Last week, administrators at Yale and the National University of Singapore signed an official agreement to create Yale-NUS College, a liberal arts college in Singapore that will be run jointly by the two institutions. Set to open in fall 2013, the college will have 1,000 students once it reaches full enrollment in the 2016-2017 academic year. While some professors have expressed ambivalence about the project, mostly citing concerns about academic freedom, today we asked some students what they think.
“I think it’s really interesting that they’ve been talking about this without talking about what the motivation is. I don’t understand why it has to be an offshoot of the Yale campus. I’m not sure whether Yale would be able to have campuses in Asia that uphold all the values we have here – not just academic freedom but social freedoms. In Singapore there’s a lot less social liberty, and I feel that’s a fundamental thing about studying in the United States. If that’s not there, Yale can put its name on [the college], but it’s not at all the same.”
- Zuzana Culakova ’11
“Actually the plans concern me, on two grounds. One is, Yale needs to ensure that the academic standards are exactly the same as they are here in New Haven, as they do for Yale-in-London and summer programs. I really don’t know how they can achieve that in a country that doesn’t have the academic freedom and even the same human rights [as the United States]. So one concern is the quality of education, and second is the issue of academic freedom…I think when you have an authoritarian regime, you’re opening yourself up to having your curriculum dictated by that regime. And the way in which they treat their own citizens does not reflect the way we’d be treated here. I think it’s important for Yale to be reaching out to other countries, but we have to be more careful about what we’re attaching our name to.”
- Alex Fisher ’14
“I guess I understand the concerns that have been brought up, about freedom of speech and the ramifications of that. I think it’s a legitimate concern, definitely. I don’t know about [Yale’s] motivation directly, but I think reaching out and establishing a global presence is a positive thing. Just knowing some of the history and the issues of freedom of speech in the area gives me pause.
- Alex Read MUS ’11