Over 10,000 sign petition calling for reversal of Yale-NUS merger

Petition also calls for reversal of two other mergers, cites lack of transparency and consultation with faculty

More than 10,300 people have signed an online petition calling on the National University of Singapore (NUS) to reverse its decision to merge Yale-NUS College with its University Scholars Programme (USP).

The petition also calls for the reversal of two other mergers.

The Faculty of Engineering and the School of Design and Environment will merge to form the College of Design and Engineering.

The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science have merged to form the College of Humanities and Sciences.

The petition is hosted on petition portal and titled #NoMoreTopDown. It carries a statement from a group of NUS students from different faculties.

Speaking to The Straits Times last night via Zoom, three students from the NUS Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences said they helped draft the petition and that more than 200 students across different faculties were involved.

One of them, a fourth-year USP student, said the petition was published on Monday. The petition said the decision by NUS to carry out the mergers lacked transparency and consultation with faculty and students, and showed a failure to care for the welfare of staff and students.

The planned merger of Yale-NUS and USP was announced last Friday. The college will stop taking in new students and the final batch will graduate in 2025. Several students said they were dismayed and anxious about their future.

Yale-NUS offered a liberal arts programme as part of a tie-up in 2011 between NUS and Yale, an elite Ivy League university in the United States.

The decision to merge the Faculty of Engineering and the School of Design and Environment was also announced last Friday, while the one to merge the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences with the Faculty of Science was announced last year.

About 18,000 students, or about half of NUS' total student body, are expected to be affected by the mergers.

The petition said the merger would have an impact on students and staff, yet they were left out of the decision-making process. It added that NUS should reverse the decision to carry out all three mergers and allow some form of review where student leaders, for instance, can be involved.

Last evening, about 400 former Yale-NUS students attended a townhall meeting with leaders from the college, including Yale-NUS president Tan Tai Yong. They raised questions on a range of topics involving the merger, including why and how the decision was made.

In response, college leaders said even many members of the Yale-NUS senior management were not given details, and were informed only in July.

Yale-NUS alumna Natalie Tan, 26, said: "We tried our best to get answers, but the people who made the decisions were not there to talk to us."