Higher Education in Singapore: The Policy State and Governance
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Singapore has drawn international attention as an example of a paternalistic, authoritarian state that has consistently maintained a highly interventionist stance in social and economic policies over the past six decades. This stance also extends to the governance of higher education (HE) (Tan in Shaping Singapore’s future: thinking schools, learning nation. Pearson Prentice Hall, Singapore, pp 82–94, 2004). This chapter will begin by setting out the nature of state governance in Singapore so that the reader will better understand the context of policy developments in HE. It will then analyse major government reforms over the past two decades allowing universities greater autonomy. It argues, however, that such reforms represent not a total relinquishing of the reins of control, but rather a decentralization and marketization under a “state supervision model” (Mok and Tan in Globalization and marketization in education: a comparative analysis of Hong Kong and Singapore. Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2004). The case of the Singapore Institute of Management University (UNISIM) is offered as an interesting example of how a hitherto private institution can be incorporated into the state framework of publicly funded autonomous universities. The chapter also examines the unsuccessful top-down “global schoolhouse” policy initiative to illustrate the practical limits of the active state interventionist stance in education policymaking.
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