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


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.

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>.

“New Zealand Educated”: rebranding New Zealand to attract foreign students

nzbrand.jpgIn June 2007 Education New Zealand, the peak industry body for institutions involved in the sale of education to foreign students in New Zealand, launched a new national brand. The New Zealand Educated brand (from which the images in this entry are sourced) is designed to represent and to lead a new phase of development in the sale of educational products to foreign students. The Brand is far more than simply a logo or a coherent message for developing promotional materials. It is based upon and expresses the strategic logic of industry development generated at a national level under the auspices of Education New Zealand over the last three years. Similarly, whilst much of such material is directed at foreign students studying in New Zealand, the new brand represents an imaginary of a far wider and more expansive international education industry. Narrowly, the brand will be used in all offshore promotional and marketing collateral designed to attract students to New Zealand to study. More widely it is the front end of a strategic reassessment of offshore trade shows and other commercial events promoted by Education New Zealand, its domestic public relations, its website, and its relationships with both the New Zealand government and off-shore institutional partners in education programmes.

Three points may be of particular interest to readers of GlobalHigherEd. First, the national branding of international education activities by New Zealand operators is a feature of the New Zealand case. Education New Zealand has in the last decade been transformed into an efficient and professional peak body. Now funded by a marketing levy against all operators, it has taken advantage of the crisis prompted by the slump in sales to Chinese students and subsequent rationalisation and reprofessionalisation of activities among its members to emphasise and accentuate their mutual interests in Brand New Zealand. By working strategically in changing conditions Education New Zealand has sought to marginalise sectoral differences among its members and build a more coherent and integrated national product. It has now branded that product.

nzparis.jpgIn this rebranding, Education New Zealand has placed international education firmly within the family of product/industry specific ‘Brand New Zealand’ so creatively symbolised by the erection of a giant rugby-ball-shaped trade stand in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower for 18 days during the recent Rugby World Cup in France (photo courtesy of Kris Olds). Although somewhat deflated by New Zealand’s early exit from a contest that it was expected to win, the ball, labelled ‘100% Pure New Zealand’, reveals the extent of national branding and the political project of economic nationalism that underpins it. As one of New Zealand’s leading export earners and with powerful messages of youth, tourism and knowledge economy to sell Brand New Zealand international education featured prominently in the imaginary of the ball.

Second, in the design of the new brand, the brand makers have made a careful assessment of the tag-lines, messages and advantages of competitors as well as national strengths. That they chose to do so and the imaging that they discovered in doing so reveals the increasing deployment of brand expertise and logics in many places, and the increasing presence of nation branding. It is suggests a new moment in far more professionalised inter-national competition.

The third interest lies in precisely what new brand values are being attached to Brand New Zealand International Education. The new ‘New Zealand Educated’ brand rebrands international education in New Zealand. It displaces one half of the old logo ‘The New World Class: New Zealand Educated’, as well as the multiple and wordy tag lines of ‘warm and welcoming environments’, ‘world class institutions’, ‘high quality living conditions’, ‘world leading courses and degrees’, ‘association with fresh thinkers’, ‘recreation in paradise’, and ‘British based education system’. These messages, somewhat cumbersome and highly defensive, were targeted at a bulk market largely out of Asia that was undifferentiated and knew little about New Zealand. The target was imagined as much to be parents as students and the place of information gathering and purchase was imagined to be the trade fair.nzbrandterms.jpg

A new set of taglines, again a family of seven, pushes similar messages about a modern, friendly, British-based, out-doors, and green New Zealand, but one that is far more vibrant, globally connected, youthful, and exciting. Crucially it appears to imagine students as savvy, active agents, with subjectivities already located in the new global class elite and seeking an international education that will allow them to perform their lives within this elite – as leisure/experience consumers as well as actual or prospective creative entrepreneurs and knowledge workers. Hence, the seven tag lines are now ‘connected’, ‘inventive’, trusted’, ‘personal’, ‘adventurous’, ‘lively’, and ‘welcoming’. The photographic images are of self-confident, sophisticated students. The expectation now appears to be that the market place is on-line and the purchaser the savvy student. The text behind the tag lines presumes and more subtly restates New Zealand’s global credentials.


