Foreign university campuses and linkage schemes: opportunities and challenges in early 2008

The establishment of overseas/branch/foreign campuses, and substantial international university linkage schemes, continues to generate news announcements and debate.

Over the last two months, for example, Queen Margaret University in Scotland announced that it would be Singapore’s first foreign campus set up by a UK university (a fact that received little media coverage in Singapore).

The University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business (GSB) announced that their Singapore-based campus would be doubling in size by 2009 (a fact that received much media coverage in Singapore), while the University of Chicago’s Financial Mathematics Department announced it would establish a graduate program in Singapore, likely in association with Chicago’s Stevanovich Center for Financial Mathematics. Further details are available here.

Finally, on the Singapore front, MIT and Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) jointly announced the establishment of the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology Centre (SMART), a “complex of research centres set up by world-class research universities and corporations working collaboratively with Singapore’s research community”. As MIT describes it:

SMART is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) largest international research endeavor and the first research center of its kind located outside Cambridge, Mass. It will offer laboratories and computational facilities for research in several areas, including biomedical science, water resources and the environment, and possible additional research thrusts that encompass such topics as interactive digital media, energy, and scientific and engineering computation.

Besides serving as an intellectual hub for robust interactions between MIT and global researchers in Singapore, the SMART Centre will also provide MIT and Singapore new and unique opportunities to perform interdisciplinary experimental, computational and translational research that takes advantage of MIT’s long-standing collaborations in Singapore.

The joint press release can be downloaded here. Needless to say this was also a high profile media item in Singapore.

Noteworthy, too, is the fact that the Chicago and MIT initiatives in Singapore involve regular (versus contract) base campus faculty and researchers, reflecting core principles guiding their respective internationalization agendas. This is clearly enabled by direct and indirect Government of Singapore support, and relatively high tuition fees.

Meanwhile, in the Middle East and East Asia, the University of Calgary-Qatar (a joint venture between the University of Calgary and the Hamad Medical Corporation), and the University of Nottingham Ningbo, have both been busy searching out faculty (contract/contingent/secondment/visiting only, it seems) for their respective campuses.

nottningboroom.jpgEmployment sites always provide insights into how these types of ventures are represented, and how the transnational staffing dimension is handled, so check out what is on offer at Calgary-Qatar and Nottingham-Ningbo. I must admit, however, that the sterile curtained room on offer to three year-long contract faculty in Ningbo (photo to the left) does not exactly look appealing, exciting though China (and Ningbo) are. Perhaps they just hired a bad photographer:)

Over in Saudi Arabia the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), which we have written about before, is filling media outlets like the Economist with full page advertisements for senior and mid-level administrative staff. The largesse available to KAUST, and the Singaporean influence on its development model, was also evident when it announced, incrementally in globally circulated press releases, that it was moving forward on substantial collaborative ventures, at an institutional scale, with the American University in Cairo, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, Imperial College London, Institut Français du Pétrole, National University of Singapore, Stanford University, Technische Universität München, University of California, Berkeley, University of Texas at Austin, and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. These are substantial and lucrative linkages, according to Changing Higher Education, with Berkeley’s Mechanical Engineering Department (the lead linkage unit at Berkeley), for example, receiving US $28 million to participate in this scheme between 2008 and 2013.

KAUST is also attempting to leapfrog in the development process by buying in individual scientific support via their Global Research Partnership (GRP) Investigator competition. This scheme, which will initially support 12 “high caliber researchers” from the “world’s leading research universities”, allows KAUST greater flexibility to target individual researchers in fields or universities that might not be enabled via institutional linkage schemes like the ones mentioned above.

kaustcampus.jpgInterestingly KAUST’s graphic design consultants have worked very hard to create a sunny high tech image for the campus, which is still being developed, though they actually have less to work with (on the ground) than does Nottingham in Ningbo, not to mention significant security concerns to plan for when foreigners (especially US citizens) are involved. It just goes to show you how much work good or bad graphics (still & video, including the fascinating five minute long campus profile below) can do in creating distinctive representations of campuses such that they might appeal to mobile faculty and researchers living outside of the host country.

And on the analytical news front, Inside Higher Ed, and the New York-based Social Science Research Council’s new Knowledge Rules blog, both posted critical articles on the overseas campus institutional development model by Andrew Ross, a professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University (NYU), a university we profiled with respect to institutional strategic issues last autumn. Finally, Inside Higher Ed provided coverage of one initiative that had California Polytechnic State University, working with Jubail University College in Saudi Arabia, to develop approximately $6 million worth of programs for Jubail’s male only student population. But, as Inside Higher Ed notes, moving forward on this initiative might rub against (in a dejure or defacto way) core elements of Cal Poly’s internal code of conduct, and the national legal system it is embedded within (in this case U.S. equal employment laws that bar discrimination). The issue was put this way:

Faculty skeptical of the project — and by some accounts there’s plenty of skepticism on campus — wonder: Will opportunities truly be equally available to all Cal Poly faculty? Would women feel they can apply for an on-site director position in a country where they, unlike their male colleagues, would be barred from driving? What about homosexual faculty? Would they see good professional options in a country where sodomy is punishable by death? What about Jewish faculty in an Islamic country without religious freedoms?

