Settlement in Singapore Over Failed University

University of New South Wales agrees to reimburse government of island nation for millions it spent to help establish first foreign university -- which closed within five months of opening.
December 13, 2007

Australia's University of New South Wales has agreed to repay 32 million Singapore dollars, or $22 million, in loans and grants made to it by various agencies of the Singaporean government to help establish what was to become a doomed campus venture on the island nation.

The controversial school shut in June amid an enrollment slump, barely five months after opening its doors.

UNSW Asia, as the operation was known, had been the only foreign institution ever to operate a full-fledged university in Singapore -- and the first full-fledged foreign university ever to fail in Southeast Asia. A number of smaller Australian-led academic operations in the region also withdrew from the region during 2007.

The institution's Australian backers had predicted enrollment of as many as 15,000 students by the end of next decade, but fewer than 150 had signed up for its first semester this year.

A spokeswoman for the Sydney-based institution would neither confirm nor deny the dollar amount of the settlement reported in The Singapore Straits Times, which is close to its government.
In a statement, which followed months of behind-the-scenes wrangling, the university said that all loans made to it from "various" agencies of the Singaporean government had now been repaid.

The statement said UNSW would continue to work with its Singaporean counterparts on research collaborations in areas like water and clean energy.


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