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Venturing Abroad: Delivering U.S. Degrees through Overseas Branch Campuses and Programs (Review)

Tomorrow's Academy

Message Number: 
877

Not surprisingly, the authors identify Asia as the primary destination for cross-border education and, in particular, the countries of China, Singapore, and India. In each case, the authors identify the types of cross-border programs currently in place, provide examples of institutions involved, and describe the current status or opportunity for establishing a cross-border educational program there.

Folks:

The posting below is a review by Philip G. Stack of the book, Venturing Abroad: Delivering U.S. Degrees through Overseas Branch Campuses and Programs, by Madeleine F. Green, Peter D. Eckel, Lourdes Calderon, and Dao T. Luu. The review originally appeared in Planning for Higher Education. April - June, 2008. Planning for Higher Education. 36(3): 81-82. Copyright © 1998-2008 by Society for College and University Planning (www.scup.org). Reprinted with permission. Planning for Higher Education book reviews appear at: (www.scup.org/phe).

Rick Reis

reis@stanford.edu

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Venturing Abroad: Delivering U.S. Degrees through Overseas Branch Campuses and Programs

reviewed by Philip G. Stack

 

Most individuals would likely agree that higher education is now a global enterprise. That is not surprising given the tremendous attention paid to the broad issues of globalization; the interconnectedness of global economies; the continuing growth in international trade; the mass movement of people, production, and services around the world; and the profound impact of technology on how we interact, identify issues, communicate, and work collectively in developing solutions to an array of challenges. Books such as The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman (2005) highlight the changing global landscape and the vastly enhanced opportunities for global interaction and collaboration. Given this environment, many higher education institutions have identified internationalization as a major strategic thrust, with strategies ranging from increasing international recruitment of students to entering into memoranda of understanding with international institutions for the exchange of faculty, participating in collaborative international research projects, or establishing a branch campus in another country.

As a result of the growing interest in internationalization across higher education in the United States, the American Council on Higher Education Center for International Initiatives is seeking to provide the higher education community with timely and useful information on the ways in which colleges and universities adapt to an increasingly globalized world. Venturing Abroad: Delivering U.S. Degrees through Overseas Branch Campuses and Programs addresses one aspect of the globalization of higher education-the export of U.S. programs and degrees to other countries for non-U.S. students.

Madeleine Green, Peter Eckel, Lourdes Calderon, and Dao Luu have broad-based experience in international education. Green, the lead author, has published widely on higher education, focusing on program and policy studies related to the internationalization of U.S. higher education and international education public policy. The authors identify the increasing mobility of colleges and universities in establishing campuses and offering certificate and degree programs to students from other countries who never step foot inside the United States. Although this is an area of growth, the authors raise a number of important questions for consideration: What do we know about this type of activity by U.S. colleges and universities? Why are institutions pursuing such strategies? What are the different approaches to offering degree programs abroad? What are some of the central issues and challenges that institutional leaders face in pursing this strategy? Where are the hot spots for cross-border activity?

Given the breadth of this topic, the authors choose to focus only on the delivery of degrees through overseas branch campuses and programs from the perspective of the programs and providers. The authors clearly state that this working paper is not meant to be an exhaustive review, but rather an illustrative perspective of the programs and providers associated with branch campuses and programs. The authors address the basic issues associated with cross-border education and provide a snapshot of the current situation. They detail which institutions are abroad, what countries they are in, and what programs they offer. Importantly, the authors sketch a decision-making framework for college and university administrators and board leaders who wish to pursue this form of internationalization.

The authors note the broad range of definitions used in describing cross-border activities. For the purposes of their analysis, they have adopted Jane Knight's definition of cross-border education as "the movement of education across national jurisdictional or geographic borders" (p. 2), thus focusing on the importance of borders in their research. When examining cross-border programs, Knight's definition does so from the perspective of people, programs, providers, and projects/services. As previously noted, the authors choose to address cross-border education only from the viewpoint of programs and providers.

Within this context, the authors examine the opportunities and drivers of cross-border education, recognizing that there is a "push" that includes prestige/competition, advancement of internationalization, quality improvement, and furthering of the service mission. At the same time, there is a "pull" that includes increased demand for higher education, the appeal of receiving a foreign education while staying at home, the increase of governmental policies that attract foreign educators, and the rise of English-language education. The authors then examine the landscape of cross-border education in terms of the types of providers, noting that they may be nonprofit public institutions, for-profit organizations, or other organizations privately or publicly traded. Providers may also choose to deliver their programs independently or through some type of partnership. The final defining characteristic of cross-border education that the authors identify involves the educational components of the program; specifically, whether the program offers non-degree certificates; pre-collegiate preparation; or degrees at the undergraduate, master's, or doctoral level.

Not surprisingly, the authors identify Asia as the primary destination for cross-border education and, in particular, the countries of China, Singapore, and India. In each case, the authors identify the types of cross-border programs currently in place, provide examples of institutions involved, and describe the current status or opportunity for establishing a cross-border educational program there. Specifically, the authors identify the continuing opportunities in China driven largely by rapidly growing demand, describe how opportunities may be ending in Singapore, and discuss how India is the next frontier. It is important to note, however, that many opportunities for cross-border education exist in numerous countries beyond these three.

>From an academic and financial planning perspective, the final section of the working paper is perhaps one of the most important. In this section, the authors identify critical issues that organizational leaders-both administrators and board leaders-must address if they are going to consider pursuing a cross-border educational opportunity. Most importantly, the authors highlight that this is not a trivial decision for an organization to make. Although there are many positive reasons why a college or university may wish to implement a cross-border educational program, an institution must apply a high degree of due diligence before making a final decision. The institution must assess the environment in which it may enter, understand the extensive range of accreditation issues, and be able to answer a series of strategic and operational questions. These questions involve the alignment of such an initiative with the strategic priorities of the institution, the full range of academic issues associated with establishing a cross-border program, and the financial and administrative implications of pursuing such a strategy. Any such decision must not be made lightly and must be made with a comprehensive understanding of the implications and potential risks.

Venturing Abroad: Delivering U.S. Degrees through Overseas Branch Campuses and Programs is a well-written and concise working paper on a very specific area within the extensive range of internationalization initiatives undertaken by colleges and universities. The strength of this working paper is that it remains focused by looking at only one aspect of internationalization-cross-border programs-and only as they relate to the issues associated with programs and providers. In this way the authors have taken a very broad and complex issue and presented it in a concise overview. In addition, the working paper does exactly what the authors said it would: provide an illustrative perspective on a specific topic. Importantly, the working paper does not just address the issue from an academic perspective; rather, it provides the reader with a practical overview of the issues that administrators and board leaders must consider. It is an excellent precursor to the topic and offers institutions that wish to pursue cross-border programs the opportunity to understand the range of issues, prospects, and risks that must be considered and carefully analyzed before making any final decision.

Reference

Friedman, T. L. 2005. The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.