Yale, NUS negotiate financial aid

Concerns over financial aid for international students at the proposed Yale-National University of Singapore liberal arts college have delayed the release of its budget by over a month.

Administrators said in September that the Singaporean government would announce the budget in December 2010 or early 2011, but negotiations between the two parties slowed in December of last year, University President Richard Levin said in January. After administrators learned that international students at the college would be required to work in Singapore after graduation, Yale officials are brokering greater flexibility for international students who will attend Yale-NUS college on financial aid, a professor involved with the project said.

“It’s very important to us that the access to the Yale partnership in Singapore be possible to students from all over the world who have limited means,” University President Richard Levin said in a Monday interview. “Just as access to a Yale education [in New Haven] is accessible to students from all over the world who have limited means.”

Because tuition to public universities in the small Asian country is heavily subsidized by the government, non-Singaporean students who attend college in Singapore are currently required to take jobs there for three years after they graduate, either in the private or public sectors, sociology professor Deborah Davis said. Davis is serving on a committee for the proposed college and traveled to Singapore with other University representatives in the summer of 2009.

“It’s a highly subsidized system and they’re opening it up to the rest of the world,” Davis said. “[The job requirement] is how they want to keep their investment in their city state.”

Davis added that the jobs available in Singapore provide good salaries, and she expects many international students will want to take them.

But for students who want to return to their home countries after graduating from Yale-NUS College, Davis said the University is creating other options, such as scholarships funded by the Singaporean government, or loans to pay the government back.

Levin said Monday that ongoing discussions about the budget only apply to international students attending college in Singapore and not to Singaporean students.

University officials continue to work closely with their counterparts in Singapore, Levin said, adding that he hopes the budget will be finalized by the end of the semester. According to the prospectus about the college that administrators sent to faculty in September, Yale will proceed with its plans in Singapore once a sufficient budget has been agreed upon.

As the University awaits the budget from the Singaporean government, planning continues for the liberal arts college’s curriculum and facilities.

Davis said she saw a model of the campus’s “gorgeous” design two weeks ago. The dormitories are based on the residential colleges in New Haven and include master’s houses, dining halls and other student facilities, she said.

Astronomy professor Charles Bailyn, who will serve as dean of faculty at the proposed college, could not be reached for comment Wednesday. Yale-NUS College is scheduled to open in 2013.

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