Thursday, May 24, 2007

UNSW exits before it enters: Shocking!

Hi Friends,

Shocking news!

UNSW is withdrawing from Singapore- even before it had actually started its campus!

It is not surprising to me.

1.The idea of an education in an overseas instutition must surely be the experience of tasting life overseas! Ask yourself, who would pay the same amount as another undergrad in Sydney, yet study in Singapore?


i. Singapore Kids still tied to mama’s apron string.

ii Those parents who think that Sydney is so dangerous that only safe sterile Singapore is good enough for their kids

iii Foreigners who fall for the spin about Singapore being the gateway to China.

If one wants a Australian degree in Singapore, there are already so many options now. Many Australian programs are already co-hosted by Singaporean partners eg APMI Kaplan for University of South Australia, and they cost a fraction of UNSW’s deal and their programs are quite well run . I know because I am doing the MBA by U of South Australia at APMI. ( I am assuming their undergrad program is as good as their post-grad one)

Anyway, options for tertiary education are so varied now!

1.Local universities : National University of Singapore; Nanyang Technological University; Singapore Management University. Although I was from NUS, I am really excited about what’s happening at SMU!

2.Singaporean polytechnics followed by local U’s or better still- overseas universities

3.Overseas U’s – either straight after O levels or A levels and for Singapore boys, after National Service.

Anyway, I am a freak for life-long education, so my eyes light up whenever I read anything related to education. Any other such freaks out there?

Regarding the UNSW retreat, University of Warwick must be feeling smug now and saying " I told you so!"


Dr.Huang Shoou Chyuan

University of New South Wales Singapore campus to shut in June
By Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia Posted: 23 May 2007 1715 hrs

SINGAPORE: The University of New South Wales (UNSW) will close its campus in Singapore next month.

The announcement came less than two months after its grand opening.

The school said it was facing a financial shortfall of $15 million a year due to lower-than-anticipated student enrolment numbers. Its target was 300 students in its first semester.

But it only got 148 students, 100 of whom are Singaporeans.

If it were to continue building its campus in Changi, it would have to borrow $140 million.

The school said both factors led to an unsustainable financial burden and it decided to call it quits in Singapore.

Students have already paid their fees, which range between S$26,000 and S$29,000 a year.

UNSW says these students will be offered a place at its home campus in Sydney.

There will also be scholarships to help with the cost of travel and accommodation.

UNSW has already invested over S$22 million (A$17.5 million) in its Singapore campus.

It was invited by Singapore's Economic Development Board in 2004 to establish what would have been the first private comprehensive university in Singapore.

The EDB had said the school was expected to contribute at least $500 million a year to the economy in direct spending. The EDB refuses to reveal how much it invested in the school.

The episode is clearly damaging to Singapore's aim to be a global schoolhouse.

But the EDB, which drives the global schoolhouse initiatives, believes it will still reach its target of attracting 150,000 international students by 2015.

There are currently 80,000 foreign students in Singapore.

Aw Kah Peng, EDB's Assistant Managing Director, said: "The learning point is that we have to continue working very hard. Truly, with every institution, it will be different. With each one, we have to put everything we can to think about all these issues of whether we can make it work, how long it will take for us to make it work, what will it take for us to make it work. We will then have to step forward on that basis."

UNSW says it would have stayed on in Singapore if it has been allowed to scale down its student enrolment numbers to 2,000 students by 2012.

But this would be quite far from the original bargain with the EDB which had set a target of 15,000 UNSW students by 2020.

The UNSW closure does not mean that the EDB will no longer work with the school.

The EDB says there are many areas of cooperation between UNSW and Singapore which are mutually beneficial.

These include foundation schooling for university entry, research collaborations, University of New South Wales school competitions and joint programmes with Singapore institutions.

EDB says it will continue to pursue these areas and strengthen its relationship with UNSW. - CNA/ir


InSpir3d said...

Dr Huang, the Singaporean cost of living is much lower than Sydney, and can shave 1/3 of the cost off the total expense

Pandemonium said...

I agree with inspir3d. When factoring in the cost of an education, it is not just the school fees that one should consider. There's also the cost of living.

I will be going on an exchange at ANU soon. The estimated cost of living there in Canberra is far higher than in Singapore (though for school fees I just need to pay NUS). And the idea that one can pay just a little more (i.e. the higher school fees) for an overseas education must be pretty appealing to a handful number of people.

nofearSingapore said...

