Secrecy and Accountability in the UNSW Asia Aftermath

I mentioned before that it has been difficult to find out the real reasons for the UNSW Asia closure in Singapore in May this year. The University of New South Wales has not exactly followed a transparent strategy in this issue (for my interpretation of the events, look at this post).

A similar level of secrecy seems to be applied to the further handling of the case. This week the Singapore Straits Times reported that the University of New South Wales has agreed to repay some 25 million Australian dollars to Singapore.

The Singapore Economic Development Board said that UNSW has signed a ‘settlement agreement in respect of all outstanding loans and grants payable to the Singapore Government’. Both parties (EDB and UNSW) however declined to comment since they ‘are bound by the terms of agreement which are confidential’.

This makes the issue that I put forward earlier even more pressing. How do we deal with the private ventures of public institutions? Shouldn’t a public university be held publicly accountable for its risky private operations overseas? Clearly, transparency and public accountability are not high on the priority list in the aftermath of the UNSW Asia debacle…

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