Spandana Bhattacharya, Joyan Tan

Photos used with permission from Yale-NUS College Public Affairs

Topping Out Ceremony

Governing Board members celebrate at Yale-NUS’ Topping Out Ceremony in March 2014.

The birth of Yale-NUS College is the result of a marriage like no other. It brings together two “great” universities—Yale University and National University of Singapore (NUS)—in a bid to create a distinct college, or as Yale-NUS’ promotional materials express it mathematically, “1+1=3”.

As with all other relationships, this marriage comes with the perennial question—“Who does more in the relationship?” The answer is complex and requires an analysis of the different aspects of Yale-NUS, such as funding and operation. The Singaporean government shoulders maximum responsibility of the former while both Yale and NUS contribute to the latter. Funding for Yale-NUS is derived from three main sources: the Singapore Government, donors, and tuition fees.

The Singaporean government provides funding for the construction of the new campus, building up of endowment and Yale- NUS’ operating expenses. At present, Yale- NUS operations are centred in Residential College 4 while the new campus is being constructed. It is estimated to be completed by the start of Academic Year 2015/2016. As reported by the Yale Daily News, the cost of the new campus is US$240 million, fully paid for by “NUS—funded by the Singaporean government.”

Yale-NUS President Pericles Lewis observed, “The building cost is certainly the biggest upfront cost.”

In addition, the Singaporean government matches endowments gifted to Yale-NUS by a 3:1 ratio. Lewis explained, “The Singapore government matches all endowments and gives at least an equal amount. It depends on the nature of the donation.” According to a press release by the Ministry of Education, the Singaporean government provides “1.5:1 matching for all universities for up to 20 years”, as of January 2010. New institutions like Singapore University of Technology and Design and Yale-NUS receive 3:1 matching for up to the first 10 years.

One example of this is stated in a NUS news release dated Jan. 17, 2012. NUS received S$12.9 million gifts from corporate and private donors led by Singapore Airlines and Singapore Exchange. Out of this, S$11.9 million was directed to “support new initiatives at Yale- NUS” while $1 million went to NUS Global Asia Institute. The Singaporean government’s matching brought total funding to S$49.6 million.

Nevertheless, not all gifts are eligible for enhanced matching and NUS’ Regulation 12, titled ‘Gifts to the University’, lays out the criteria. The gifts must be received for “the advancement of education”, not received “as part of fulfilling the Donor’s legal obligations”, not received “in return for a service rendered by the University”, and must not be “conditional upon the purchase of specific goods and/or services prescribed by the Donor”.

The Singaporean government also provides funding for Yale-NUS’ operating expenses. Lewis explained, “All universities in Singapore get a certain amount per student… the exact amount varies. For example, we have 320 students, the government pays this amount to support the students.” Lewis noted that this amount may vary depending on whether the student is Singaporean or International. When asked about specific details of the amount, Yale- NUS spokesperson Fiona Soh commented that such details are rarely made public.

Yale-NUS Inauguration

Yale-NUS welcomed its First Class in Fall 2013.

Aside from the Singaporean government, Yale-NUS also receives gifts from other sources. Yale-NUS accepts both endowed and expendable gifts, and its website explains the distinction as, “An endowed gift has a long- term impact on the future of the College as the principal is retained and invested. The returns earned will go towards supporting the gift purpose. An expendable gift has an immediate impact. The entire amount will be spent on the donor’s intended gift purpose.”

Lewis explained that the two main sources of seeking philanthropic support are NUS’ Development Office and Yale-NUS’ DevelopmentOffice. Lewis stated,“Our focus now… is to focus on major donors who can give us substantial amounts because we need to build up our endowment relatively quickly.” Still, Yale-NUS eventually plans to launch Annual Giving to solicit financial support from staff, faculty, parents of students and ultimately alumni.

Andy Loo, Senior Associate Director of Yale-NUS’ Development Office, commented, “Our priorities are financial aid (scholarships and study awards), academic support (professorships and fellowships) as well as student programmes (e.g. CIPE and DoS programmes).”At present, financial aid has been and continues to be the most popular gift category. In terms of future plans, the Office aims to raise S$100 million over the next few years.

When asked about Yale’s role, Soh responded, “Yale-NUS’ Development Office and Yale’s Office of Development are in contact with each other. If there are suitable donors, these will be recommended to the College accordingly.”

