17 Oct 2005

Warwick lecturers vote against Singapore campus

Guess which University I attended?

Warwick lecturers vote against Singapore campus
By John Burton in Singapore
Published: October 14 2005 11:57 | Last updated: October 14 2005 11:57

Senior lecturers at Warwick University in the UK have voted against setting up a branch campus in Singapore due to worries about limits on academic freedom, dealing a possible setback to the city-state's ambitions to become a regional hub for higher education.

Singapore requires international educational institutions operating in the city-state to agree not to conduct activities seen as interference in domestic affairs.

The lopsided 27-13 “no” vote by Warwick's senate this week is believed to be the first time a foreign university has rejected the conditions set by Singapore. Although the vote is non-binding, it is likely to put pressure on the university council to abandon the Singapore plan when it makes a final decision on October 18.

Warwick and Australia's University of New South Wales are the only two foreign universities selected by Singapore's Economic Development Board to set up a full-scale campus.

The city-state has succeeded in attracting smaller schools operated by several top institutions, including Insead and the University of Chicago Graduate Business School, in an effort to triple the number of university students to 150,000 in the next decade.

The Warwick vote came as the outgoing US ambassador to Singapore warned in a farewell speech that Singapore's limits on expression might cause the government to “pay an increasing price for not allowing full participation of its citizens”.

Faculty and students at Warwick have questioned the costs of the nearly £300m ($525m) project and the university's ability to attract quality students and staff to the Singapore campus. But much of the criticism has focused on limits on academic freedom and civil liberties, including curbs on gay rights and high execution rates for criminals.

Warwick recently sent a letter to EDB asking that its students in Singapore be exempt from strict laws limiting freedom of assembly, speech and the press, and the removal of bans on homosexuality and certain religious practices on campus.

It also sought guarantees that staff and students would not be punished by the Singapore government for making academic-related comments that might be seen “as being outside the boundaries of political debate”. EDB said it would not comment.

The demand that the Singapore campus enjoy the same degree of academic freedom as in the UK came in response to an advisory report[requested a copy but was informed that the commissioned opinion is confidential] by Thio Li-ann, a law professor at the National University of Singapore, which said freedom of “speech is permissible as long as it does not threaten real political change or to alter the status quo”.

She warned that “the government will intervene if academic reports cast a negative light on their policies” but said the presence of Warwick in Singapore could “serve as an impetus for continued liberalisation”.

Does anyone know what the word 'vindication' means?

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clyde said...

Thanks for posting this insightful article. I've been hearing of the negative vote for Warwick to set up in Singapore but didn't know the motives behind it included such sensitive subjects as civil liberties or even the death penalty. I continue to be surprised, if not a little amused, at Singapore's openess of their oppression of speech. Nonetheless, Warwick U seems pretty well informed on these major issues and I applaud them for their stance (and sort of protest in a way) against their anti-liberal policies.

akikonomu said...

soci, is there a hyperlink to Thio Li-Ann's advisory report?

soci said...

I am not sure of it has been made available to the public. I will email Thio Li-ann and ask for a full copy.

pleinelune said...

hopefully this will wake some people up, and make them see what censorship is doing. then again, given the government's attitude, it is likely they'll just say, "rejection? what rejection? we rejected them first!"

soci said...

every rejection is substantial.
one day its a US envoy the next day its a group of UK senior lectures from a uni.

the world is watching!

akikonomu said...

I'm sure you can ask for the report from Warwick as well =D.

Is this political activism typical of of the UK? I recall a similar case where the Association of University Teachers voted overwhelmingly to boycott Haifu and Bar-Ilan universities for being complicit in the Israeli campaign of lebensraum in Palestine...

jOlYnNn said...

great great!! dun ever come here!! wat can we achieve with restrictions on academic freedom...

why think of opening a school with an objective of developing intellectuals when we cun even think freely.. less to say speak freely..

I LOVE WARWICK!!!! *MUACKZ* AND I LOVE STEVEN!!! :D been so long since i last visited steve. :P

Anonymous said...

It is one nation, one party, one singapore.. a little bit conflicted with Warwick university ethos of many nations, many views and global knowledge lah

OMFG!! said...

nice to hear the news...

clyde said...

I remember a year or 2 back when my friend's lecturers at Sheffield U went to London to participate in the anti-war protest. Naturally he and his classmates were thrilled to 'cut class'.

soci said...

"the commissioned opinion is confidential" unable to get a copy of the advisory report.