The administration says that the bulk of the work to develop the programs would likely happen on the California campus. But site visits and long-term director positions abroad would be available. And there aren’t just opportunities, but also money, at stake here: The proposed base annual salary for a senior faculty member working on the project is $180,000.

Transnational complications, indeed.

Entangling institutional infrastructures from different countries cannot help but generate some inter-cultural and institutional conflict: indeed this is sometimes the rationale for supporting the concept of overseas campuses. But the Ross articles, the Cal Poly-Saudi debate, and Amy Newhall’s entry in GlobalHigherEd last autumn (‘Liberal education venturing abroad?: American universities in the Middle East‘), are but a few reminders that much more thinking is required about the underlying forces facilitating the development of such ventures, the nature of the deliberative processes on campuses that are considering such ventures (which has been, to date, driven in a top down fashion, for good and for bad, by what I would deem administrative entrepreneurs), and the nature of the memorandum of understandings (MoUs) and legal agreements that lock in such linkage schemes (usually for a five year period, in the first instance).

The evidence, to date, suggests that there is incredible diversity in drafting overseas campus and linkage arrangements, ranging from the unsophisticated and opaque to the sophisticated and transparent. It is perhaps time for some systematic rules and guidelines to be developed by international organizations like UNESCO and the OECD (extending the UNESCO/OECD guidelines on “Quality provision in cross-border higher education”). It is also worth pondering why publicly supported institutions are not active, and indeed sometimes hostile to, the public release of relevant MoUs and legal agreements. Public release clauses could, after all, even be built into the MoUs and agreements in the first place; a “non-negotiable” item in the terms of participants at a recent American Council of Education Leadership Network on International Education meeting. One of many unfinished debates about this emerging global higher ed phenomenon…

Kris Olds

Engaging globally through joint and double degree programmes: a view from Singapore

Editor’s note: further to Kavita Pandit’s entry yesterday (‘Engaging globally through dual degree programs: SUNY in Turkey‘), Lily Kong‘s entry here also focuses on joint and double degree programmes, at the undergraduate level, though from the perspective of a senior administrator and scholar of cultural change who is based in Singapore. Lily Kong is Vice-President (University and Global Relations) for the National University of Singapore (NUS), and also Director of the Asia Research Institute. One of her previous entries in GlobalHigherEd focused on international consortia of universities. Both entries reflect NUS’ role as a relatively global university, partly spurred on by the nature of higher education policy in this Southeast Asian city-state, and partly by the forces underlying Singapore’s development process.

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International agendas for many universities today almost invariably include a student exchange/study abroad component. In fact, for some, setting and reaching a self-imposed target to send a certain proportion of each cohort on such programmes can become a consuming affair, never mind the quality of the actual experience.

Another common expression of the international ambitions of many universities is the facilitation of education tourism (perhaps described in more exalted ways). In many cases, students travel together under the care of a lecturer, learn about another country, but stay in their “environmental bubble”, remaining part of the large group from their home university and within a safe comfort zone.

There are other expressions yet of global ambitions among universities and while they are fraught with a range of difficulties, there are of course also many positive ways in which such programmes have been implemented, and from which students learn much.

In Singapore, not only do universities roll out programmes such as these, so too are secondary schools and junior colleges actively involved in promoting and facilitating such overseas experiences. In a country where overseas private travel for leisure is common and has been on the rise (any flight is a flight out of the country), the question that needs to be asked is how local HEIs can provide for stimulating and meaningful international experiences when many young people have literally been there and done that.

nuscampus.jpgIn the last three to four years, the National University of Singapore has negotiated joint and double degrees with overseas partners for undergraduate courses of study (preceding these by quite some years were graduate level joint/double degrees). They offer that qualitatively (and quantitatively) different experience for students, so they present a value proposition to many who had in their earlier years of education already gone on a short exchange to Australia or visited Shakespeare-land in a school group.

What a joint degree means and how it is different from a double/dual degree is not as common knowledge as I had previously assumed. When approaching other universities with the concept and proposal to explore possibilities, I have been surprised by how some with very explicit global/international rhetoric have never thought about these options.

The versions I am familiar with are as follows. A joint degree student spends the same amount of time obtaining the degree as a single degree student, and about half the period of candidature is spent in a partner institution. He/she obtains a single degree with two university imprimaturs upon graduation. A double/dual degree student usually spends more time than required for a single degree but less time required for two separate degrees and obtains two degrees upon graduation. The time saved comes from “double-counting” some courses. Again, about half the total period of candidature is spent in the partner institution.

