Thursday, March 16, 2006

More foreign universities locating in Singapore

Universities from US, France, Japan, Australia set up operations here but none from UK. Why? By Martin Thompson The Independent.Mar 16, 2006

The writing is on the wall for cash-strapped British universities. If the downward trend in applications from high-paying overseas students continues, they will not be able to rely indefinitely on attracting them in sufficient numbers to plug gaps in their stretched coffers.

Intensifying competition from the US, Europe and Australasia, and the rise of local universities in developing countries, are feeding the problem - as is the high cost of living in the UK.
Some British universities have decided that the solution lies in tapping into the vast Asian market for higher education by opening second campuses in Asia, often in partnership with local institutions.

Nowhere is keener to attract a British university than Singapore.

With aspirations to become a leading education centre for the Asia Pacific region, this tiny, well-ordered island state has been wooing leading foreign universities to go beyond the partnership model and to build and manage their own campus.

The aim is to offer the same degrees and teaching quality as students would receive in university's the country of origin.

Spearheading this strategy is the Singapore government's Economic Development Board (EDB), which hopes to increase the numbers of international students in Singapore from the current annual intake of 70,000 to 150,000 by 2015. Their respected domestic universities are almost full, hence the desire to bring in well-known overseas names.

From the 28th floor of Raffles City Tower, EDB's headquarters, there is a panoramic view of the cluster of British-designed buildings making up the impressive new downtown campus of Singapore Management University, one of three public higher-education institutions catering for domestic demand

Singapore, with its population of just over four million, may be keen to borrow from the best of British in many fields, but it has so far failed to persuade one of our universities to replicate itself in the tropics. ...Other major British universities have reportedly been approached by Singapore to set up campuses, but so far none has leapt at the opportunity, despite the fact that several rivals already have an academic presence on the island, from franchise operations and partnerships to fully-fledged independent campuses. These include MIT, Johns Hopkins University and the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business of the US, INSEAD business school of France and Japan's Waseda University.

Why go to the trouble and expense of setting up a campus halfway across the world, especially as, in the case of Singapore, the government will not fund the main building costs (although they will offer start-up assistance)?

Tan says the promise lies in the potential for greater global exposure and access to a vast pool of talented students from India, China and the burgeoning economies of South-east Asia.
He says the upwardly mobile students of the future will seek a more cosmopolitan, more international educational experience, but one close to home.