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74
myself, am teaching exactly what I want with the usual lack of 
oversight enjoyed by any professor teaching at NYU in Washington 
Square,’’ in his course. ‘‘As an example of my unhindered freedom, 
my course requires the students to compare U.S. and Chinese con-
stitutional rules and concepts, and as background for this compari-
son I assign so-called ‘sensitive’ documents such as the infamous 
Document Number 9.’’
This is the kind of classroom that we have at NYU Shanghai 
today. And I do believe it is important that we have classrooms like 
this in order to be true to our mission as NYU. 
Mr. S
MITH
. Just so I am totally clear, it is your testimony that 
the seven taboos or seven silences—universal values, press free-
dom, civil society, citizens’ rights, criticism of the Communist Par-
ty’s past, neoliberal economics, and independence of the judiciary—
can all be taught in an unfettered way on your campus without any 
fear of retaliation? That is what happening? 
Mr. L
EHMAN
. That is my testimony. It is absolutely true. That 
is the case. And I should say, one of the interesting points about 
the seven taboos—and this is just an example of how complicated 
China is today—one of them I think that you mentioned is on 
neoliberal economics as a banned topic. If you go in Shanghai to 
the Tsinghua book store and look, you will see a display of two of 
the most prominent books right now there, and one of them is the 
speeches of Xi Jinping, and the other one, next to it, is a Chinese 
translation of a book by Professor Ned Phelps called ‘‘Mass Flour-
ishing.’’
Professor Phelps is a professor at Columbia University. He won 
the Nobel Prize in Economics. And ‘‘Mass Flourishing’’ is about the 
way in which modern capitalism is essential to enabling humans 
to flourish in a society that values what he calls vitalism. That is 
Shanghai today. 
And so, yes, on the one hand, there are these seven taboos—
never given to us, never given to NYU Shanghai, I should say, but 
I have heard about them. I have never seen them. But I seen them 
referred to widely. So there is that document out there. 
And I should say Premier Li Keqiang has spoken about Mr. 
Phelps’ book and has spoken about its importance. Premier Li 
Keqiang gave a talk in February in which he talked about Adam 
Smith’s ‘‘Theory of Moral Sentiments’’ and it is importance to their 
thinking about how the economy should develop. 
There are mixed signals everywhere in China today. We at NYU 
Shanghai operate consistent with our principles and no one has 
told us not to. 
Mr. S
MITH
. Not to belabor the point, but how much of a student’s 
cost, total costs are borne by the government? And does that have 
any impact as to how you bring students in, admit students into 
the school? 
Mr. L
EHMAN
. Sure. So the tuition for NYU Shanghai is the same 
as the tuition at NYU in New York. It is about $45,000 per year. 
Mr. S
MITH
. Is that in keeping with other colleges or universities 
in China? Is that parallel to or far in excess of? 
Mr. L
EHMAN
. You mean other Chinese universities? 
Mr. S
MITH
. Yes. 
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75
Mr. L
EHMAN
. Wildly in excess. Wildly in excess of what it is. And 
I believe that that is reflected in the nature of the education that 
we provide. The kind of education we provide is very labor inten-
sive and it is very expensive. And I believe that it is actually re-
flected in the difference in the quality of the education that we pro-
vide. 
Now, that level of tuition would be unaffordable to many of the 
best Chinese students. And therefore one of the important condi-
tions of opening NYU Shanghai was that there be a subsidy from 
the government of Shanghai that would enable Chinese students to 
pay 100,000 Renminbi per year, which is about $17,000, instead of 
$45,000. So that works out to about a $28,000 per-student subsidy 
for all Chinese students, not only ones——
Mr. S
MITH
. Who actually pays that, the central government or 
the Shanghai——
Mr. L
EHMAN
. Shanghai, city of Shanghai. 
Mr. S
MITH
. City of Shanghai. 
Mr. L
EHMAN
. City of Shanghai. 
And so if you look at the overall structure of our budget, as I 
said, NYU Shanghai is a tub on its own bottom. So no profits are 
distributed to NYU in New York and no subsidy is demanded from 
New York. Our budget is self-contained. 
So when we are full grown, when we have 2,000 undergraduates, 
the plan for the budget is that about 60 percent of the total cost 
of operating the campus will come from tuition, about 25 percent 
will come from government subsidy, and of which about 14 of that 
25 percent is going to be going to financial aid for Chinese stu-
dents. 
Mr. S
MITH
. Again, the tuition would be 60 percent. A large part 
of that is from the government as well, so——
Mr. L
EHMAN
. No, no, no. The 60 percent is what is sometimes re-
ferred to as sticker price tuition. So that is tuition. Financial aid 
reduces that cost for—is part of the expenditures against which 
that operates. 
So another way to think about it, I guess, would be to say the 
total budget will be about $200 million a year. About $60 million 
of that, $55 million of that, will be going to financial aid. So that 
means there is about $145 million left for operating costs. So I am 
talking about percentages of the $200 million. 
About 60 percent of that $200 million comes from tuition, about 
25 percent will come from government, and the last 15 percent will 
come from private philanthropy, and to the extent we operate exec-
utive education programs that are able to produce net surplus, that 
will be part of the last 15 percent. 
Mr. S
MITH
. Just one final question on the admissions. 
Mr. L
EHMAN
. Yes. 
Mr. S
MITH
. Are the students the children of the elite, are they 
just any child, any young person, I should say, who aspires and has 
the academic credentials to make it? And when the decisions are 
made by your local board, are there Chinese nationals on that 
board who are influencing this or is it done exclusively by NYU 
coming out of New York? 
Mr. L
EHMAN
. Exclusively by NYU. 
Mr. S
MITH
. New York, I mean. 
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