Several friends have asked for my views about the closure of the Singapore campus of the University of New South Wales.
I wish to address these two questions:
* Was it a good idea to get UNSW to operate in Singapore?
* Should the university have taken a different approach to establish its Singapore campus?
I support the initiatives to get foreign universities to operate in Singapore and make it an educational hub. Many parents from Asian countries prefer to send their children to study in Singapore, rather than western countries The environment and culture in Singapore is more conducive.
Singapore has a niche and a marketing advantage.
In my view, UNSW should have taken a different approach to establish its Singapore campus. They should have taken an "incremental approach".
They should start with some courses in collaboration with local partners and build up the student base, reputation and understanding of the market. They could have made a bigger commitment to Singapore (compared to the other universities now operating on this approach), without having to open a large physical campus at the start.
The Singapore government could have provided financial support for UNSW (in return for their larger commitment) in the form of subsidies for local and foreign students to study for these approved courses in Singapore. This will make it attractive for students to study in Singapore, rather than in Sydney.
I hope that we can learn the lesson from this temporary setback.
1. Encourage foreign universities to make a bigger commitment to Singapore by offering more courses in Singapore and enrol a larger number of students.
2. Offer financial subsidy to local and foreign students to study in Singapore. The level of support will be lower than for study in our local universities.
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