Yale-NUS Collaboration

Recently, Yale and National University of Singapore signed a MoU to collaborate for establishing a new liberal arts college. It’s an important landmark in the area of international institutional collaborations in general and US-Asia partnerships in specific. It is important for at least three reasons which have implications for future collaborations:

1. Deriving value: Institutions need to build partnerships which create mutual value. To derive the value they have to invest in partnership but the key is that investment does not always have to monetary from both parties. Here it is important to evaluate what each party is investing and what each is deriving. In this MoU, Yale is making absolutely no direct financial investment and hence NUS and Singapore government are making financial investments. On the other hand, Yale is investing intellectual capital and brand equity which is much higher than NUS but at the same time it is gaining access to Asian market in a way it could not do by going solo.

2. Engaging stakeholders: Building a world-class partnership requires engagement and participation of stakeholders. There is always a risk that wider engagement may derail the processes and priorities. However, this is where it is important to understand the unique nature of educational leadership especially at research universities, which requires consensus building. As Prof. Warren Bennis¬†notes “So, unlike autocratic CEOs of yore, the would-be Larry Summerses of today’s academic world face the near-impossible task of forming and managing coalitions. That’s no easy feat when you consider the often warring factions within individual constituencies.” Here, the Yale-NUS prospectus did a good job of clearly addressing the faculty issues including curriculum, research and academic freedom.

3. Transparent communication: When the leading brands like Yale are involved in the collaboration it is bound to create news, however, the challenge is that speculation and misinterpretations also float at a rapid pace. Thus, a clear and transparent communication becomes very important. Yale has posted details about the nature and scope of the collaboration on its website and has addressed some of the key issues including that Yale will not award the degree or make any financial investment.

The prospectus states that “There is no urgency for Yale to venture abroad with a new campus now, but we do believe it is inevitable that the world’s leading universities by the middle of this century will have international campuses.” This is an encouraging sign which shows that internationalization of higher education will get much deeper and wider role in future.

Also see my earlier posting on international collaboration and world-class universities.

-Dr. Rahul Choudaha