Whether a university is ranked high or low, there are always elements within the university that a Singaporean institution can learn from, Minister for Education Chan Chun Sing said in Parliament on Sep. 13.
Adding that he was "personally not very taken by (university) rankings per se", he elaborated:
"It doesn't mean that a highly-ranked university is good for everything and (for) another university that's not so highly-ranked, there's nothing that we can learn."
Chan was responding to a question by Workers' Party (WP) He Ting Ru, where she asked about the impact of the decision to merge Yale-NUS with the University Scholars Programme (USP) on existing and future tie-ups with other universities, as well as Singapore's own academic standing and reputation.
Singapore must take a "open" approach to entering partnerships with other universities
Chan then added that it is necessary for Singapore to take an "open" approach in considering partnerships with other universities to ensure that it is possible to continue learning from them and taking the best aspects of the relationship.
At the same time, Singaporean universities must also ensure that it brings value to the other party, instead of just copying on the basis that they are superior.
"Even if we try to learn from others, we must be prepared and be confident to check out our own way to have our own unique value propositions. And that is how we will continue to go forward."
This brought up Chan's point that he did not think the decision to merge Yale-NUS with USP would have any implications on current partnerships or future ones that they were exploring.
He said, "For every partnership, we have milestones to check to make sure that both parties find it mutually beneficial for both of us to continue that relationship."
In addition, once a partnership has arrived at a "natural conclusion", Singapore must be prepared to chart its own way forward, develop its own unique value-proposition so that it can be even more attractive to other potential partners, Chan added.
University experience must be more inclusive and affordable
When He asked about the alternatives to merge Yale-NUS with USP, and why they were not taken, Chan replied that there were two guiding options on making any decision.
The first option, according to Chan is:
"(Making) sure that we develop a generation of students that are much more global in their perspective, (and) much more able to apply interdisciplinary approach to problem solving."
The second option is:
"Making sure that the whole experience in our universities is much more inclusive, much more affordable, much more accessible to a wider number of students."
As such, it was on the basis of these two options that NUS decided that merging Yale-NUS with USP was the best way to make it more affordable and accessible to students, Chan said.
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