IIE Networker - Spring 2013 - (Page 43)

BRANCH CAMPUSES Building vs. Being: Branch Campuses and Cross Border Higher Education Capacity Development By Kevin Kinser and Jason E. Lane CROSSBORDER HIGHER EDUCATION has emerged as an increasingly common way for institutions and governments to engage in international development.1 Such activity is often intended to build capacity in the region where it occurs. However, some forms of cross-border activity merely exist to provide additional capacity, rather than to help build it. A good example of where this occurs is with the development of international branch campuses. The expansion of international branch campuses over the last decade has been remarkable—from a couple of dozen locations to over 200 today. With more universities and more countries getting involved every year, the branch campus phenomenon does not seem to be slowing. Its growth has been accompanied by much commentary, critical and supportive, though exploring specific strategies for operation has received less attention than discussions of the trend itself. Drawing off research conducted by the Cross Border Education Research Team (CBERT) at the State University of New York at Albany, we highlight challenges with two different ways that branch campuses contribute to the capacity of higher education systems in the countries where they operate. 2 There are many reasons why a college or university decides to open a branch campus in another country. Sometimes the goal is to establish a globally integrated and relevant university by broadcasting its brand into major international cities and student markets around the world. Basic financial arguments for the development of alternative revenue streams are often cited, as well as broader notions of internationalizing the home campus through expanded student and faculty exchanges. Idiosyncratic research opportunities and partnerships can also be significant motivators, as well as language and cultural compatibilities that facilitate university engagement. And there are numerous instances of branches being founded because of longstanding personal connections between a key leader of the home campus and the host country. One important idea that emerges time and again, though, is that branch campuses can provide assistance to improve the domestic educational system, help prepare a more competitive workforce, and spur the growth in economic development and local innovation within the receiving nation. In this narrative, branch campuses serve as capacity building devices that help advance the development agenda of the host country. In practice, though, something else sometimes emerges. Rather than building capacity, some branch campuses instead exist for being capacity. The engagements of branch campuses with the external environment are more limited when the focus is on being capacity, meaning providing additional capabilities within an existing system. The engagements are less limited when the focus is on building capacity, meaning helping to develop the local social, economic, and educational sectors. Foreign outposts that are primarily designed to provide additional capacity may spur change through competition with local providers or unintended academic spillovers. But, like many other private sector initiatives, they meet student demand by providing additional access to higher education. They have, however, relatively little involvement or interest in building the existing local capacity for higher education. The differences between the goals of building capacity and being capacity have consequences for branch campus operations and for the development of the receiving nations. When engaging in international development, capacity is not a simple concept in higher education, and the language of capacity building can mask goal incompatibility that may challenge the sustainability of the branch campus and leave local stakeholders looking for more than what is being provided. Being Capacity When the branch campus reflects a “being capacity” orientation, it adds to the local educational environment primarily through its existence. Campuses that follow this philosophy tend to focus on the teaching aspect of their operations, and some may offer higher level programs or research capabilities. They are successful to the extent offering something better (e.g., institutional prestige), something different (e.g., access to different student populations or different pedagogical models), or something more (e.g., absorbing excess demand).3 They also tend to assume a permanent presence in the local system, with business models and local agreements that require long-term sustainability in operations. Colleges and universities often explore the creation of a foreign branch campus because it advances institutional priorities, with local consideration of the host country quite secondary. Planting a flag in that foreign territory may help to enhance its global visibility, strengthen its market position in a growing student market, or advance the internationalization strategy on the home campus. Pursuing such institutional goals can be considered valid pursuits, but they may inhibit the extent to which the branch campus may actually help with developing local capacity. In fact, being guided by such institutional goals may even lead universities away from operating in countries where their presence may do the most good from a development perspective. Building Capacity Building capacity necessitates significant engagement in the external community. Such engagement comes through working with local businesses or educational institutions. It includes pursuing and supporting research agendas that are relevant to local communities and economies. Branch campuses looking to build capacity work alongside local stakeholders and help to enhance the overall quality of life, effectiveness of social institutions, and economic prosperity. 43 http://www.iie.org/iienetworker

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IIE Networker - Spring 2013

A Message from Allan E. Goodman
2013 IIE Andrew Heiskell Awards for Innovation in International Education
IIENetworker Minister of Education Interview Series
Higher Education and Diff erent Notions of Development
Advancing Development Through International Partnerships
Developing a Gender Studies Program in Georgia
Higher Education and Community Development
The University of Cologne’s Capacity-Building Project in Myanmar
Promoting International Development by Collaborating with Industry
International Development and Higher Education
Harnessing the Power of Women with Disabilities
Community College Global Partnerships Bring Local Benefi ts
Building vs. Being
Higher Education and Development through Cultural Relations
The Institute of International Education’s Work in Iraq and Myanmar
Re-Envisioning Internationalization
Advertisers Index

IIE Networker - Spring 2013