The ‘New World Class’ was designed to secure a high volume supply chain in a emerging market for international students where New Zealand was positioned as a high-reputation, third-tier provider. In this market imaginary, the product was largely English language acquisition. New Zealand enjoyed certain key advantages from its safety, environmental reputation, national organisation, and British colonial history. The ‘New Zealand Educated’ brand recognises a much more sophisticated and competitive market place, but again one in which New Zealand enjoys similar advantages. However, these must be repackaged for a new local industry trajectory, a far more sophisticated and intermediated marketplace in which the expertise of branding is now being brought to bear, and new consumers.

Nick Lewis

University viewpoint: the University of Warwick on ‘The challenge of global education and research’

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a series of ‘viewpoints’ from university leaders on issues related to the globalization of higher education, and university strategy vis a vis the changing global higher education landscape. Today’s entry is by Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor, University of Warwick, UK. The University recently launched its Vision 2015 strategy, and Professor Thrift was also interviewed about related issues in the Guardian and the Independent. Finally, please note that this guest entry should be seen in the context of GlobalHigherEd‘s role in co-organizing the October 2007 Global Public University Forum (with Stephen Toope, President, University of British Columbia), and our recent entries on Duke University and international consortia of universities.

The challenge of global education and research


As the readers of this blog are well aware, universities across the world are facing up to the challenge of globalising trends in student demand and research funding by internationalising their operations – both at home and abroad. The challenges are easier to meet ‘at home’ where well-established modes of mobility and diversity can quickly be accelerated. This important work – opening our institutional cultures to worlds beyond the local and national cultures in which universities as institutional presences are suspended – is both a challenging and long-term endeavour. But domestic policies on internationalisation, safely judged within local confines, is the relatively easy bit: ‘internationalisation light’, in other words, or diversity very much on our own terms.

Abroad, the challenges are altogether of a different magnitude and are much more compelling. Research-intensive universities have a crucial role to play in the knowledge economies of the global era – driving innovation, creating sustainable change, educating global citizens, and tackling in collaborative endeavours the problems that bedevil our planet. Yet today very few universities can claim either a global presence or possess the sets of relationships internationally that allow them – their staff and students – to be as effective as we will need universities to be in coming decades. Collaborative higher education provision is delivered in many ways: branch campuses set up by universities in other countries – often in other continents; distance and e-learning; franchising and validation. Some enterprising universities are developing branch campuses overseas or contributing resource to the emergence of conglomerated research centres. Yet others are clubbing together in consortia or networks, gingerly engaging in benchmarking exercises and, it should be admitted, the promise of some genuinely joint provision.

These developments surely herald a new era of international activity – but none of us should underestimate the obstacles that impede trans-national collaboration. The simple truth is that, to date, universities have not become great by collaborating with each other. Quite the opposite, in fact. Yet in order to establish and maintain the greatest contribution to society in future years, universities now need to take a lead from what a small cadre of leading academics have been doing for a few decades now: establishing networks of deep and lasting collaborations across national boundaries, sharing resources and knowledge, to tackle the issues and problems of the new global age.

If institutions are to position themselves to enable more trans-national research we need a model that doesn’t just reproduce a ‘home’ institution on foreign soil.

Before I arrived at Warwick in the summer of 2006, the University had definitively rejected in 2005 the development of an overseas campus (in Singapore) and today we are thinking about ways in which we can collaborate internationally – but on more level terms. There must be equal partnerships, sharing the creation of knowledge rather than imposing a hierarchical framework. We must envisage a model of inter-university co-operation very different from those which by now might be described as ‘traditional’, consisting of the informal networks that leading academics must of necessity maintain to remain relevant and cutting-edge.

We are addressing this at Warwick as part of our recently announced strategy outlining a vision for Warwick between now and 2015. As part of that vision we intend to set up an international quarter on the Warwick campus, consisting of several overseas research universities. Rather than seeking a single international partner for this endeavour our international quarter will offer a number of universities from all the continents of the world a genuine physical base at the University. It will allow Warwick to interact on a day-to-day basis with not just one but several other research and teaching cultures from around the globe. This will enable us to build up genuine joint research, while offering extended opportunities to both staff and students. This is a radical move for a UK university, opening up new possibilities for international collaboration.

And yet, this too, does not go quite far enough – we need a new global knowledge infrastructure to encourage research, development and education. Global education isn’t just about where students go to learn and the methods by which we teach them: it’s about what they learn and how equipped they are at the end of their degrees to enter the marketplace. Academic knowledge is no longer enough. We need to think seriously about developing our students’ employability, equipping them with the skills they need to succeed – and which their countries need to flourish – for the world of work.

