Sharp-eyed forum dudes at Sammyboy's Kopitiam spotted the two versions of a CNA article written on the UNSW pullout (the Australian university that was set up as the crown jewel catch to further Singapore's regional education hub dream, announced to much fanfare, which closed down 3 months after classes started. citing low enrolment).
In the first version of the CNA report, we read "The closure comes despite the fact that an estimated quarter of a billion dollars had been spent on the school's new campus in Changi."
In the second version, this figure is left out and this line added: "The EDB refuses to reveal how much it invested in the school." We also read in the second version that "UNSW has already invested over S$22 million (AUD$17.5 million) in its Singapore campus."
The following was reported in the Sydney Morning Herald back in 2005:
UNSW has already secured a State Government-endorsed bank loan of $113 million for the Singapore campus. But it will also receive about $80 million in capital works funding from the Singapore Government, a figure the university's deputy vice-chancellor (international and development), John Ingleson, has refused to confirm or deny, on the grounds that it is commercial-in-confidence.
Whatever the amount really was, I am sure the taxpayer's money was well spent. Our gahmen doesn't anyhowly spend money one, ok? Look at our returns on Suzhou and Shin Corp! So don't ask so many awkward questions! Trust them with your taxes!
Also interesting was the fact that in 2004, after the UNSW deal was announced, Two Cabinet Ministers and the EDB chief were present in April 2004 when UNSW signed the MOU. In fact, EDB Managing Director Ko Kheng Hwa said, "UNSW will bring us closer to our goal of tripling the number of foreign students studying here to 150,000 within the next 10 to 15 years." (via a Straits Times report)
But in 2007, when it was time to announce the shock pullout of UNSW, it was an Assistant Managing Director of the EDB, Ms Aw Kah Peng who announced the closure with vice-chancellor Fred Hilmer.
Maybe the Managing Director of the EDB was not free.
Some of you may be wondering, how did so many millions from both the university and the Singapore gahmen get spent on such a massive project end up only being yanked three months after opening? Some of you may be thinking, "I know bubble tea shops that lasted longer than three months!"
Well, these university heads and gahmen people had FORESIGHT! After just three months of lower than expected enrolments, they could see that it was not going to make business sense, so they had the COURAGE to shut it down despite the millions already spent! So you cannot compare them to bubble tea shops! In fact, I say give the lot a promotion for calling off a potential business disaster!
Times like this, I am glad I don't live in other countries, where educational institutions don't start one day and close another. No, in Singapore things are done very efficiently type, all the due diligence and risk assessment all done sui sui. And because we are such a clever country, a university pullout like this is just a "setback". A road bump, if you will, on the road to education hub-ness. In other countries, this would have been called a "farce", a "bloody joke", and "an absolute f**k-up of the highest order", and heads would roll. But in Singapore, we do things differently.
In fact, according to Ms Aw, Singapore is "still attracting top schools" and she even suggests "that we do have a good track record".
You hear that, the 148 students of ex-UNSW Asia? Singapore still has a good track record for education, so don't lose heart! Take comfort in that, students!
P.S. In case you're wondering, the title to this post is not I come up one, but a clever one of ten acronyms dreamed up by Benjy (you can read it at blog)
The CNA news reports:
(VERSION 1)- 1ST POSTED
University of New South Wales (Asia) in Singapore shuts down
By Ashraf Safdar, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 23 May 2007 1715 hrs
SINGAPORE: It was supposed to be Singapore's first comprehensive foreign university.
But less than six months since classes started, the University of New South Wales (Asia) in Singapore has decided to shut its doors.
According to preliminary reports, this is because of low student enrolment.
The university had projected to get 800 students by August but it is not clear how many there are to date.
The closure comes despite the fact that an estimated quarter of a billion dollars had been spent on the school's new campus in Changi.
To ease the transition, students who are currently enrolled at UNSW Asia will be offered a place in an equivalent programme at UNSW Sydney. - CNA/ir
(VERSION 2)- LAST POSTED
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 will close its campus in Singapore next month. The announcement came less than two months after its grand opening.
The school says it is running into financial problems because enrolment was lower than expected.
Its target was 300 students in its first semester.
But it only got 148 students, 100 of whom are Singaporeans.
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.
The school adds that it is also in talks with local institutions and other universities in the region to offer these students a place to continue their education.
UNSW has already invested over S$22 million (AUD$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 refuses to reveal how much it invested in the school. - CNA/ir