IIE Network - Fall 2013 - (Page 42)
From Multi-national Universities to Education
Hubs to Edu-glomerates?
By Jane Knight
TRANSFORMED higher education in the
past three decades. During this same time
period, it has undergone major changes itself.
This is especially true for crossborder education. During the past 10 years, crossborder
education has grown in scope and scale. There
has been an explosion in student mobility
and, along with this, exponential growth in
the number of branch campuses, double/joint
degree programs, franchise and twinning
arrangements, and MOOCs. These increased
numbers have brought with them benefits
and risks for the sending and receiving countries, as well as students.
A key development in crossborder education has been the increase in multi-national
universities with branch campuses, research
centers and networking/recruitment offices
located in different parts of the world.
Education hubs build on the increase in student mobility, the proliferation of branch
campuses, and the increase in collaborative
research and innovation initiatives. These
initiatives most often involve multi-national
higher education institutions. But what will
follow or emerge from the development of
multi-national universities and education
First a few words about education hubs.
Education hubs come in different shapes
and sizes. They represent a new generation
of crossborder education activities, where
critical mass, co-location and collaboration
among international and local universities,
students, research institutes and private
industry are key. A variety of factors drive
countries to position themselves as an education hub. These factors include the increasing
demand for higher education—especially with
a foreign credential, income generation, soft
power, modernization of the domestic tertiary
education sector, economic competitiveness,
the need for trained work force, and a desire
to move to a knowledge- or service-based
economy. In response to these demands, three
different types of education hubs are being
developed: the student hub, the talent hub,
and the knowledge/innovation hub.
The student hub is the most prevalent.
The student hub focuses on the recruitment
of international students, as well as foreign
education providers. The primary objectives
are to provide increased access for local, expatriate and international students; to modernize
and internationalize domestic higher education institutions; to generate revenue from
international student fees; and to increase profile and competitiveness in the international
student education market.
Education hubs can exist at the country,
zone or city level. Their most important
feature is an intense collaboration and networking among international and local actors
(students, education and training providers,
research centers, private companies). But in
education cities and education free zones such
as the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Qatar
and Korea, co-location is common and often
involves sharing of common facilities such as
libraries, classrooms, recreational facilities
Multi-national universities are individual
institutions that have satellite operations in
other countries, strategic international networks, collaborative degree programs, global
research projects; in short, a broad international engagement program. It is probable
that these will multiply in the future through
strategic alliances with overseas partners and
investors, and a more liberalized higher education market. But, edu-glomerates may emerge
as an alternative to a multi-national university
and be the next phase of an education hub.
An edu-glomerate builds on the satellite
operations of a multi-national university and
extends the concept of economic free education zones or hubs. It can be a private or
government initiative that offers a marketplace of education and training providers and
programs, housed in the same location and
using common facilities. Students can mix
and match individual courses from a variety of local or international providers using a
A key development in
has been the increase
universities with branch
centers and networking/
located in different parts
of the world.
common and recognized credit system. Such
a credit system can be specific to the eduglomerate or based on an existing national
or regional academic credit system. In this
scenario, the key issue is the provider of the
academic qualification, and not the provider
of the actual course work. The edu-glomerate
could validate completed course work (both
face to face in the education city or hub, and
virtual in the case of MOOCs) and could offer
its own credential under a national licensing
scheme, or alternatively, individual providers could establish their own prerequisites for
conferring their degree based on accepting
completed coursework from other providers.
In this scenario, the franchising of the credential is more important than franchising
the academic program itself.
Edu-glomerates may sound like science
fiction and a long way from today’s reality.
A couple of decades ago the same could have
been said about branch campuses, or education hubs, or even MOOCs. Stay tuned.
The only constant these days in crossborder
education is innovation, and the concept of
edu-glomerate may be the next ‘big thing in
Jane Knight is adjunct professor for the
Department of Leadership, Higher and Adult
Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies
in Education at the University of Toronto.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Network - Fall 2013
A Message from Allan E. Goodman
Megatrends: Predicting the Future of International Education
Considering Study Abroad’s Past to Prepare for its Future
The Promise of International Education: Building a More Just and Elevated Civil Society
Global Research and Commercialization: An Under-the-Radar Next Big Thing
Clustering Innovation and Industry: New Opportunities for Europe
Connecting the Dots: Integrating Engagement with International Stakeholders
The Rise of Real-time, Online International Recruitment
Hold on to Your Hats, MOOCs... Here Come the TOQUES!
The Global Youth Engagement Platform: A Peace Corps for the 21st Century
Growing Globally Competent Students to Achieve True Internationalization
Beyond Ourselves: Embracing Our Global Responsibilities
India: Expansion, Equity, Excellence
The Growing World of Collaborative Internationalization: Taking Partnerships to the Next Level
From Multi-national Universities to Education Hubs to Edu-glomerates?
Beyond the Numbers: The Who, How and What of Global Student Mobility
IIE Network - Fall 2013