For too long, I think, universities have operated only as national servants to national ambitions. Today, however, it is only by ‘going global’ and opening their doors to genuinely deep and lasting collaborations that universities can meet the challenges of globalisation and tackle the big issues such as energy, global security and the global environment. This requires collaboration and partnerships, especially in research. This is simply practical commonsense – this kind of vital research infrastructure cannot be set up in one university or even in one country. Indeed a failure to go global will in itself fail to deliver on national ambitions. A cluster of globally focused universities will be vital to any nation wishing to compete globally.

Research in universities is, and should be, very different in nature from that pursued elsewhere – in corporate organisations, for example. Universities work at the limits of predictability; the unforeseeable discovery, genuine invention rather than mere innovation, the structured risk-taking that is essential to good science and good business. Universities work at the highest level, for the global public good. And this sort of work is essentially co-operative. Often, researchers work more with colleagues in other universities than with those in their own university, often in complex networks stretching across the globe. To protect and invigorate the co-operative intellectual atmosphere we must work towards enhanced and innovative forms of co-operation between universities.

We at Warwick have already launched one initiative to build such co-operative international research networks. This year we created a “Warwick Commission”, led by the Hon. Pierre Pettigrew the former Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs PC,. The Commission brings together a team of researchers from around the world, led by the University of Warwick’s Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation, to examine the global trading system and make recommendations about its future shape and direction. The Commission is taking evidence from a wide range of experts from around the globe including: politicians, pressure groups, practitioners, academics, lawyers and others. The Commission’s final report will be presented in Geneva in December 2007. This will be the first in a series of commissions hosted by Warwick.

The challenge facing us all is to step outside of our national boundaries, and the established intellectual framework of regions and statehood, to see that the common good can best be served when we collaborate as equal partners in global education and research.

Nigel Thrift

Globalizing universities: profiles and strategies (with a Duke example)

Over the course of the next year we will be developing some profiles of select institutions that are playing a key role in globalizing higher education systems via their transnational governance functions and objectives (e.g., the OECD), or via their actions (e.g., individual universities). Our entry about NYU two days ago is part of this focus, as is the 9 October Global Public University forum that we helped to organize. We will also be asking a range of institutions, including universities and consortia, to develop some self-profiles so as to let them speak in their own voices versus us speaking on their behalf. We will ensure that their representations are as analytical as possible, and that there is some diversity in that nature of the types of institutions that will be profiled. Switzerland’s Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is currently developing the first self-profile that we will post. Those of you interested in this theme should also keep track of the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s US-focused Global Campus initiative, as well as select Institute of International Education (IIE) publications.

The issue of how universities globalize is a key one to take account of when examining the construction of global knowledge/spaces. To be sure there are broader structural forces that are at work, forces including economic restructuring, ideological change that is leading to regulatory reform, social transformations, and technological change. But the actions of individual universities, firms, and organizations, mediated by the state, collectively helps to constitute these broader structural forces. And each of these individual actors, guided by people and personalities, has a distinctive take on the globalization process. As we noted, NYU is now fully pursuing the Network model with its new campus in Abu Dhabi. Duke University is another institution with a variety of globalizing activities underway. The President of Duke University (Richard H. Brodhead) gave an illuminating speech (to Duke faculty) about this topic yesterday, and it is worth reading.


Duke is one of the universities that, through its actions (e.g., a joint Duke-National University of Singapore Graduate Medical School; see their new building to the left), is reaching out across global space, and concurrently enabling Singapore to pursue its emerging ‘global schoolhouse’ development framework. One element of the speech is particularly worth highlighting: how a university moves from an assortment of intra-university unit-led global initiatives, to ensuring that these actions help to achieve collective university wide goals, while at the same time the university better (and more efficiently) supports the myriad of activities that are taking place within said units, while ensuring that a globally recognized identity is constructed. Duke is, of course, a global anomaly; a very well-resourced private (non-profit) institution. And the context for the origin of the speech is unclear. However, there are still insights to be acquired by assessing how and why a globally active university like Duke does what it does. We’ll close off with a relatively lengthy quote here from Duke’s President:

Deluged by my examples, you might by now be saying: It’s amazing, I grant you! So isn’t Duke already international enough? I would reply as follows. I take delight in the vision and activity Duke has displayed to date. I also recognize our obligation not just to keep adding to our list of programs, but to work with what we have to give it depth and substance. (In American universities, the list of showy memoranda of understanding with international partners is far longer than the list of substantive relationships that have followed.) I also recognize that Duke’s international development entails tradeoffs with other, equally legitimate university goals, choices that need to be clearly envisioned and intelligently made. But I also believe there is important further work to do to take us to the next level of development as a global university.

