The President of Yale University, Peter Salovey, issued a statement this week announcing that the Yale-NUS (National University of Singapore) partnership will cease in 2025. The statement indicated that Yale was informed by the NUS President that the previous Yale-NUS program would be combined with NUS's University Scholars Program to form a larger liberal arts college that was not cobranded with Yale.
The full announcement by Yale's President expressed that "we would have liked nothing better than to continue" and, "that President Tan has said that he wishes to draw on the best features of Yale-NUS College in creating the new college. His rationale for this decision is that the formation of the new college will enable it to offer elements of the Yale-NUS curriculum and deliver interdisciplinary liberal arts education at a greater scale for the student population."
Yale-NUS College, begun 12 years ago, has been a high profile initiative of two very elite institutions. Therefore, parting ways will surely raise interesting questions moving forward. Two phrases from the official statement from Yale provide a window into understanding Singapore's motivation in dropping the Yale brand - "will enable it to offer elements" and "greater scale."
Coverage by the Yale Daily News recounted slightly different information from the Yale-NUS communications while adding reference to abridged academic freedom and censorship. Yale News provided more detail with an affirmative assessment of moving the Yale-NUS College to exclusive NUS oversight. The Octant, a Yale-NUS student run publication, offered personal expressions of disappointment and anger in some cases at the lack of transparency in the decision to dissolve the Yale-NUS College. A subsequent Yale News article included more about the unilateral decision by NUS and included numerous points to highlight the errors of the decision.
Another difficult issue that Yale-NUS faces as well as other educators in Singapore is a new law to investigate and obstruct negative information campaigns. Such a measure could begin to undermine presumed academic freedom.
American arrogance may have been the Achilles heal that led to the failure of the Yale-NUS model, including a belief that the influence of liberal thinking could overcome governmental and cultural control. Persistent accusations that Yale is in decline, which tarnishes the Yale University brand, may also have contributed to abandoning the Yale-NUS arrangement.