So how did John Burton manage to hear of it?

akikonomu said...

soci: problem through the usual sources at Warrick? At any rate, the full details of the report and the language it's couched in will tell us volumes about how Singapore's leaders 'negotiate' with foreign educational institutes. I suppose this is way beyond a loyalty oath kind of thing...

LuckySingaporean said...

my blog : http://happycitizen.blogspot.com

It is important to keep Warwick out because it refuses to keep the status quo and promise not to suggest any changes to the political system of Singapore. They also refused to promise not to criticise Singapore govt policy.

The purpose of a University education is to learn how to maintain the status quo and not to change it. After Singaporean's NUS education, the most important thing is for them to look for a jobs and contribute to the economy, make money and use it for shopping. That is the primary purpose of university education in Singapore - Students should spend time thinking about how to improve the govt, the PAP has told us that is not desirable.

Anonymous said...

hi lucky man

sometimes it may not be too lucky to be under the rule of "mao ze tong's ideology", you know. PAP realises that creativity is the predominance in university education and not intellectuals; otherwise, economy cannot improve at all, esp. in singapore. So, without criticisms, there is no improvement nor innovations.

Rethinking Singaporeans

locky2ky said...

But it is not final yet. The varsity council could decide to come if EDB give it attractive incentive. Singapore govt can be generous you know?

soci said...

To be perfectly honest I would not be surprised if Warwick University decide to go ahead with the planned campus in Singapore despite the mis-givings of the academic staff. After all they are merely one group amongst many in the organisation.

Anonymous said...

why the fuss? we should be good dogs of the gov't and not challenge or upset the status quo mah.. don't waste time protesting or what lah.. gotta conserve energy and take care of health so we can work until 70 yrs old and the economy and employment will increase and our gov't people bonuses will increase. they need a lot of money lei.. otherwise how to make sure public money won't be embezzled and how to send their kids to expensive overseas unis?

by the way, i think the bus, taxis and road minister is the most lousy minister ever.. you know that time the people must be evicted cuz LTA want their land.. the dumbass minister said police will make sure these people move out.. nabei cheeebye where got these kind of minister one? instead of coming up with an alternate solution, he said he will call police and force the people to move out.. chao cheebye our money go toward paying this kind of commie fucks ah? i might as well throw into the sea at least can hear the "plop" sound better..

soci said...

Having read the articles from Warwick Boar, it also seems that the University was planning on charging full international fees to students at the Sg Campus, somewhere in the region of 11,000 pounds stirling a year. I would really not endorse such a move if it was planning on charging such a a high amount. I think it would be extremely difficult to convince students to cough up so much when a cheaper alternative, which results in a degree is also available. Yes I know that the University of Chicago is expensive butthey have limited themselves to a very small site and exclusive number of students. Trying to aim at a mass market while charging large fees is in my humble opinion not viable.

clyde said...

In my opinion, 11k sterling is already daylight robbery of an arm and leg for international students. Plus that kinds of defeats the purpose of having an sg campus does it not? I'm guessing any student who can afford that kind of fee is most probably going to afford flying to the UK and the living expenses too.

soci said...

I agree, and so do a large number of those involved in the debate at Warwick Boar. Doesn't make any sense. I wonder how New South Wales are approaching it.

I feel that NSW are going ahead with their plans as they are advertising for staff on jobs.ac.uk.

soci said...

If you want you can apply on their site here...


Anonymous said...

anonymous 8.06

yeah, you're not happy but pls don't use "vulgar" words.



Beach-yi said...

Well, people, UNSW is definietly going ahead with it, most oftthe plans are being firmed up now, can visit www.unsw.edu.au for more details.

11k pounds = approx. S$30k = crazy man. Even UNSW don't charge that much for a year.

I think UNSW have a rather different concern from Warwicks' academics since their (UNSW) focus is undergrad education initially.

mister k said...

it is somewhat embarrassing for singapore to have specially sourced for schools rejecting them in such a lopsided vote.

from the looks of it, warwick looks set to rock this nation only if the calls are met. it appears to be a compromise of the highest level i.e liberalisation vs quality education.

i sincerely doubt that the demands would be met. if so, the lecturers in ntu and nus would be lecturing to nothingness.

LuckySingaporean said...

Why the fuss?

Warwick is not compatible. It is for the ultimate good of Singapore that they don't come.


Elia Diodati said...

It's nice to know that at even in this age of crass materialism that there are academics who value more than just the bottom line, even if the bottom line does in this case seem to be quite a bit at the root of the issue.

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