UNSW Asia to close

UNSW Asia to close
28 May 2007
The University of New South Wales will close its campus in Singapore, Vice-Chancellor Professor Fred Hilmer announced today.

The campus will be closed on 28 June 2007, the end of the current semester.

The decision has been reached after extensive discussions with Singapore's Economic Development Board and follows lower than anticipated enrolments.

"We have been fully committed to the success of this enterprise, and are disappointed to have to make this decision," Professor Hilmer said.

"We particularly regret the disruption to students and the consequences for staff.

"However an intensive review of our operations in Singapore clearly indicates that to continue would involve an unacceptable level of risk to our institution.

"We are taking the decision to close at the end of the current semester, because to attempt to continue would not be in the best interest of the students," Professor Hilmer said.

UNSW was invited by the Singapore Economic Development Board in 2004 to establish what would have been the first private comprehensive university in Singapore.

"The University Council and senior management of the time accepted this invitation in good faith, and after taking extensive expert advice," Professor Hilmer said.

"UNSW Asia was to be the first comprehensive research and teaching institution to be established by an Australian university overseas.

"This was an initiative with potentially significant benefits to both Singapore and the University.

"However the lower than anticipated enrolments and current demand have highlighted financial and operational issues that make the operation unsustainable."

"As with any pioneering venture, there is a fuller appreciation of the risks involved once the venture becomes operational."

The University's first priority is the welfare of the students currently studying at the University's campus at Tanglin, said Professor Hilmer.

"All enrolled students will be offered a place at UNSW's home campus in Sydney, with scholarships to help with travel and accommodation costs. And we will work with those who are unable to accept a place in Sydney to meet their needs."

Students were informed of the decision today. A team of advisers will work with students on a case-by-case basis to develop the best solution for each student's particular situation.

Discussions with affected staff are also underway, following a general meeting with UNSW Asia staff members.

The UNSW Asia campus currently has 148 enrolled students, with some 100 of these being Singapore residents. The anticipated enrolment for the initial intake in 2007 was 300 students. Second semester enrolments were anticipated at 480 students but it is clear that this target would not be met.

Professor Hilmer said that UNSW looks forward to continuing its cooperative relationships in Singapore and will maintain its presence in Singapore, through activities such as foundation schooling for university entry, research collaborations, University of New South Wales school competitions and joint programmes with Singapore institutions.

Media contact, Sydney: Judy Brookman, UNSW Director of Communications, ph + 61 2 9385 3249, mob 0421 061 251, j.brookman[at]unsw.edu[dot]au

Date issued: Wednesday 23 May, 2007.