Hi inspir4d/Pande:
Besides the factor of cost ( which is admittedly a big factor), it is a misnomer for a Singaporean to say that he/she is having an "overseas" education when the campus is actually in Queenstown or Changi.
It is quite a different and ( I say) a worthwhile experience to live and fend for oneself overseas than to still be figuratively tied to your mum's apron spring even if the interior of the campus ( including the lecturers) look like they are from Sydney.
I hope you don't misunderstand me that I say that everything foreign is good and local bad, but as a young person, "seeing the world" is very eye opening.

The next best thing would be an exchange program ( like pande's).

Best wishes to those UNSW Asia's students who are stranded. Hope they have the resources to take the scholarship and make this a blessing in disguise.

Pande- enjoy your exchange program.


Anonymous said...

Warwick's refusal to come to Singapore had something to do with discrimination against gays and lesbians. I wonder if that played a role in UNSW's decision too. Regardless, Singapore's reputation for intolerance abroad will hurt it in attracting foreign universities.

Anonymous said...

EDB kinda screwed up again..I wonder how much did they put in the "joint-venutre" and by refusing to reveal the tax-payer's amount they had invested...and able to get away with..what can i say..

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon 11.15am
You this is a screw-up, I fear the F1 would be the big one!
What the %%#$ is happening?
Who is taking whom for a ride?

nofearSingapore said...

Hi anon
Typo: I meant that this looks obviously like a screw-up ( or at least one side is being rushed to make decisions without proper due diligence.)

Anonymous said...

Well I for one question the intelligence of UNSW as an academic institution. It is supposedly the best Uni in Down under and I have to say, this recent business/executive decision to setup, then shut down a sub-uni branch here in Singapore is pathetic... I for one do not to recommend anyone sending their kids to an Aussie university...the calibre is just not quite there. Of so many screwed up projects here with EDB, I have to say this one takes the cake. John Hopkins at least took a while before checking out.
EDB really needs to account to the people how they spend our money!!!! And Govt wants top salary means higher accountability and faster route to getting sacked for bad decisions... Alot of people need to get sacked from EDB...Especally the highly paid ones there!!!!

Dr Oz bloke said...

"Were high fees a factor for UNSW Asia not meeting its enrolment numbers?
SINGAPORE: The University of New South Wales Asia opened to much fanfare this March, touted as Singapore's first comprehensive private university.

The Economic Development Board, which persuaded the UNSW to come here, said the school is expected to contribute at least $500 million a year to the economy in direct spending.

300 students were supposed to have enrolled in its first intake, but instead only 148 did so, some 100 of them being Singaporeans.

The EDB's aim was for the school to eventually enrol 70 percent foreign students and 30 percent local students.

But in the first intake, it was exactly the reverse."


Hi Dr H! How are you? Finished the exams?

Regarding your comment about "who would pay the same amount as another undergrad in Sydney, yet study in Singapore?"

If you look at the plan from EDB this makes it even more appalling of how little background market research they did.

They were aiming for 70% foreign students and 30% locals.

In other words, UNSW was never meant for the

"i. Singapore Kids still tied to mama’s apron string.


ii Those parents who think that Sydney is so dangerous that only safe sterile Singapore is good enough for their kids"

but rather perhaps

"iii Foreigners who fall for the spin about Singapore being the gateway to China."

So it goes to show foreigners aren't as dumb as EDB thought they were.

Poor poor groundwork and market research from EDB and UNSW.

Just another question I have to ask.

Am I the only one, or does anyone else feel that the reason why we have so many foreigners from all over the world taking up all those double degree programs in our local universities is because....*drum roll*......MOST OF THEM ARE GIVEN SCHOLARSHIPS TO COME HERE!!!

I would like to see what happens to the enrolment figures when they have to pay on their own.

Check out what Mr Wang says about the "NUS-New York uni law course draws 'rainbow' group
42 students from 23 countries enrolled; programme awards 2 master's degrees"

"The course is taught in Singapore, but the tuition fees are based on NYU rates (that is to say, very expensive). However, to kickstart the programme, the universities are offering a very generous and large number of scholarships (including full scholarships). These scholarships won't be there forever - in fact, they will cease to be offered by 2010/2011."