These joint and double degree programmes have been attractive for a variety of reasons for students at NUS. For those desirous of an overseas education/degree but for whom that is not possible (e.g. financial constraints, familial conditions), the shortened period overseas becomes a nice middle-ground. For those tentative but curious about a full overseas education, this too provides a comfortable combination. Others have recognized the advantages of two sets of educational, social and cultural experiences, and developing two sets of friendships and networks. And of course, the value of two degrees in less time or one degree from two prestigious institutions is a draw in itself. Indeed, this has become a significant part of NUS’ strategy to attract some of the brightest students in Singapore to study at NUS, and early indications are that it is working.

NUS now has joint undergraduate degrees with Australia National University (in physics, chemistry, mathematics, economics/actuarial studies, history, philosophy, English literature), the University of Melbourne (civil engineering), and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (in geography, political science, history, English literature, and economics).

The challenges of setting up these arrangements are not trivial. Often, the transaction costs are very high. Setting up the joint undergraduate degrees named above, for example, entailed many rounds of careful discussions and many levels of approvals at both institutions. The discussions and agreements have to penetrate to individual faculty in departments, whose curriculum and perhaps even pedagogies have to be modified. This is one of the first challenges, when university or college administrators wish for a variety of reasons to embark on these arrangements but need to have colleagues at the coalface who will be persuaded by their merits enough to work on them.

Setting up the structures and programmes is one thing. Encouraging and identifying appropriate students to sign up for these programmes is another. For Singapore, this has not been a problem. Students have for the most part been enthusiastic about the experience and opportunities that this affords, as mentioned above. But students in Australia and in the U.S. have seemed to need much more encouragement. The pastoral care dimension of students who move across state, social and cultural boundaries also needs careful attention.

Overall, the opportunities have been welcome by students at NUS, and this has been cited by a small, growing number to be the reason for coming to NUS.

Lily Kong

Overseas campuses (again), though with a focus on challenges in China

The overseas campuses theme is receiving a lot of attention this week. As we noted two days ago, the New York Times is running a series that primarily focuses on American campuses in the Middle East.

Inside Higher Ed has just posted a lengthy story (‘The phantom campus in China‘) regarding the grand ambitions, and practical realities, of establishing relatively deep institutional presences in China. The story is well worth reading, though in conjunction with our coverage of University of Nottingham and University of Liverpool ventures in China, as well as Daniel Bell’s guest contribution from Tsinghua University (‘To link or not to link? On linkages between Western and Chinese universities‘).

Kris Olds

Overseas campuses: American views and photographs

cmumap.jpgThe Sunday New York Times published a general overview (‘Universities rush to set up outposts abroad’) today regarding the phenomenon of overseas campuses. This article (the first of a series this week – see the bottom of this entry for links to all of the articles when they have been published) focuses on US campuses in the Middle East, especially universities that have ‘home’ bases in New York (it is the New York Times after all!), Pittsburgh and Washington DC, though reference is made to developments in other parts of the world. An explicit US-centric view is developed in the article.

The article is particularly worth perusing for the accompanying slideshow of campuses including Carnegie Mellon in Qatar, New York Institute of Technology Abu Dhabi, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar, and George Mason University – Ras Al Khaimah Campus, as well as the teaching rooms of the University of Washington’s certificate programs in Abu Dhabi.

klec.jpgThis story, on top of news last week that Royal Holloway, University of London, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kuala Lumpur Education City (KLEC) to establish the University of London’s first overseas campus by 2011, is a reminder that venturing abroad is an internationalization option more and more universities are deliberating about.

With opportunity comes confusion, this said. Some universities are simply overwhelmed with options, as the University of Washington (in Seattle) outlined in the article:

The demand from overseas is huge. At the University of Washington, the administrator in charge of overseas programs said she received about a proposal a week. “It’s almost like spam,” said the official, Susan Jeffords, whose position as vice provost for global affairs was created just two years ago.

And yet the article implies, as does the American Council on Education’s report Venturing Abroad: Delivering US Degrees Through Overseas Campuses and Programs (2007), that the opportunity/risk/implication calculus is only in the early stages of a sophisticated conceptualisation. Indeed our own research leads us to believe that the calculus is remarkably unsystematic with universities incrementally ad-hocing it through the deliberative process. Little systematic information is available regarding how to plan the planning process, optional models for overseas campuses, legal innovations (e.g., regarding the protection of academic freedom), best and worse cases, and so on.

Some universities have also not recognized the importance of closely relating core principles and objectives to the idea of accepting or rejecting an overture to open an overseas campus. Interestingly, one university that has is the University of Pennsylvania, and their stance on overseas campuses is an unequivocal no. In the New York Times article Amy Gutmann, president of Penn, is quoted as saying “the downside is lower than the upside is high” especially because the:

risk is that we couldn’t deliver the same quality education that we do here, and that it would mean diluting our faculty strength at home.

New York University (NYU), also the focus of some attention in the article, is clear that their network university model simply requires campuses in other countries; an issue we discussed in some detail in our entry on NYU Abu Dhabi.

Interestingly, both NYU and Penn are active in Singapore. NYU has developed one independent arts school (the Tisch School of the Arts Asia), while Penn is present via intellectual engagement (and some associated secondment activities) with key Singapore-based actors shaping the development of a new university (Singapore Management University) . Thus Penn’s clear principle is to deeply internationalize (including by bringing Penn’s intellectual power to the development of new campuses in countries like India and Singapore), but in a manner than strengthens their one and only campus while concurrently reducing financial and brand name risk.