One step is very obvious. I would never advocate central control and direction of Duke’s international efforts: the interest, commitment and inventiveness of actual individuals is the absolute precondition for these programs’ success. But we do need more centralized information about our ventures. We have programs exploring possible partnerships in countries (even in cities) where Duke already has an institutional presence that our new Duke ambassadors often know nothing about. Before we go forward, it would help to be able to know what’s already going on.

Second, as our international activities become more numerous and complex, we need to build the infrastructure to support them. Every Duke presence around the globe brings us new contacts, new visibility, new educational opportunity—but also new challenges of financial management, legal arrangement, and liability. It is inefficient at best, and dangerous at worst, for us to expect all our separate units to be able to manage these difficulties on their own. Going forward, they will require a higher level of institutional attention and a stronger system of institutional support.

There are other infrastructural issues as well. The way our local budgets are set up does not make it easy for different schools and departments to team up to envision new international ventures. I also wonder whether our faculty appointments system is structured to greatest advantage for an increasingly globalized intellectual world. At a dinner hosted by the provost this summer, the deans fell into speculation on the idea of an “international professor”—a person who would spend significant time here with the understanding that they would regularly spend time elsewhere, building bridges with a Duke connection. Let me not fail to mention that to continue to attract top student talent, Duke must increase international student financial aid.

Third, and this is my main point, we need our international efforts to be more concerted and strategic. Most of our projects to date have arisen through entrepreneurial activity by separate units. This is the key source of institutional creativity, and it will remain so. But the time comes to ask if these often-vibrant parts could not add up to a more coherent whole, a concerted activity that would advance this whole institution’s mission, with benefits for each part. More than institutional efficiency is at stake. This is a question of how we render the distinctive service this university could provide and how we make Duke known around the world.

Kris Olds

NYU Abu Dhabi: realizing the global university?

Is New York University (NYU) going the furthest with respect to realizing the global university (a term we’ve borrowed from a Worldwide Universities Network conference this coming November)? It might be doing so, and the contrast between NYU’s approach, and what most American universities choose to do, is jarring. Regardless of whether you agree with NYU’s approach or not, it is worth taking note of. Why?

Virtually all American universities proclaim that they are pushing forward on an ‘internationalization’ agenda, though in reality it most often means they welcome foreign students and visiting scholars, are supportive of study abroad schemes, and have a program in place to internationalize curricula. Many American universities sign memorandum of understandings (MOUs) with foreign universities, with large American universities having hundreds of these MOUs ‘on the books’: in reality, though, what do they mean? Many (not all) have limited resources provided to institutionalize MOU-related linkage schemes (e.g., a program officer), fund exchanges (for faculty and students) across national borders, or formalize ties (even in a virtual sense). Some American universities have started joining international consortia (see Lily Kong’s recent entry on consortia) though it is clear that some consortia member universities are still grappling for ways to “make it work”. The reality is most American universities are somewhat complacent, masking their uncertainty or reticence with loud proclamations about internationalization while not really pushing forward, especially in new and innovative ways.

In sharp contrast to the complacency that is often evident in the US, NYU is pushing the boundaries. Last Friday New York University announced that their planned campus in Abu Dhabi would go ahead. The official press release includes these two extracts:

This will be the first comprehensive liberal arts campus established abroad by a major U.S. research university. It is projected that a first class of students will enroll in 2010….

The development of NYU Abu Dhabi is a major step in the evolution of NYU as a “global network university” – a university with a teaching and research presence around the world through sites connected to the main campus in New York and to one another, drawing in scholars and students of talent from around the globe.

This is not an unexpected announcement, as we noted on 2 September. Further context on this development is also available here in a GlobalHigherEd entry by Amy W. Newhall (Executive Director, US Middle Eastern Studies Association), and these entries in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed. We’ve also pre-programmed Google searches for media and blog coverage on the NYU Abu Dhabi topic – whenever you revisit this entry, just click on media, blog, and web (which includes Arabic language sites) and you’ll get near real time search updates (subject to Google’s search engine limitations).

