Singapore’s First Liberal Arts College to Close in 2025, Students & Faculty Upset By Decision

Singapore’s first liberal arts college, Yale-NUS College will close by 2025, 14 years after its establishment, the institution has announced. This decision has caused outrage among students and faculty.

The announcement came on August 27, during a virtual meeting with the President of the National University of Singapore (NUS), Tan Eng Chye, current President of Yale-NUS College Tan Tai Yong and founding President of Yale-NUS Pericles Lewis, reports.

During the meeting, they said that the final group of students who have just enrolled at Yale-NUS would be the last cohort to get special Yale-NUS degrees in 2025.

“Yale-NUS College will continue through Graduation 2025. The College will not continue after 2025, although some currently matriculated students may graduate after that time. No new students will be admitted to Yale-NUS College after the Academic Year 2021/22,” a post published on Yale-NUS College’s website reads.

NUS also announced its latest initiative to establish two new colleges in a bid to transform the educational experience at the institution. The first college is expected to be established by combining Yale-NUS College and the University Scholars Programme, while the second will be the College of Design and Engineering, by merging the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Design and Environment.

Following the sudden decision, a faculty member said that no one was informed about such move, there were no consultations, and NUS didn’t ask for any ideas on how to continue operating with Yale-NUS college without closing it.

Wee Yang Soh from Singapore, who attended the inaugural class at Yale-NUS in 2013, now a PhD student at the University of Chicago in the United States, wrote on Facebook that he felt betrayed, disappointed, and angry after the decision was made.

“As alumni and part of the first batch of the college, we went through a lot of sacrifices to build up the college from scratch, from its practices, its curriculum, student life, everything was painstakingly built up, and for that all to suddenly be taken away from us just felt like a huge blow,” he told University World News.

Whereas Mitchell Palmer, also a student of Yale-NUS, said what hopes can others have if one of the best universities in Asia did not manage to maintain a real liberal arts college in partnership with a US university with hundreds years of experience in liberal education.

But, whatever happens, this has undeniably been handled terribly by the University. They have let down the students, faculty, and staff who took a risk and in many cases moved thousands of kilometres away from home to support and enjoy the vision of a liberal arts education in Asia,” Palmer wrote in a blog post.

An online petition named “Reverse the Mergers and #NoMoreTopDown” has been issued by students of Yale-NUS and NUS calling the latter to change the decision. More than 13,000 people have already signed the petition.

Singapore’s Yale-NUS College was established in 2011 by Yale University and the National University of Singapore (NUS), becoming the state’s first liberal arts institution. Under the agreement signed in 2011, either partner could end the collaboration in 2025.

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