The outcomes that we read about in such articles, and that we see in such photographs, are dependent upon a suitable mesh between the principles guiding universities as they seek to internationalize, and the territorially-specific development objectives of host governments. One of these territorial objectives is capacity building, an issue we will explore in some detail over the next several months. Now back to those Sunday papers…

Kris Olds

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11 February Update:

Charles Thorpe, dean of Carnegie Mellon in Qatar responded to a selection of 57 questions submitted by New York Times readers at this site. His responses were posted here.

The second article in the series (‘In Oil-Rich Mideast, Shades of the Ivy League’) was published in the New York Times. This article focuses on the student experience in overseas campuses in the Middle East. Readers of the article have been submitting questions here.

The globally engaged institution: insights via the American Council on Education

Editor’s note: GlobalHigherEd has been inviting select universities (e.g., the University of Warwick), associations, and agencies to profile how they are attempting to understand, navigate through, and therefore help construct, the emerging global higher education landscape. We have also focused our own eyes on institutional strategy from time to time (e.g., see Lily Kong’s very popular entry on international consortia). Today’s guest entry has been kindly developed by Jill Wisniewski, Program Associate, Center for International Initiatives, American Council on Education (ACE). The entry profiles ACE’s Leadership Network on International Education, an annual forum for chief academic officers and presidents to discuss issues and trends in international higher education. The Leadership Network is hosted by the Center for International Initiatives at ACE and is open to all ACE members.
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aceii.jpgHow do institutional leaders navigate the increasingly complex world of global partnerships, joint degrees, and branch campuses? During the 2007 annual meeting of the Leadership Network on International Education, more than 130 institution presidents and provosts discussed the intricacies of partnering with institutions and organizations around the globe. The expanding international opportunities open to institutions require leaders to make sound decisions about how to have a global presence, whether or not to partner, and with whom; how to develop a strategy to pursue global connectivity; and how to ensure quality and assess potential benefits and risks. The meeting focused on the strategic decisions institutional leaders must make in developing a strategy for global engagement.

In a session on U.S. campuses and degree programs delivered abroad, panelists described their experiences and lessons learned in providing a U.S. education for students in their home countries. The remarks of John A. Elliott, dean of the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, The City University of New York; Jim Baker, vice president for research and economic development, Missouri State University; and Mark Kamlet, provost, Carnegie Mellon University (PA), illustrated that while some issues are country-specific, there are common strategic concerns. Among them are questions of alignment with mission, financial and reputation risk, and the cultural and legal intricacies of working in another country.

There was consensus among panelists that presidents and provosts must seriously consider the institution’s strategic mission before making a commitment to engage in the development of a branch campus or degree program abroad. The question, “why are we engaging in this partnership?” should be among the first asked by institutional leaders. Institutional leaders may answer the “why” question differently, but motivations that were repeated include the education of globally competent students, benefits to the sending institution and the host country, and enhancing mobility of students, faculty, and staff. Panelists stressed that branch campus agreements should not be entered into for perceived financial or reputational benefit, but rather that an institution should have a strategic mission grounded in the value added to students and society.

The speakers also described the challenges of providing degree programs abroad. The legal issues alone can create major hurdles. Balancing foreign government regulations with the demands of US laws can be challenging in unforeseen ways. Difficult questions include: What are the tax implications of working in a foreign country? Is there a financial framework in place to process tuition and other payments on the home campus? What are the capacities of US institutions to implement US regulations (such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements) in a foreign country? These legal complexities arise within the context of foreign cultural practices, and seemingly simple decisions and transactions can produce unanticipated consequences. The panelists suggested that institutional leaders need to decide which policies and practices are non-negotiable, and be able to think creatively to arrive at mutually acceptable solutions.

Other issues that were discussed include quality assurance concerns, faculty participation, and board and administration support. All of the panelists agreed that in order to maintain quality control over programs, the institution must retain control over the curriculum. Indeed, many partnership arrangements have the actual curriculum spelled out and included in the agreements or Memorandum of Understandings (MOU’s) with partner organizations. Panelists also shared best practices in increasing faculty involvement. Some suggestions included:

  • Have faculty spend time on the home campus to maintain ties between the home and branch campus
  • Have research facilities abroad and incentives to conduct research there
  • Make the location and amenities appealing for faculty: provide “high end” living and cultural experiences
  • Build international experience into promotion and tenure guidelines.

One panelist described the extensive discussions with the board surrounding the decision to authorize the establishment of a branch campus. The board was quite skeptical and asked for detailed information and plans. Among the suggestions for garnering and maintaining board support were:

  • Help the board feel invested in the campus by describing in detail the potential benefits for students, faculty and staff
  • If possible, invite Board members to do a site visit to the branch campus location.

