Schools Training

Why it still makes sense to build an overseas campus

26 FEB 2014

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Students have always travelled in search of the best study opportunities and researchers have always collaborated across borders. But until fairly recently, higher education institutions have been stubbornly national – whether limited by the demands of domestic regulation or by protectionist approaches in potential destinations.

With the exception of a small number of private sector initiatives and small-scale overseas study centres, universities have for the most part remained fundamentally bound by their geography. But the past 20 years or so have seen almost seismic shifts in context, policy and regulation, and in attitudes and behaviour.

Now a new report by the British Council on opportunities for UK universities in India has warned them off investing in the bricks and mortar of an overseas campus. Instead, it points to calls from Indian higher education officials for more research partnerships.

All this comes in the context of a big growth in the number of degree programmes being delivered through international partnerships, as shown by new statistics on the number of people studying for UK degrees abroad. And despite the words of caution above, institutional mobility has much to offer universities – it is a realistic strategic option.

Pushed and pulled overseas

The University of Nottingham opened its Malaysia campus back in 2000. A number of push and pull factors made the idea of an international campus particularly attractive – and they still apply.

Estimates suggest fewer than 5% of students globally travel overseas for their education, a figure which is unlikely to increase dramatically. So, establishing a physical presence internationally would provide the opportunity to work with staff and students who would not, or could not, come to the UK.

A range of factors, including considerations of scale, funding and demographics, placed limits on domestic expansion. And, as other countries became more active in terms of international student recruitment, it became increasingly clear that UK institutions would need to be innovative if they wished to continue to attract high-quality students and staff.

 

Read full article: The Guardian