Sunday, May 27, 2007

USNW - a slap to the idea of edu-hubbing in SG

As someone pointed out, if EDB's statement about 15,000 regular students is true, then, with the expected 70% foreign population in the university, over 10,000 will be foreign.
(first, we have to ask, how big a campus would they need to host 15,000 students, but hey, we want a headcount of 6.5 million anyway!)

Those numbers would be highly satisficing for EDB's economic projection planners. However, they seem to have forgotten the impact on reputation of the generated piece of paper the students are after. Its not all about chasing a paper (unlike those scholastic scholars), its also about chasing the reputation.

By all perceptions, there was never a real chance that UNSW-SG would become better than UNSW itself. the SG branch was just going to be a degree-factory, where you put young aspirants in one end, and churn out lettered people in the other end.

Now correct me if I'm wrong, but, erm, most people who go for higher studies are less likely to fall for propaganda? We all decide which university we want to attend based on a multitude of factors, and the 'branding' it leaves on us for life.
(eg: one is forever known as an xxx university graduate, and the status stratification that may come with it.)

So with a reputation as a pure money-making factory, is it any wonder that given cost-competing substitutes, foreign students in the region might NOT want to come to SG, and rather, do it in Malaysia or in Australia for cheaper or equivalent?

A darker point to consider - UNSW-SG could have been set up to capture students from countries who may face difficulties in getting study visas in Australia, and UNSW-SG was designed to side-step that, with SG's more liberal student-visa policies.

However, that bet may have turned out to have much smaller returns than expected. Perhaps there just aren't that many people who have money to study yet face visa difficulties in this region.

Also, if it was true that the UNSW board only had 30 seconds to consider the project in SG, then the carrot dangled in front of them must have been so ludicrous that the only possible governance decision was a "go". And as usual, the black hole that is EDB will not disclose what kind of carrots we use. Transparency? neh.

At the end of the day, instead of organic growth, and attractiveness as a city, we've decided to go the sports-franchise route, and try to buy education franchises to set up in SG, rather than ensure that we have the attractive factors to sustain the franchise in the first place. The failure only means that such games should really still be left to the private sector, rather than governmental technocrats who cannot, no matter what, understand the financial bottomline at the end of the day, because it isn't their money.

Centrally planned economic development cannot work. We're just taking as long as the ex-great USSR to find out. HK isn't as planned, and is still doing as well if not better than us. Fallacy of causation somwhere in this.

E.o.M.

1 Comments:

Blogger Fox said...

At the end of the day, instead of organic growth, and attractiveness as a city, we've decided to go the sports-franchise route, and try to buy education franchises to set up in SG, rather than ensure that we have the attractive factors to sustain the franchise in the first place. The failure only means that such games should really still be left to the private sector, rather than governmental technocrats who cannot, no matter what, understand the financial bottomline at the end of the day, because it isn't their money.

No. I disgree.

The failure could mean that the technocrats who planned this venture were incompetent. However, it is difficult to conclude from the UNSW fiasco that ALL governmental intervention in the economic sphere will be doomed to failure.

Besides, it is hard to imagine any private sector entity with the kind of patience and capital to set up a private comprehensive university franchise in Singapore.

5:29 PM  

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