NYU is amongst the most assertive universities in the world with respect to establishing institutional bases in other countries. These bases include:

And now NYU is going further with the Abu Dhabi campus, one that will have comprehensive program and course offerings.

The interesting thing about the NYU approach to realizing the global university is that it is exploring how to stretch its institutional fabric out across global space. One way to conceptualize of this development process is by positioning NYU within the following model to the globalization of higher education:


This model was developed by Arnoud De Meyer, Patrick Harker, and Gabriel Hawawini when they framed the development of the Wharton/INSEAD approach to the globalization of business education, including the development of INSEAD’s Singapore campus (De Meyer guided the campus into existence). There are alternative models, including some discussed in the American Council of Education’s 2007 report Venturing Abroad: Delivering US Degrees Through Overseas Branch Campuses and Programs, but we will stick with this one now. [INSEAD recently announced that it too was establishing a base in Abu Dhabi, with a new centre for executive education and research]

While this blog is not the place to go into the detailed aspects of the De Meyer/Harker/Hawawini model, it is worth noting that the Import model is the classic approach to internationalization in Western universities; the one US universities overwhelmingly rely upon. Most research-intensive universities in the US also exhibit elements of the Export model, with faculty traveling overseas to teach in special courses, or via distance learning technology. The Partnership model is becoming a common mechanism to further the internationalization objective of many foreign universities in Asia and the Middle East, including NYU (prior to the new campus announcement). This model is typically pursued via the exchange of students and faculty, via the joint operation of teaching and research programs, and via the provision of intellectual leadership or consultancy in the establishment or restructuring of research and teaching programs, departments, schools and indeed entire universities.

NYU Abu Dhabi is reflective of the adoption of the Network model. The Network model is the least utilized of all of the globalization of higher education models given the scale of effort and resources required to pursue it, and concerns about failures (e.g., RMIT in Penang (1996-1999) or UNSW Asia in Singapore (2007-2007)) which damage reputation and ‘brand name’. In this model, global networks are created via the merger of geographically separate institutions, or else the establishment of new campuses in other countries. One of the key principles underlying the establishment of a genuine network of campuses is their functional integration with a relatively intense sharing of material and non-material resources, and a relatively flat hierarchy with respect to the quality of the multiple campuses and their respective roles in knowledge production. The Network model requires an undeniably significant commitment of up-front resources (hence NYU’s need for support from the state in Abu Dhabi), and it is the most risky of these four models. Once commitment is made to implement the Network model, though, and the campus begins to operate, and it is effectively managed in a supportive structural context, flows of what might have been viewed as “proprietary knowledge” occur across space between the campuses (according to De Meyer, Harker and Hawawini), and between the NYU and various segments of society in Abu Dhabi, and the broader Middle East. The new campus will also enable NYU to forge ties with students, faculty and other people (including business people) who are reticent about traveling to the US, especially given frequent problems with acquiring US visas, and hassles at US airport immigration desks.

This is an experiment worth watching, whether you agree with the value of the Network model or not, or with the particular way NYU is globalizing itself. In subsequent entries in GlobalHigherEd we’ll also attempt to explore some of the underlying forces that are bringing the network model into being, and some of the implications of this model for capacity building in host territories, as well as the refashioning of core principles (e.g., academic freedom) that have traditionally been conceptualized in a national/territorial sense. We’ll also include some profiles of universities (e.g., Sciences Po and the University of Warwick) that are attempting to blur these models, or even turn them inside out.

Kris Olds

Further Reading:

American Council on Education (2007) Venturing Abroad: Delivering US Degrees Through Overseas Branch Campuses and Programs, Washington DC: American Council on Education.

De Meyer, A., Harker, P., and Hawawini, G. (2004) ‘The globalization of business education, in H. Gatignon and J. Kimberly (eds.) The INSEAD-Wharton Alliance on Globalizing: Strategies for Building Successful Global Businesses, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Olds, K. (2007) ‘Global assemblage: Singapore, Western universities, and the construction of a global education hub’, World Development, 35(6): 959-975.

Forum today on the Global Public University: Canada vs the USA

Today’s event at the University of Wisconsin-Madison featured a relatively open and freewheeling dialogue between Stephen Toope (President, University of British Columbia) and David Ward (President, American Council on Education) about the challenges and opportunities associated with creating “global public universities” on both sides of the Canada-US border. The session can be viewed as a streaming webcast here even though it is now finished. Happy viewing…

Kris Olds