Thursday, October 20, 2005

Attracting Top Universities to Malaysia (III)

In the earlier 2 posts here and here, on the same topic above, I've discussed Malaysia's intent in establishing itself as a education hub for the region with the objective of not only providing educational opportunities for domestic students, but also to double the foreign student intake to 100,000 by 2010.

What I'll do here in this third part, is to have a look at Singapore's policy in attracting foreign institutions to "set up shop" in Singapore. Note that I've gathered a fair bit of materials, and this post may end up being fairly long but hopefully informative. The data should provide us with a better context for comparisons with our very own policy in Malaysia.

To date, Singapore has managed to attract some of the top schools from the United States and Europe to set up their programmes or campus in Singapore. Some of the premier schools which have set up operations are:
  • INSEAD - Asia Campus

    The INSEAD campus in Singapore provides the full function of services and activities that are offered at its Fontainebleau campus. The programmes include a full MBA, and executive MBA, certificate courses and doctoral programmes.

  • Cornell University - Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management

    The Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management is an alliance between Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU)'s Nanyang Business School (NBS). The mission of the Cornell-Nanyang Institute is three-fold. It aims to, among others develop Asian leaders, managers and entrepreneurs in the hospitality and tourism industry, and to build a world-class institution for the creation, translation and dissemination of knowledge to the hospitality and tourism industry in Asia.

  • Stanford University - Singapore Stanford Partnership in Environmental Engineering & Science

    The Singapore Stanford Partnership (SSP) is a joint effort between Nanyang Technological University's School of Civil & Environmental Engineering and Stanford University's Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering to establish a Singapore-based premier graduate education and research program in Environmental Engineering.

    Graduating students receive NTU’s MS or PhD degree in Environmental Science and Engineering with additional SSP certification jointly awarded by NTU and Stanford University.

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology - Singapore MIT Alliance (SMA)

    SMA was launched in 1998 with the aim of setting a new standard in international collaboration in graduate science and engineering education and research. It involves some 50 professors from MIT and another 50 from both NUS and NTU in the teaching of courses and supervision of research. Graduates of the intensive 13-month programme have taken subjects such as Advanced Materials for Micro and Nano Systems, High Performance Computation for Engineered Systems, Innovation in Manufacturing Systems and Technology, Molecular Engineering of Biological and Chemical Systems; and Computer Science.

    "SMA-2" is a new five-year programme launched in July 2005. It will provide students in Singapore with the opportunity to earn a Masters degree from MIT as well as graduate degrees (Masters or Ph.D.) from NUS and NTU. Graduates now receive a certificate from MIT for their participation in the Singapore-MIT Alliance.

  • John Hopkins University - John Hopkins Singapore

    Johns Hopkins Singapore (JHS) was established by The Johns Hopkins University in 1998 as its base of medical operations in South East Asia. JHS has a tripartite mission of research, education and patient care, integrating basic translational and clinical research components.

    Research and educational activities are carried out by the Division of Biomedical Sciences, Johns Hopkins in Singapore (DJHS), which is an academic division of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. DJHS will initially concentrate on cellular and immuno-therapies with specific interests in stem cell biology, T cell and dendritic cell biology, virology and cancer.

    The Johns Hopkins-NUH International Medical Centre (IMC) is JHS’ clinical arm for patient care and clinical research activities. The IMC (a member of the National Healthcare Group) provides Hopkins-quality oncology services to local and foreign private patients in Singapore.

  • University of Chicago - Graduate School of Business

    Chicago GSB's Asian campus offers a full-time executive GSB programme taught by the same faculty which teaches at the school's Chicago and Barcelona campuses.

    Designed for professionals with 10 or more years of working experience, the programme's convenient modular format allows one to advance his or her career without interrupting it. Students stand to gain a broad knowledge of business fundamentals, as well as sharp analytical and creative problem-solving skills that extend beyond their jobs and the industry they are in.

    A unique feature of the Chicago GSB Executive MBA Asia is the weeklong residential sessions with Executive MBA students in Chicago and Barcelona.

