Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Overseas Branch Campuses Fall out of Favour

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Overseas Branch Campuses Fall out of Favour

Article excerpt

Internationalisation refocuses on student mobility and strategic partnerships. Chris Havergal writes

Opening branch campuses is now the lowest internationalisation priority for European universities, according to a major study, prompting suggestions that a market dominated by UK institutions is now past its peak.

In a survey conducted by the European Association for International Education, just 1 per cent of respondents who worked for universities said that they had witnessed a substantial increase in branch campus activity at their institution in the past three years.

Twelve per cent said they had seen an increase, while 53 per cent reported no change and 1 per cent said branch campus activity had decreased.

This puts branch campuses at the bottom of the list of 15 internationalisation trends that the EAIE asked about, with institutions focusing instead on strategic partnerships and student mobility.

The report, The EAIE Barometer: Internationalisation in Europe, was based on 2,411 responses from across the European Higher Education Area, mainly from employees of higher education institutions. The question about internationalisation trends was answered by 1,365 university staff.

The UK has led the way in Europe on branch campuses; it set up 35 of the 99 outposts listed as of this month by the Cross-Border Education Research Team at the State University of New York Albany. However, branch campuses did not figure highly when the survey answers from the 168 UK respondents were considered separately.

Nigel Healey, pro vice-chancellor (international) at Nottingham Trent University, said the findings were "consistent with the slowing pace of investment" in branch campuses.

Three institutions accounted for more than 90 per cent of all UK branch campus enrolments in 2012-13, Professor Healey said. These were the University of Nottingham, in Malaysia and China; Middlesex University, in Dubai and Mauritius; and Heriot-Watt University in Dubai (the institution has since opened another branch campus in Malaysia).

Other institutions have announced the closure of foreign campuses. University College London is shutting its site in Australia and reviewing its operations in Qatar, while the University of East London closed its Cyprus arm after just six months because of poor recruitment.

Professor Healey said the sector may now be at "peak branch campuses". …

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