This day-long meeting only scratched the surface in describing the benefits, problems, pitfalls, and lessons learned in international engagement. The continuation of annual forums such as the Leadership Network can help advance the field in supplying information and best practices to institutional leaders looking to expand global partnerships.

Jill Wisniewski, Program Associate, Center for International Initiatives, American Council on Education. For more information on the Leadership Network, please contact <jill_wisniewski@ace.nche.edu>.

Foreign engagements/Indian Government honours Nehru in Cambridge

In 2008 GlobalHigherEd will be developing a series of entries regarding the establishment of overseas campuses, centres, and other relatively deep forms of presence in foreign territories, with an eye to the emerging models that are coming into being, and the implications they generate for global public affairs. These models include:

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This focus links back to our interest in the construction of new forms of knowledge/spaces in a globalizing era; many of which perforate the ‘national’ in fascinating ways. Some of these entries will be lengthy and analytical, and some will be short and descriptive. By the end of 2008 we hope that the aggregate effect is the creation of a global mapping of this phenomenon; one that is raising a whole series of opportunities and challenges for host governments, universities, disciplines/fields, students, quality assurance systems, and so on.

jbslogo.jpgIt is thus noteworthy that the Judge Business School at Cambridge University, under the leadership of Arnoud De Meyer (whom I briefly spoke about in the NYU Abu Dhabi entry) announced, on 3 January, that the Indian Government has donated £3.2 million “to celebrate the centenary of Pandit Nehru’s arrival at Trinity College Cambridge, where he studied for a degree in Natural Sciences”. These monies will fund an endowed professorship who will help lead the Cambridge Centre for Indian Business, which has partially been funded by the BP Group. As Dr. Ashok Jhawar, Country Head, BP India, put it:

BP was founded right around the time that Jawaharlal Nehru was studying in Cambridge. What could be more appropriate, one hundred years on, than for BP to support an important new subject of scholarship, the Indian economic and business models, at one of the world’s leading centres of learning. We are pleased to be supporting this great initiative in partnership with the Indian Government, and we look forward to formally launching the new Centre later this year.

The Judge School of Business notes that:

The Cambridge Centre for Indian Business will support the work of the Jawaharlal Nehru Professorship of Indian Business & Enterprise and would initially focus on contemporary research themes relating to today’s business environment. Themes to be covered in the first three years include technology innovation, emerging global economies, the relationship between economic development and knowledge economy and entrepreneurship. BP’s support of the Centre includes funding for the ‘BP India PhD Scholarship’ for an outstanding graduate student from India to work under the supervision of the newly- appointed Nehru Professor on a research topic agreed with the donor, as well as support for operational costs.

This model – a foreign government-funded professorship – is the most targeted of options for establishing a presence of sorts in a foreign territory, making a symbolic statement, and building capacity. From the funder’s perspective the strategy here involves using and honouring an iconic national figure to enhance particular forms of knowledge about India, but via a globally recognized centre of educational excellence in a foreign territory; a context relatively free of the constraints such a professorship (and centre) would face in the challenging circumstances associated with the Indian higher education system. Apart from the leveraging on Cambridge/Judge element, this is also a relatively simple model to create and regulate. It also effectively denationalizes and diversifies higher education funding streams, providing the Judge Business School (and Cambridge) with greater autonomy from the UK state.

Small scale? Yes and no. High impact? We’ll have to see who they hire, and what they do…

Kris Olds

The University of Nottingham’s Vice-Chancellor responds to Agora report

Editor’s note: this official response to the Agora report we briefly profiled on 7 December was submitted to GlobalHigherEd today by Professor Sir Colin Campbell, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Nottingham.

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Higher education news outlets reporting the conclusions of the think tank ‘Agora have mostly given an account of a handful of parochial views. The conclusions attributed to those quoted are at odds with many distinguished colleagues working in science and engineering across British universities, and also with the United Kingdom’s Research Councils.

unningbo.jpgProfessor Ian Gow, who received an OBE in recognition of his considerable efforts to help us establish a world first – the University of Nottingham Ningbo China (pictured to the left) – could have been reported out of context, but his views as published were unwarrantedly defensive. The manner in which they were presented does little justice to his previous achievement as Foundation Provost at our award-winning and successful China campus.

icuk.jpgProfessor Gow, a social scientist, and the other contributors to the Agora think tank paper which you reported unchallenged, can be reassured that individual UK research councils, as well as RCUK, and the European Union, are fostering collaborative research with China across medicine, science and engineering. They regard it as an important development in their thinking and their funding programmes. Recently a consortium of British universities including Nottingham, King’s College London and Southampton, and more than twenty universities in China, agreed to pool their expertise in order to bring joint innovation to the worldwide marketplace. Innovation China-UK is now supporting academic and business partners in funding proof-of-concept research, and in commercialising intellectual property.

The University of Nottingham has, for several years, been undertaking tripartite plant genetics work with two distinguished Chinese institutions, Fudan University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. Amongst our shared goals are combining the experience of all three universities in plant genetics. Happily, the venture is also promoting joint applications for international funding, and it is providing exciting training and exchange opportunities for research students and staff in both nations. This is just one example from a vast range across the sciences. It is extremely difficult to decipher in it, and countless research projects like it, any kind of ‘threat’ to British scholarship or to the UK economy, and fortunately the UK Research Councils and the British government agree.

