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The Ivy League marches East

posted Nov 23, 2012, 1:31 AM by Mpelembe   [ updated Nov 23, 2012, 1:31 AM ]

Reuters Business Video Report - It's study time at Raffles Institution - an elite secondary school in Singapore.

Senior Stephanie Siow is busy with exams and college applications.

She's applied early to Yale in the U.S.

But there's another school that's also caught her eye: Yale's Singapore joint venture.


"Actually, I have many friends who are really excited about it. They can't believe Yale is coming to Singapore of all places in the world."

And Yale isn't alone.

Western schools have been turning to Asia for expansion, moving to capitalize on education-obsessed families and students who have more money to spend.

Countries ranging from China to Singapore to Malaysia are competing to roll out the red carpet, hoping to become prestigious centers of learning and innovation.

The fastest growth has been in China where international branch campuses rose 70% in just two years.

Raffles Institution college counselor Kevin Sim.


"Traditionally if you wanted a liberal arts college, you have to go to the U.S. and pay U.S.fees, but now you can go to Yale-NUS and it's definitely a lot cheaper and it's closer to home."

Next year, NYU is opening a degree-granting campus in Shanghai to complement programs in New York and Dubai.

NYU President John Sexton:


"We're very very careful in choosing the places we go. When we go, we go in ways that are guaranteed to producer excellence as we define it and we choose our partners very very carefully."

But the fast pace of expansion is raising some red flags.

NYU's Tisch arts school says it will close its branch in Singapore because of financial troubles.

Finances are a concern even for non-arts schools.

Critics call the new Yale-NUS venture - set to open in the fall of 2013 - "Frankenyale" .

And human rights groups are concerned tightly controlled Singapore may crimp its academic freedoms.

Yale-NUS declined our request for comment.

So far these concerns don't seem to be deterring students like these from chasing their white and blue dreams - something they can now do closer to home.