SINGAPORE (Reuters) - One of Britain's top 10 universities has scrapped plans to set up a campus in Singapore because of concerns about academic freedom, dealing a blow to the city-state's ambitions to attract more foreign students.
The University of Warwick's university council decided to abandon plans for a Singapore branch campus a week after its senate -- consisting of academic staff and a few students -- voted against the expansion plans.
"In the absence of a positive commitment from the academic community, (the council) resolves not to proceed with the plan for a second comprehensive campus of the University of Warwick in Singapore," the university said in a statement.
The city-state is already home to overseas campuses for French graduate business school INSEAD, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It aims to double the number of international students to 150,000 by 2015 as part of a strategy to reduce its reliance on manufacturing.
Warwick and Australia's University of New South Wales were the only two foreign universities selected by Singapore's Economic Development Board to set up a full-scale campus which can award undergraduate degrees.
"When other universities come to Singapore under the same terms, questions will have to be asked on whether they prize academic freedom and independence as highly as Warwick," said Garry Rodan, Director of the Asia Research Centre at Australia's Murdoch University.
Thio Li-ann, a Singapore law professor who drew up an advisory report for Warwick University, warned that "the government will intervene if academic reports cast a negative light on their policies".
The decision by Warwick, which was most recently ranked eighth among British universities in The Times Good University Guide, marks the first time that a foreign university has refused to meet government conditions.
Singapore requires foreign educational institutions to abstain from interfering in its domestic affairs.
Local universities are also under scrutiny.
In 2003, two economists from the Nanyang Technological University of Singapore publicly apologised after the government rebutted their research, which showed that the majority of new jobs created in Singapore went to foreigners.
Last week, outgoing U.S. envoy Franklin L. Lavin slammed the city-state's curbs on freedom of speech.
Run by the People's Action Party for 40 years, Singapore often gets top marks for its sound economic policies but lags other Asian countries when it comes to freedom of expression.
Reporters Without Borders ranked Singapore 147th out of 167 countries in its index of press freedom last year, behind Hong Kong, Thailand, and India, but ahead of Cuba and North Korea.
Warwick Lecturers Vote 'No'.