Singapore’s $300m gift to Yale?
Update June 12th: Via the Straits Times, NUS and Yale has denied the $300m deal. Unfortunately the article is truncated, so we’ll have to wait till it becomes available elsewhere.
Yesterday, Jim Sleeper of the Huffington Post authored a long post criticising Yale’s partnership with NUS here. The article is very lengthy, and much of it rehashes topics such as human rights and freedom of speech. However, what caught my attention were the following paragraphs:
As Amsterdam was being denied entry into Singapore last month, I was seated at a dinner in Germany next to a very high official of a European university who’d been to Singapore a few times himself. “There’s $300 million for Yale in its deal with NUS,” he confided to me.
“What? How do you know that?” I asked. “Yale claims it’s not getting a dime from Singapore, although Singapore is paying all the costs of constructing and staffing the college itself.”
“Oh, it’s not a direct payment,” my interlocutor explained. “It’s what you call insider trading: Yale will be cut in on prime investments that Singapore controls and restricts through its sovereign wealth fund. These will be only investments, not payments, so there’s some risk. But you’ll [see] Yale’s endowment will swell by several hundred million in consequence of its getting in on these ventures.”
Let’s be clear on one thing. As a premium Ivy League university, Yale and other Ivy Leagues are willing to establish international branch campuses abroad simply because in most cases the host country has generously agreed to reimburse all development and operating expenses of the branch campus at no cost to the foreign university. New York University’s liberal arts campus at Abu Dhabi, for example is effectively reimbursed for all costs incurred by running the campus:
38. Has the creation of this campus diverted financial resources from NYU New York?
No. The government of Abu Dhabi addresses all of the costs associated with the NYU Abu Dhabi campus.
Likewise, a Sept 2010 Yale prospectus states that the Yale-NUS College would reimburse Yale for all expenses incurred including replacement cost of staff seconded to teach in the Yale NUS College. What’s surprising is that on top of this, Jim Sleeper says that Yale will be given or sold some kind of preferential investments currently controlled by either of Singapore’s two SWFs, Temasek Holdings and GIC to the tune of a few hundred million.
While there doesn’t appear to be any independent sources verifying Sleeper’s remarks, should it proves accurate, it’s troubling to Singaporeans that their hard-won reserves and investments would be turned over to the Yale endowment fund just for the purpose of getting them to set up campus. What’s worse is there has been no disclosure or discussion of such an agreement by the Singapore media. Singaporeans have every right to know if their secretive sovereign wealth funds are giving up good, profitable investments to foreign entities. What other things did the Singapore government promise Yale or the other foreign universities such as Imperial (NTU medical school), MIT (SUTD) which Singaporeans are not aware of?
This certainly sounds like a good question the MPs could raise in Parliament.