Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Bigger They Are, The Harder They Fall?: John Hopkins, Crazy Horse, UNSW Asia...

I don't know about you all but it seems to me that there exist parallels between the sudden announcement by the University of New South Wales Asia (UNSWA) yesterday that they will shutting down their campus here in June and recent closure of the "Crazy Horse" cabaret in Singapore and of the John Hopkins University Division of Medical Sciences last year.

All three, when it was first announced that they will be setting up in Singapore, been surrounded by much fanfare and excitement. All three of them were supposed to be great successes which will bring about great boosts to the Singaporean economy and, specifically for the opening of the "Crazy Horse" cabaret, "buzz" to the local entertainment scene. For example, according to today's Straits Times ("Shock exit by UNSW", ST, 24/5/2007), it was projected by the Economic Development Board (EDB) that UNSWA "would contribute at least $500 million a year to the Singapore economy".

Yet, as we all can see now, the great & grandiose expectations and projections for all three did not materialise. Instead, all three met with difficulties in meeting these projected targets and had to close down.

And, though I must confess that I am not entirely certain about the details about the reasons behind the closure of these three institutions, it seems to me that perhaps one similar factor contributing to their closure could be the seemingly inflexibility of the Singaporean agencies that were working with them. For example, it was reported that the EDB, for reasons unknown as of now, rejected the UNSWA's scaled-down proposal of having just 2,000 students by 2012, instead of the original target of 15,000 students by 2020. And, as for the "Crazy Horse" cabaret, restrictive advertising & operating guidelines put in place by the Singaporean authorities were reported to have partially contributed to the poor audience turnout which forced it to decide to close down.

In addition, it seems to me that news about the closure of all three were all very sudden, with not much inkling that they had run into any difficulties. An apt example of the abruptness of the closures would be how, according to the Straits Times, "a meeting was hastily convened in one of the lecture halls" to make the announcement that the UNSWA will be closing down and that both students & staff of the institution were greatly shocked by this sudden announcement.

Hmm... I wonder why, seeing how the UNSWA has already showed signs of difficulties in meeting its projected targets when only 148 students enrolled during its first semester in March (instead of the expected 300), is it that we did not hear anything about these difficulties in the local mainstream media until now? Well, perhaps it is just that UNSWA did not release any details of its enrollment figures to the media.

Okay now, hopefully, the adage of "bad things happen in three" is true and future projects between Singapore and foreign institutions, e.g. the F1 car racing, will not face the same fate as the three institutions of John Hopkins, Crazy Horse and UNSWA...

1 comment:

chillycraps said...

what surprises me most is that UNSW has a wide advertisement campaign quite recently at bus shelters... (those what next nobel thingie..)

I thought they would stay on as one of the key players.

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