TL;DR The decision to merge YNC and USP to form the “New College” has drawn criticism from both students and parents, as well as speculations about the decision-making process behind it. We’re here to tell you why it makes sense.
We previously wrote on how Yale-NUS was subjected to elitist remarks from the professors of the founding Yale University. Yesterday, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing addressed questions on the Yale-NUS College (YNC) saga in Parliament. Responding to various questions filed by MPs from the People’s Action Party and Workers’ Party – e.g. the reasons for the merger, why weren’t faculty and students consulted on this – were some of the questions that he addressed.
There’s this contributing factor which was the cost.
The Singapore government funded the construction of the college and subsidised the very expensive cost of education at Yale-NUS. And almost half the enrolment in the college are international students with an education financed by Singapore’s taxpayers. That’s a very high proportion of foreign students – and let’s not forget that Yale did not want to contribute funds.
According to Education Minister Chan Chun Sing;
“The cost of education of a YNC student today is more than double of a Humanities or Sciences student in NUS. Likewise, both tuition fees and government funding are more than double. But we accepted this because we saw value in having a liberal arts college in our tertiary system.”
It is important to note that YNC had hoped to raise over $300million to reach an endowment fund size of around $1billion with government matching and investment returns.
This would have reduced the burden on the annual operating income of fees and government subsidies. Despite having done their utmost best in raising funds, through no fault of their own, they have not reached the target.
So…why weren’t the students and faculty consulted?
According to Education Minister Chan Chun Sing, this was because the discussions involved the senior leadership of the two universities and with their respective boards on sensitive issues of strategy and finances. He also delved deeper into the timeline of the entire decision making process;
- Early July 2021 – NUS initiated discussions with Yale, which they acknowledged – the vision to merge YNC into a New College (that would not bear Yale’s name). It is important to note that the YNC leadership was informed in the same month.
- Early August 2021 – The decision was endorsed by the NUS Board of Trustees.
- Late August 2021 – YNC Governing Board endorsed the transition plans.
The timing of the announcement, and who it affects
It is also important to note that the announcement was actually announced wayyyy early, since the partnership would only effectively end in 2025. Imagine the drama it would cause if they decided to delay the announcement, and continue admitting students who would not be able to complete their education in YNC or even continuing to hire faculty. It would have been much worse.
This also gave time to faculty and staff (between now and 2025) to work through the details of the transition; YNC’s 2021 intake would be its final cohort and will have the full four years to complete their undergraduate studies at YNC. They will also continue to have access to the full range of majors and minors currently offered, till 2025.
Faculty and staff also need not be worried about being made redundant as they will remain a part of the NUS family. NUS has committed to honoring all existing employment contracts. The YNC leadership have also been engaging faculty members to hear their concerns and discuss possible options for faculty members, after the merger takes full effect in 2025.
Does the move affect the stature of the degree?
At the end of their education, YNC graduates will obtain a degree awarded by NUS itself, the same degree as their predecessors. NUS and Yale are both globally renowned universities which are well-recognised by employers; To date, more than 600 students have graduated from the college, with a statistic of 6 out of 10 students able to find work within six months of final examinations.
The New College actually promotes more inclusivity and collaboration for students. How?
Education Minister Chan Chun Sing also stated,
“I know that many YNC students are actively involved in student organisations and look forward to a fulfilling campus life during their time at the College.”
What did he mean by this? The establishment of the New College will open possibilities for students of YNC, USP and the New College to interact and participate in active and inclusive student life in the next few years. The MOE actually provided $48 million in operating grants to college. YNC’s facilities such as its multi-purpose hall, study areas, lounges and fitness areas are currently accessible ONLY to Yale-NUS students.
On the contrary, with the New College – this will be accessible to all NUS students.
NUS has continued to evolve and innovate, and will continue to do so to remain relevant to the needs of students and the country.
NUS has charted a bold roadmap of educational innovations since 2018, geared towards delivering a common curriculum with more flexible pathways and more interdisciplinary learning, to develop in students greater intellectual versatility.
The New College is a third important step in this roadmap, and was motivated by NUS’ vision of further developing an immersive living and learning community, where students majoring in over 50 different disciplines can come together to inquire, interact and learn from one another.
The New College will bring together the best educational features of both YNC and USP, and let’s all support this new endeavour. With the New College being more fully integrated with the rest of the university ecosystem, students will definitely reap greater rewards and gain greater exposure to a wider range of disciplines, compared to YNC.