Globalisation means that our country cannot “stay at home”. Nor, to quote Professor Michael Shattock (with perhaps the most depressing view to have emerged from Agora’s exercise) can UK universities “stick to their knitting”. Professor Gow, claimed your article, ‘called British institutions “incredibly naïve” for handing over their research in key disciplines to get a foothold in China.’ In fact, he was cautioning ’emerging’ joint ventures, and not those already well established, but little matter. Leading international universities are very carefully managing the risks involved in any overseas venture, in order to expand their sphere of influence. Research, like student exchanges with China, has to be two-way in order to be sustainable. The “win-win” situation we are being urged in undeservedly panicked tones to “engineer” is in fact already underway, on a fair and reciprocal basis, and it is flourishing. We have huge confidence that the world will be better for it.

Professor Sir Colin Campbell is Vice-Chancellor of The University of Nottingham

To link or not to link? On linkages between Western and Chinese universities

danielbell.jpgEditor’s note: this guest entry has been kindly prepared by Daniel A. Bell, Professor of Philosophy, Tsinghua University, Beijing, PRC. Daniel (pictured to the left) is the author or editor of numerous books including Communitarianism and Its Critics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993), East Meets West (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), Beyond Liberal Democracy: Political Thinking for an East Asian Context (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006), Confucian Political Ethics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006) and Ethics in Action (New York: Cambridge University Press; United Nations University Press, 2006). He has worked in the PRC, Hong Kong SAR, Singapore, and the USA.

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Perhaps the most dramatic change in the Chinese higher education system has been the huge increase of students, without a comparable increase in government funding. Hence, many universities now find themselves in the red. And students often find it harder to get good jobs after they graduate, even those from top universities like Beijing University. If this trend continues, at some point it will become less “rational” (from an economic point of view) to get a university degree. I’ve already heard anecdotal evidence of secondary school students being encouraged (by parents and friends) to find jobs rather than sit through the grueling national examinations for university spots. But I’ve been asked to talk about changes related to “the global” so let me focus on the issue of linkages with Western universities. What I say stems more from my experience teaching at Tsinghua University (I’m hired on local terms to teach political philosophy) rather than from systematic research on the topic.

One clear trend is the effort by Western universities to forge linkages, formal and otherwise, with Chinese universities, especially prestigious universities in Beijing and Shanghai. An administrator friend at Tsinghua tells me he is flooded with such requests and can accommodate only a small percentage of them. The situation at Beijing University is similar and I’ve heard that requests from not-so-famous Western universities are arrogantly rebuffed. Western universities that have yet to enter the market should therefore consider linkages with Chinese universities outside the main cities. The differences in academic quality may not be all that great and there may be higher levels of enthusiasm and cooperation among such universities.

I’ve also heard one important complaint from the Chinese side. When universities such as Stanford and Harvard seek to implement “learning in China” programs, they often insist on bringing in their own professors in the name of “quality control”. One wonders if it’s really worth the effort (and expense) to bring students over to China so that they will be taught by the same professors they’d have at home. And sometimes, what goes in the “quality control” may in fact stem from different understandings of “responsible teaching”. In a Western university, the teacher is supposed to prepare a detailed syllabus, with the topics and readings for each lecture decided at the beginning of term. Few Chinese professors prepare such syllabi and thus they would fail the test of Western-style “quality control”. But the main reason for “vague” Chinese syllabi is that lectures – especially at the graduate level — tend to be more informal, with the ebb and flow of discussion influencing the following week’s topics. Rather than insist on conformity to Western-style norms, it seems to me that Western universities should encourage their students to be exposed to different learning experiences.

Let me say something about academic freedom in Chinese universities, which has been source of worry for Western universities that seek linkages in the humanities and the social sciences. In my experience – and I teach in a sensitive area — classroom discussion has been unexpectedly free and uninhibited. I’ve rarely experienced the fear that seems to grip students in Singapore when the discussion veers towards critical evaluation of the government leaders and policies (I taught in Singapore in the early 1990s and things may have improved since then). Of course, there are some constraints in China – it would not be wise to engage in prolonged and emotional discussion of the events of June 4th, 1989 – but even these constraints tend to disappear during the course of the term, as trust develops between teacher and students. I do not mean to imply that academic freedom should be limited to the classroom – those of us working in China often experience the severe and seemingly arbitrary constraints on publication of our research. But Western universities that seek alternative learning experiences for their students need not worry too much about such constraints.

Daniel A. Bell

US for-profit companies have eyes on the UK higher education market

It seems that the UK Privy Council ruling on BPP Professional Education we reported on giving BPP degree awarding capabilities in the UK has given an encouraging signal to other US companies keen to invest in the UK higher education sector.

