addressing the view by some that the varsity is a “hotbed for dissident, far-left thinking”, Dr Lim said these views are misplaced as a liberal arts education is “as much an approach to scholarly enquiry — premised on a multidisciplinary framework and critical thinking — as it is a curriculum”.

He pointed out that a liberal arts curriculum can also be found in conservative-leaning tertiary institutions, citing the University of Chicago in the United States as an example.

“Most liberal arts colleges do not exclusively teach modernist leftist ideas,” he added.

Related topics

Yale-NUS University Scholars Programme NUS merger Workers' Party Jamus Lim

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