Anonymous said...

dr oz bloke spot on there. local universities offering generous scholarships to foreign "talented" students ...and are cheaper fees also, if i am a student, i would also opt for local uni than UNSW (s'pore).

also, if i realli wanna an australian uni, i would rather go sydney and study, have a feel of different environment and at e same time gain overseas work experience after graduating and stand a chance earn migration points to obtain a PR in australia in the future

so for those affected students, it better off for them to go australia and enjoy the cool weather there than suffer the warm humid weather in hot crowdy singapore


Desmond Lim said...

guys, also don't forget, the high foreign (20%) enrollment rate in NUS/NTU is also due to the fact, they don't pay the full fees. their fees are also subsidised by our tax dollars. if i'm not wrong (someone who knows please correct me) but foreign students pay $500 more than local students, which is way, way, way below the cost of SGD20,000 a year.

are local students paying SGD4000 a year?

nofearSingapore said...

Anon 2.30:
Yes the lack of market research by UNSW is shocking. They must have been lured by very attractive terms from EDB. I suppose that only when they realized that they had to come out with some serious money did they get cold feet. I know what you mean about Aussie U’s. They are the Lucky Country and really renown for living it up.

DrOz: I am expert in exams now. Still got 6 more modules to do. Starting to enjoy studying for its own sakes!! Want to avoid Alzheimer’s.


The problem in Sg is that everything is micro-managed by the govt. The national imperative is paramount! Education policy is tied up with immigration policy etc. Nothing is spontaneous.

Scholarships are given to snare good genes inhabiting the bodies of young kids of China/India and SE Asia. Once here, they are then given opportunities with our tax-dollars (sometimes to study in very expensive overseas U’s) and then bonded till their late twenties- till it is too late for them to return to their home countries. Hopefully, they get hitched and then exchange their blue ic for red ics ( ie become Singaporeans).

So now, how?

I am sure there are some broken contracts here? Is one party gonna sue the other? Or has there been some secret deal so that “If you tell, I also won’t tell” kind of agreement so that dirty linen is not washed in public and skeletons remain in the cupboards?

Will heads in UNSW and… Sg’s agencies roll? Or will business go on as usual without any change? And govt people continue to collect big fat salaries?


nofearSingapore said...

Should be: " If you don't tell, I also won't tell!" ha ha

Anonymous said...

dr huang
"Hopefully, they get hitched and then exchange their blue ic for red ics ( ie become Singaporeans)."

the smart ones won't get themselves bonded to this island, i just met one china ntu graduate a few weeks ago, she got a 1st class honors and is heading to a PhD in USA, forgoing the local bond

Anonymous said...

Yup totally agree, Singapore is just a springboard to US! in fact,I also think that most students who chose UNSW Asia are mostly rejected by local U! "A" student wouldn't join them...Anyways I think it doesn't make any dollar sense to enrol in UNSW asia,paying this amount i would go to Sydney, complete my study there and get the Aussie PR..
To be realistic, Singapore is just a tiny island althought it has a world class infrastructure but the rules and much freedom.. like a bird in a cage!

Anonymous said...

Good luck to UNSW Asia students and hope our local U wuld able to take them in! Aust deg are no better than a deg from NUS/NTU especially when u are hunting for a job in Singapore

Anonymous said...

seems to me that everyone is a degree graduate these days

what happens to professions like chefs, plumbers...are they in sunset mode

YaleLSE said...

The idea of getting a foreign education is to experience what it is like to live and study in a foreign country. If the tuition cost of attending UNSWA is similar to UNSW, I would study in Australia. It is a no brainer! There is much more to foreign education than just getting a college degree. What so great about studying in singaoore. The weather is hot, humid, sticky, bad air quality, human and traffic congestion, dictatorial regime, lack of academic and personal freedom, uncultured and unrefined locals and it is not easy to get used to drinking recycled water (ie) NewWater! YUK!

Anonymous said...

Haha a great thing about study in Singapore is..u will be able to speak a good singlish after graduate! human congested? not yet....let's wait till they get up to 6.5million (4milion at the moment)freedom has never been an issue for singaporean..they don't need freedom..they prefer to be strictly controlled..goodbye unsw and hope smart EDB people could persuade Harvard and Cambridge to set up their campus in Singapore