Massey pushes ahead with Singapore branch campus

Offshore venture will neither require funds from nor contribute to its struggling New Zealand parent, at least in the short term

April 16, 2024
Singapore skyline
Source: iStock

A New Zealand university has taken a step closer to the establishment of a branch campus in the hyper-competitive educational hub of Singapore, amid job losses and a looming deficit back home.

Massey University formalised the plan by signing an “enhanced collaboration agreement” with local partner PSB Academy in Singapore, as New Zealand prime minister Christopher Luxon watched on. Plans are “under way…to work towards the registration” of the campus, the university says.

Mr Luxon expressed support for the project. “This collaboration reflects the shared commitment of New Zealand and Singapore to advance education and foster global partnerships,” he said.

Massey vice-chancellor Jan Thomas said the academic programmes offered through the partnership would be tailored around the university’s “strengths” in business, science, the creative arts and the humanities and social sciences. “Sharing our expertise and meeting the needs of a broader market is a priority for Massey,” she said.

“Singapore is…a logical base for expansion into the south-east Asian market and beyond. We have been teaching in Singapore since 2008 and Massey has an excellent reputation there, and across southeast and southern Asia.”

Massey aims to enrol 5,000 offshore students by 2026, many of them in Singapore. Its offshore expansion comes amid rolling job losses from the university’s New Zealand campuses.

A restructure of the College of Sciences in late 2023 led to the removal of 56 positions overall. Another 20 jobs are slated to go in an overhaul of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Massey said it had recorded a deficit of NZ$41.4 million (£19.6 million) last year, up from NZ$8.8 million in 2022. Some NZ$19 million of the 2023 shortfall was due to “one-off” redundancy costs. But the university expects to break even in 2026 and post surpluses in subsequent years.

A spokeswoman said the branch campus would be financed through a wholly owned subsidiary company of the university, Massey Global Singapore Private Limited, which had “returned financial dividends” to its parent in recent years. Any surpluses from the company would now be reinvested into the Singapore operations “to ensure the success of the branch campus”, Massey’s spokeswoman said.

The “longer-term” expectation was that the company would resume its financial contributions to the university, she said.

PSB Academy claims to have educated more than 200,000 students since its founding 60 years ago, originally as a “small productivity unit” of the city state’s Economic Development Board.

The academy says it now has more than 17,000 students from more than 50 countries undertaking certificates, diplomas, degrees and short courses in fields including business, analytics, construction, engineering, hospitality, languages, life sciences and nursing.

It also claims “reputable and credible overseas university partners in the UK and ANZ region”, along with partner colleges in China, Indonesia and Myanmar.

Chief executive Derrick Chang said the agreement with Massey would boost PSB’s programme offerings. “We believe [it] will resonate strongly with both Singaporean and international students, further solidifying Singapore’s position as the education hub of south-east Asia.”

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