Bridgepoint Education, whose self-declared mission is to acquire, develop and operate global organizations, is a for-profit company now poised to follow BPP’s example and venture into the UK higher education market in the next 18-24 months.

The UK is viewed as offering new possibilities for profit, and it is clear that the overall trend of an increase in profits for these companies is partly due to their globalising strategies. The introduction of £3,000 top up fees in the UK makes the investment more viable, whilst a sympathetic hearing from the Privy Council opened the regulatory gates to more eager investors willing to try their luck. Added to this, the UK continues to be an attractive destination for foreign fee-paying students, while the USA’s position in the global higher education market is one of a slight decline.

Bridgewater plans to concentrate on post-graduate business related degrees – a lucrative area in the higher education field and popular amongst foreign fee-paying students.  However,  it also has designs on entering the undergraduate market in the UK.

Bridgewater–whose biggest shareholder is the private equity company Warburg Pincus–is best known in the US for its purchase of the Franciscan University of the Prairies, a Roman Catholic institution in Iowa now known as Ashford University.

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According to the Chronicle of Higher Education,

Bridgewater will join Kaplan Higher Education International, a division of Kaplan Inc. in Britain in applying for degree awarding powers next year.

These developments may well set in train a series of new ventures that will radically alter the higher education scene in the UK.

Susan Robertson

Mexican university now turns to the US for higher education students

Much of the mapping and analysis of transnational student mobility in higher education tends to focus on ‘south’ to the ‘north’ movements. However, recently GlobalHigherEd has been profiling some very interesting south-south movements, for instance with a highly entrepreneurial Malaysian university now establishing itself in Botswana.Today the Chronicle of Higher Education reported on another interesting reversal – this time with a large Mexican university now seeking students in the US and Canada:

Spotting a ripe market and a growing Hispanic population, the National Autonomous University of Mexico is steadily strengthening its foothold in the United States and Canada-one of the first inroads northward by a Latin American university.

While the National Autonomous University of Mexico (National Autonomous University of Mexico) has always had some presence in the US however this has tended to be directed to cultural activities.unam2.jpg

Now, however UNAM sees that the Hispanic population in the USA might benefit those Mexicans and Latinas who have left their home countries and want to continue studying or complete a degree – in the USA or in Canada.

The Chronicle reports that the biggest campus is in San Antonio – in a two story building donated by the Texas city government. In exchange, UNAM professors teach the municipal employees Spanish and help with translation services. Other programs are run in Chicago and Quebec.

These developments suggest the benefits might work in several directions; for students of Hispanic decent, for local governments, and also for those wanting to learn Spanish. They also bring to light a range of new players into the field of transnational education, though the motivations of the students and the outcomes of various initiatives may well be quite divergent.

However they also highlight the fact that a comparative advantage in transnational higher education may not always be English, or cost of living, or indeed student fees (as we have previously reported), but the possibilities of exploiting ethnic agglomeration in a transnational knowledge space.

Susan Robertson

Malaysian university campuses in London and Botswana (and Mel G. too)

The vast majority of foreign campuses tend to be created by Western (primarily US, UK, & Australian) universities in countries like Malaysia (e.g., University of Nottingham), the United Arab Emirates (e.g., NYU Aub Dhabi), China (e.g., University of Nottingham, again), South Africa, and so on. As Line Verbik of the OBHE notes in an informative 2006 report titled The International Branch Campus – Models and Trends:

The majority of branch campus provision is from North to South or in other words, from developed to developing countries, a trend, which is also found in other types of transnational provision. US institutions clearly dominate, accounting for more than 50% of branch campuses abroad, followed by Australia (accounting for approximately 12% of developments), and the UK and Ireland (5% each). A range of other countries, including Canada, the Netherlands, Pakistan and India, have one or two institutions operating campuses abroad. South to South activity is rare, some few examples being the Indian and Pakistani institutions operating in Dubai’s Knowledge Village.

Post-colonial relations are often an underlying factor for they facilitate linkages between former colonial powers and their colonial subjects. This is not surprising in some ways, though the relationship between former colonial powers and colonial subjects is a complicated one. Singapore, for example, has been shifting its geographic imagination away from the UK and towards the USA for the last decade, driven as it is by a perception that the US has better quality universities, and also the growing number of now well-placed politicians and government officials who have US vs. UK degrees.

Post-colonial dynamics aside, ideological and regulatory shifts also enable foreign universities to open up campuses in territories previously closed off to “commercial presence” (using GATS parlance). While there are huge variations in the nature of how ideological and regulatory transformations unfold (peruse UNCTAD’s annual World Investment Report to acquire a sense of variation by country, and the general liberalization shift), it is clear that the majority of countries are now more open to the presence of foreign universities within their borders. This said the mode of entry that they choose to use, or are forced to use (via regulations), is also very diverse.