  • University of Pennsylvania - Wharton SMU Research Centre (WSRC)

    The Wharton-SMU Research Center (WSRC) was established in 1999 as a center for research collaboration between SMU and the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Under the Wharton-SMU collaboration scheme, the Wharton professors funded by WSRC are expected to visit SMU during the year (typically, during the summer months in Philadelphia) - for research interaction with their SMU counterparts and presentation of research findings at seminars they would give while visiting SMU.

  • Georgia Institute of Technology - The Logistics Institute of Asia Pacific

    TLIAP is a collaboration between the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) for research and education programs in global logistics. TLI - Asia Pacific is modeled after The Logistics Institute (TLI) at Georgia Tech, which has wide industry recognition as one of the best institutes for education and research in logistics. This collaboration provides logistics expertise which caters to the logistics needs of the industries across the world today focusing on global logistics, information technology, industrial engineering and supply chain management.
Other premier universities which has set up programmes in Singapore include Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Technische Universiteit Eindhoven and Technische Universitat Munchen.

The above are really some of the top names in global education, and Singapore is indeed the envy of many Asia Pacific nations for being able to attract them to offer programmes in the country.

While some may criticise that many of the above, represents just the setting up of certain joint programmes, and not offering "direct" degree programmes or setting up branch campuses, it is far more than any other countries in the region has achieved. In addition, it is understood that many of these institutions would prefer to "get comfortable" with regards to the experiment of setting up offshore programmes, particularly in terms of the quality of output, before proceeding to award their own institutions' degrees. For example, MIT has after five years, "stepped up" their programme to offer Masters degrees, instead of just offering MIT certificates.

What did Singapore do?

What were the reasons behind Singapore's relative success in attracting these top universities and academics? The only answer I could give, is that they had a clear and specific programme in what they wanted to achieve, and they had the right competent people to achieve the targets set. They drew a list of the universities they wanted, and they put up a strategy to attract them.

In 1998, Singapore's Economic Development Board launched the World-Class University programme to attract up to 10 world-class institutions to set up a significant presence in Singapore within ten years. That goal was reached in February 2003 - five years ahead of schedule.

Singapore had a vision of being a world-class education hub, a "Global Schoolhouse," with a "self-sustaining education ecosystem that offers a diverse and distinctive mix of quality education services to the world".

So What's Next?

Clearly achieving the "targets" "five years early" isn't the end of it. Singapore has continued to be extremely aggressive in attracting top-class institutions to set up shop in Singapore, and are no longer content with just "joint research programmes". In a recent move reported by the Asian Wall Street Journal (AWSJ) on July 12th, the government of Singapore made Duke University an offer it couldn't refuse a few years ago:
The city-state would underwrite a new $310 million graduate medical school and hand the entire budget over to Duke. The Singapore school would use Duke's curriculum, and Duke would run the show, from hiring the staff to selecting the students.
Not surprisingly, the university "leapt at the offer". The only caveat was that the degree offered shall not be immediately accepted at the "Duke medical degree", probably until such a time whereby the Duke officials are comfortable with the standards of education in the "new institution" to be equivalent to the standard they offer in North Carolina. The new medical school will be opened in 2008.

The University of New South Wales, one of Australia's top universities (and one this blogger gives more credibility to due to its less "commercial" nature compared to most other Australian universities), agreed last year to build a $245 million campus over 15 years that will offer the university's full range of graduate and undergraduate programs to 15,000 students, beginning in 2007.

The Singapore government has just recently suffered a minor setback when Warwick University rejected an offer to set up a branch campus in the country. Thanks to Jeff Ooi's blog post for the heads up. This rejection was confirmed in a statement made by the university officials, although the statement also says that the university would like to pursue collaboration with Singapore through alternative means. Despite what was reported in the Independent (I found the article highly inaccurate in many of its perceptions of Singapore), I believe that the main reason for the rejection is really due to the reluctance of the academic community to commit to participating in a campus in so far in Southeast Asia. They have earlier voted against the proposal by 27 to 13.

However, I fully exect Singapore to be able to continue to attract the top institutions to set up shop in Singapore. At the end of the day, it is about packaging and being innovative. Singapore has aggressively offered schools preferential real-estate terms, tax-free status and other special deal structures to ensure that it will be successful in roping in the top foreign institutions.

