Warwick plans Asia base

November 26, 2004

Warwick University is looking to open a campus in Singapore for up to 10,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students after an invitation from the city-state's government.

The university said it was "honoured" and that it was giving the proposal "detailed and careful consideration". Warwick's council and senate have both backed an extensive feasibility study into the proposal, and its recommendations will be published by the middle of next year.

If it goes ahead, Warwick will become the second foreign university to set up shop in Singapore and it may be one of only three overseas institutions allowed to run a campus in the state.

A Warwick spokesman said: "All universities are becoming more transnational and the UK has to do the same. It could be very positive for students."

Students from the Singapore campus would be able to study or research for a period at Warwick's campus in Coventry, while students from England could make the opposite trip.

Singapore's Economic Development Board envisaged the campus opening in 2008 and said that it would grow to about 10,000 students, recruiting up to three-quarters of them from overseas.

The EDB said it was "in discussions with various universities in the US and Britain on possible projects and collaborations" and would not comment further.

In April, the University of New South Wales announced an agreement to establish a £39 million private teaching and research university in South Changi, near Singapore's central business district, in 2007.

John Ingleson, UNSW deputy vice-chancellor (international), said it would be independently governed and charge fees of up to £9,280 a year.

Warwick is thought to be considering a more centralised structure, treating the Singapore venture as another campus of the university. It is already being referred to internally as "one university, two campuses".

Ken Flint, chair of the Association of University Teachers at Warwick, gave the project a qualified welcomed, saying he hoped that a Singapore campus would mean job opportunities.

"Most academics welcome the idea, but it has to be properly costed so that there is no drain on Warwick's resources," he said.

The Warwick invitation is the latest step in Singapore's drive to become an education hub. Ko Kheng Hwa, managing director of the EDB, said its "global schoolhouse" vision was based on luring top private schools with global brands at secondary, undergraduate, postgraduate, corporate and continuing education levels.

London Metropolitan University is also considering locations for its first offshore campus, possibly in Africa, Asia or in the Middle East.

Mark Bickerton, director of student recruitment, marketing and communications, said two or three places were being examined in detail. He said there were only a small number of countries where it was possible to overcome the regulatory hurdles as well as being a desirable place to open a campus.

The university's governors are expected to consider a proposal in late January.

  • In a report on November 12, Shih Choon Fong, president of the National University of Singapore, was mistakenly described as the university's student union president.

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