Can the great American universities take root in Asia?

Monday, August 5, 2013

The news that Chicago Booth Business School's executive MBA programme would relocate from Singapore was greeted in Hong Kong with as much enthusiasm as the acquisition of a star athlete. Education Secretary Eddie Ng Hak-kim trumpeted that the move would "enhance Hong Kong's position as a regional education hub, nurture talent to support the growth of our economy, and strengthen Hong Kong's competitiveness".

He could have been Hong Kong's cricket coach welcoming Mark Chapman from New Zealand only a week earlier: "We have a very good opportunity of playing in a World Cup for the first time and with the line-up we have, I think we can do it."

But the ongoing changes in higher education are more like biological evolution than a cricket match. Extinction too is part of evolution—and several other American outposts in Singapore, including New York University's Tisch School of the Arts and the hotel school of University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), are pulling out of the city state with uncertain future plans.

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