What's in it for Singapore?

We have been talking about attracting these top institutions to Singapore - but what's the reasons for Singapore being so aggressive in its manouvres (such as underwriting US$310 million)?

Besides the obvious of being associated with these universities, there are many other tangible and critical reasons for Singapore's romance with these top schools:
  • It takes a terribly long time to set up and nurture a top quality school (and there's no guarantee that it'll be top quality!). By inviting these world class institutions to set up programmes and campuses in Singapore, their "know-how" and expertise are immediately "transferred" to Singapore. It's like instant noodles :). The more top quality educators Singapore attract, the better exposure Singapore students (and educators) get in becoming better educated.

  • It resolves a major education supply side issue in Singapore. It may take a whole generation of academics turnover before Singapore can obtain the right quantity of educators of the right quality. It's a natural supply side constraint for Singapore due to its size and population. But the supply side constraints will be eased with the influx of foreign academicians, which will bring about hopefully some osmosis in knowledge.

  • Singaporean students will obviously benefit from a greater choice and variety in education. From a nation's macro perspective - Singapore has outlived its usefulness as a manufacturing hub, even in the higher technology sectors. The only way to structurally reengineer the Singapore's economy from being electronics manufacturing dependent to one that is service and "knowledged-based", is to ensure that there is sufficient levels of quality knowledge in its population. It's not coincidental that the bulk of the programmes set up by the foreign institutions in Singapore are heavily service, science and bio-technology based.

  • More importantly, I believe for Singapore, is that by having the top institutions set up shop in Singapore, top students from all over Asia will then set foot in Singapore to pursue their further education. It is clear that Singapore probably do not have sufficient natural population to populate these institutions and campuses. However, it is expected that a substantial bulk of student vacancies are expected to be fulfilled through "foreign students". That way, Singapore is clearly hoping (as per the very successful Asean Scholarship scheme) to "trap" the most talented Asians to be resident in the country, in part to make up for Singapore declining birth rates as well as the oft lamented shortfall in talent. Singapore aims to draw 150,000 foreign students from across Asia within 10 years.

  • Finally, all these institutions are of course expected to contribute economically by making money. And in education, there's still plenty of money to be made in this region. As highlighted in the AWSJ report, the move already has paid off for some of the universities. French business school INSEAD, which opened a stand-alone Singapore campus in 2000, says it took in $18 million in revenue last year and has an enrollment of 300 full-time M.B.A. candidates.
The above long blog post, but still fairly brief in details, provides a background of Singapore's policy in attracting top universities. When juxtaposed against the Malaysian "declared" policy to date (through haphazard media interviews with plenty of spin and a lack in details), it gives an indication of how much more we actually need to do.

My original intent was to create 2 post on this topic, which has now become 3. However, it appears that due to the length of this post, I shall now have to leave the last bit of analysis - "what Malaysia needs to do" - in the 4th and last instalLment (for now) for this topic. Thanks for reading! :)


Eric said...

Hello Tony,
thanks again for all the information. I do however think it is good that the academic freedom issue in Singapore is brought forward by Warwick (since that, together with the financiaL issues, are the real reasons for the no-vote, I think). Warwick is very strong in several social sciences and the fact that Singapore requires international educational institutions to agree not to conduct activities seen as interference in domestic affairs, is in my view an obstacle for good social science research and education.

rakyat said...

Hi Tony,
That's a good write-up. Unfortunately I do not think M'sia would be as successful in attracting the top unis. To maintain quality, the uni's hiring and admission has to be based on merit which is contrary to M'sia government policies.

Anonymous said...

It is sad that Malaysia attracted so called top Uni that constantly lower admission standards..

Take Uni of Nottingham (malaysia Campus). The degree Program at Uni of nottingham Malaysia has just review the admission requirement for it Foundation program. Due to the low passing rate it was adjusted lower!

For the past yrs it was 65% passing for English and other subjects not lower than 60%. Current grades needed is 40% average and no subject less than 30% to be admitted to the degree program.

How will that affect the us malaysian studying in this so called Top Uni from UK?