In tracking the phenomena foreign/branch/overseas campuses, it is always valuable (in an analytical sense) to hear of unexpected developments that cause one to pause. One such unexpected outcome is the March 2007 opening of a Malaysian university campus in London, one of the world’s most expensive cities. Yesterday’s Guardian has an interesting profile of the key architect (Dr. Lim Kok Wing) of this university (Limkokwing University of Creative Technology (LUCT). LUCT is a private for profit university with a flair for out of the norm (for universities) PR: witness the excitement spurred on by the presence of Mel Gibson, for example, when he was brought to the Malaysian campus of LUCT.

The Guardian profile does a good job of explaining some of the rationale for the campuses, but also some of Lim’s personal style which is an intangible but important part of the development process, and seems to be even reflective in the titles of the degrees LUCT offers.

Coverage of Lim Kok Wing’ s overseas venture in Botswana (which opened up in March 2007 too) is also worth following for it sheds light on how higher education entrepreneurs are exploiting a country’s brand name (Malaysia in this case), as well as the relatively difficult higher education context many African countries are experiencing. It is also in line the Malaysian government’s strategy – of expanding its share of the global higher education market (see our earlier report).

The Botswana campus took Lim only five months to establish, and over a thousand students “swarmed” its campus during opening day. We’ve heard that there are just over a 1,000 students, with some 5,500 students being planned for in 2008 at the Botswana campus. Entrepreneurs like Lim are effectively mining fractured seams in the global higher education landscape, for they operate at a level than enables the to identify openings for the creation of institutions (and student tuition income stream). Lim puts it this way:

“However, as a developing country, Malaysia is better able to understand the needs of other developing nations. It is therefore in a better position to deliver British education to the developing world.”

So a Malaysian university, providing a Malaysian education in London, and a British education in Botswana (to students from over 100 countries)…the global higher ed landscape is indeed changing…

Kris Olds & Susan Robertson

Liberal education venturing abroad?: American universities in the Middle East

Note: GlobalHigherEd will post brief entries by guest contributors from time to time. This one is by Amy W. Newhall (newhall@u.arizona.edu) of the University of Arizona.

In late September yet another American university announced an agreement to set up educational and research programs in the Gulf. The ambitious agreement between Michigan State University and the Dubai governmental entity TECOM Investments will “mesh MSU’s academic strengths with regional needs. MSU in Dubai is planning initially to offer not-for profit bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.” The new programs will be located in Dubai International Academic City, a free trade zone which is in keeping with TECOM’s stated goal to “Establish, own and promote various ventures in affiliated free trade zones, including educational institutions and research centers; investment; telecommunication and telecommunication equipment and accessories; film festival; media and broadcasting.”

Just which programs will mesh with what regional needs have not yet been revealed but agreements in other Gulf states such as the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait suggest they all will be in technical fields: medicine, foreign service, business administration, computer science, and engineering.

While American technical education is widely admired, its tradition of liberal education is less highly regarded according to a recent (June 2007) report titled Studying the American Way: An Assessment of American-Style Higher Education in Arab Countries by Shafeeq Ghabra and Margreet Arnold. Link here or here for a PDF copy of the study. Elements of liberal education curricula are often deemed to be at odds with local religious, political and cultural traditions. In some countries, teaching materials have been censored or bowdlerized and teaching methods seriously circumscribed. The summary firing of an instructor who discussed the Danish cartoon controversy and showed some of the cartoons in class at Abu Dhabi’s Zayed University in March 2006 illustrates the gulf between local and American understandings of protected speech, legitimate classroom activities and academic freedom. No procedural safeguards or processes were in place to protect the teacher’s rights nor were any processes by which she could contest the allegations and actions taken against her, according to statements on the matter. Zayed is not a branch US campus; so far it is only a candidate for accreditation in the US. It is not clear whether accrediting agencies take into account the existence or the absence of standard professional policies, regulations and grievance procedures in their accreditation assessments.

MSU’s deal mirrors that of more narrowly focused single program branch campuses run in Qatar by five different American universities, Carnegie-Mellon, Georgetown, Virginia Commonwealth, Weill Medical College of Cornell and Texas A&M. [See today’s GlobalHigherEd entry on Qatar] They are operated by their home campuses with the same admissions standards and curriculum. Each home campus has “full academic authority and quality control over courses and programs.” Virginia Commonwealth University runs the School of the Arts in Qatar, one of the oldest of the branch institutions and their students receive a VCU degree . VCU maintains complete control over hiring and retention. However, all instructors require a visa to work in Qatar and that granting power remains in the hands of the state. Visas can be revoked at any time.

New York University (NYU) has been exploring the possibility of developing a mini-university in Abu Dhabi complete with programs in humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Administrators envision a full undergraduate program and eventually some graduate ones. The new Abu Dhabi school would serve students from all over the region in addition to NYU study abroad students. Faculty from New York would supplement permanent faculty based in country. The proposal has generated considerable and sometimes contentious discussion on the NYU campus. Serious questions have been raised concerning “academic freedom, equal access and opportunities for women and Jews and human rights issues.” NYU prides itself on having one of the largest (if not the largest) study abroad program in the world. Just how this latest proposal fits in with its own educational program and overall objectives is not clear, nor is it clear how the proposed fields of study will appeal to the different sets of students.

Amy Newhall