SINGAPORE – The decision to announce the merger of Yale-NUS College (YNC) and the University Scholars Programme (USP) as early as possible was discussed and jointly determined by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Yale University, Education Minister Chan Chun Sing told Parliament on Monday (Sept 13).
As to why current students and staff were not consulted, he said: “NUS did not do so because the decision involved discussions between the senior leadership of two universities, and with their respective boards, on sensitive issues of strategy and finances.”
Elaborating on the timing of the announcement, Mr Chan said NUS had initiated discussions with Yale in early July, and Yale acknowledged NUS’ vision to bring together both YNC and USP into a new college that would not bear Yale’s name.
The YNC leadership was informed in the same month.
The NUS board of trustees endorsed the decision early last month and the YNC governing board endorsed the transition plans late in the same month.
The announcement was planned for last month after the Yale-NUS governing board “considered and endorsed” the transition approach, he added.
Mr Chan explained that this allowed faculty and staff the maximum time to work through the details of the transition.
“While the partnership would only end in 2025, both parties felt that the responsible thing to do was to announce it early rather than hold back,” he said.
“It would have been bad faith to delay the announcement and continue to admit students who would not be able to complete their education in YNC, or to continue to hire faculty, beyond this juncture.”
The minister was responding to questions from MPs on the merger, which was announced on Aug 27. The move has sparked criticism from students and parents including over its timing, around two weeks after the academic year began.
In his reply, Mr Chan reassured students, parents and alumni that the stature of the YNC degree would not be affected even after the partnership ends in 2025.
“Beyond 2025, NUS will continue to provide supporting documentation to explain the context of YNC and what a YNC degree conveys, and provide letters of recommendation or referees, if alumni need them,” Mr Chan said, citing that both universities are globally renowned and well-recognised by employers.
Mr Chan added that he had spoken with student leaders from YNC and USP last week.
He said: “I listened to their hopes and concerns and encouraged them to work together on the journey ahead. I have every confidence that we will take forward together the legacy, spirit, and communities of YNC and USP.”