At present, Yale-NUS’ financial statements are reflected as part of the annual financial statements of NUS. According to NUS Giving Reports, Yale-NUS has raised approximately S$11 million, S$24 million and S12.5 million for Financial Years 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. The total gifts received from donors, not including matching grants, add up to approximately S$47.5 million.

The third source of funding for Yale-NUS comes from tuition fees paid by students. The annual tuition fee for 2015 is S$18,000 for Singapore citizens, S$25,200 for Permanent Residents and S$36,000 for International students. However, the fee for Permanent Residents and International students reflects a tuition subsidy by the Singaporean government, requiring them to work for three years for a Singapore-registered company if taken up. Should they choose to decline the grant, students are required to pay an additional fee of S$16,800 per year.

Aside from funding, Yale-NUS also receives assistance from Yale and NUS in other aspects like faculty recruitment. “Yale faculty and administrative leaders have been active in helping to conceptualise the unique emphasis of the College on reframing the liberal arts for a more global context.” Soh remarked, “They have also participated directly in the recruitment of faculty and senior administrators and been openly enthusiastic about opportunities to bring back to Yale some of the curricular and extracurricular innovations in development at the College. In addition, many Yale faculty visit the College to teach.”

Initially, Yale and NUS played an important role in recruiting faculty for Yale-NUS. Charles Bailyn, Yale-NUS Dean of Faculty, stated, “In the first instance, before there were any Yale-NUS faculty, all the search committees consisted of equal numbers of Yale and NUS faculty.” This has gradually shifted toward comprising of more Yale-NUS faculty.

Formal programs that bring Yale and NUS faculty to Yale-NUS are also in place. They can be “seconded” to Yale-NUS with the agreement of Yale-NUS and the home faculty and department at Yale and NUS respectively. According to Lewis, the salaries and associated costs of Visiting Professors and staff are covered by Yale-NUS.

Yale-NUS students also have the opportunity to study at Yale in New Haven for a semester, or participate in Yale’s study abroad programs. For instance, nine Yale-NUS students will be studying abroad at either Yale University or Yale in London next semester. Soh added, “They can also participate in a variety of creative collaborative degree programs such as a concurrent BA/MA degree program with Yale’s School of Forestry.”

Anastasia Vrachnos, Dean of Centre for International and Professional Experience at Yale-NUS, added that internship exchanges remain a future possibility as Yale-NUS students become upperclassmen and women. “Our counterparts [at Yale and NUS] have been incredibly welcoming and generous… CIPE works in very close collaboration and we have been very pleased when, even in these early stages of launching our programming, we’ve been able to create opportunities that interest and add value to the experiences of Yale and NUS students as well,” Vrachnos commented.

Vrachnos stressed that Yale-NUS also welcomes Yale students for a semester-long exchange once the Yale-NUS campus opens, and potential initiatives that include hosting and housing Yale interns are in the works. Similarly, Yale-NUS CIPE opens opportunities for NUS students and previously hosted 5 NUS students in NGO Bootcamp, a 5-day training event centered on non-profits, organized by Yale-NUS last summer.

Upon graduation, Yale-NUS students also gain access to Yale’s and NUS’ alumni networks. Soh commented that Yale-NUS will be starting its own alumni association in due course.

Operation-wise, Yale-NUS’ Board of Governors comprises an equal number of Yale and Singapore representatives, who, according to Yale-NUS’ Charter, “have all the authority necessary and appropriate for carrying out all duties and responsibilities in developing, managing and operating the College.” This includes approving the overall budget of Yale-NUS each year. The Chair and Singapore representatives are nominated by Singapore’s Ministry of Education while the Yale representatives are nominated by the Yale Corporation after consultation with the Ministry of Education.

This marriage between Yale and NUS may not last forever. The initial contractual agreement between Yale and NUS to form Yale-NUS can be reviewed at fixed intervals and even withdrawn from. Soh remarked, “Yale and NUS have a contractual partnership to set up the College. At fixed intervals within the contract both partners are given the opportunity to evaluate the partnership and the option to withdraw from it.” When asked about the details of the review period, Soh noted that details of contractual agreements are rarely made public. She added, “However, the strong support and commitment from both founding institutions to realize the success of the College is a positive sign of the strength and depth of their ties.”

At present, Yale-NUS has been up and running for three semesters.

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