2018 Global Forum

A Global Forum on Student Well-Being 
And Outcomes in Education
Register today!


Our 2017 IBC Report!

International Branch Campuses: Success Factors of Mature IBCs 2017
The OBHE & C-BERT of SUNY, Albany & Pennsylvania State University                 
Headline Findings


Whatever happened to the promise of online learning?
The state of global online higher education

In 2017/18, The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education paid particular attention to online learning and blended learning, conducting a series of country case studies which culminated with this comprehensive report.

The stimulus for OBHE’s case study series was the tension between the scope, diversity and relative maturity of online higher education around the world, and the near absence of studies assessing the significance of online higher education on a global or cross-border level.

Case studies were published on: China (forthcoming), Egypt, England, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sub-Saharan Africa, United Arab Emirates, and the United States of America. Among the countries looked at, five categories emerge:

  • Distance, Not Online. Large distance learning sector with little or no use of online learning beyond some MOOC enthusiasm (e.g. Egypt, India)
  • Marginal. Strong growth in campus enrolment, with some online elements. Most distance learning is blended with in-person study centres (e.g. Saudi Arabia, UAE)
  • Blurred Growth. A poorly defined combination of informal, distance and online learning enrolment continues to out-perform the overall market (e.g. Mexico, Spain)
  • Clear Growth. A clear online distance learning sector continues to out-perform the overall market (e.g. United States)
  • Peaked/Decline. Online enrolment growth has been at the expense of the national distance university. Online enrolment is peaking or is in decline (e.g. England, South Korea)

This report offers lessons from the twelve case studies and stands back to draw some conclusions about the significance and direction of online higher education globally.

To gain access to our report and articles, which are exclusive to OBHE subscribers, become a member. A summary of report findings is available to all.

27 June 2018

What do we know about the outcomes of EMI courses in higher education?

Carolyn Walker, OBHE Associate; Consultant in International HE; Former Academic Director at INTO

According to Dr Denise Abreu e Lima (President of Languages without Borders, Brazil), speaking at the British Council’s recent Going Global 2018 conference in Malaysia, “Language is the structure of internationalisation. If a university wants to internationalise they need to invest in language and a language policy”. For many higher education institutions worldwide, recognition of this fact has helped to drive a growing global trend: the teaching of courses through the medium of English, otherwise known as ‘English Medium Instruction’ (EMI) or alternatively ‘English Taught Programmes’ (ETPs). This relatively recent development has been described as a “galloping phenomenon” which is “pandemic in proportion” and “the single most significant current trend in internationalizing higher education”.

Full article available for members.


21 June 2018

Higher Education in the UAE: Agent of change for a shifting economy?

Dr. Christopher Hill, Research Associate, OBHE; Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, The British University in Dubai
Rachael Merola, Senior Researcher, OBHE

The UAE government is striving to enhance the employability of higher education (HE) graduates, and the workforce in general, in anticipation of a more diversified, competitive and automated economy. Transnational education (TNE)- provided by the numerous foreign universities operating in the emirate- are seen as part of the solution, but must navigate local and cultural norms and balance domestic and international students. Domestic institutions are also launching initiatives to create a better educated workforce. This article explores how HE initiatives are helping the nation transition to a more diversified economy.

Full article available for members.


29 May 2018

Ambition meets measurement: Is Malaysia’s Education Blueprint 2015-2025 delivering its education promises?

Rachael Merola, Sr Researcher, OBHE

Malaysia has established itself as one of the most dynamic and international higher education systems in the world. In part, this is the result of explicit goals set forth and outcomes measured in the country’s higher education (HE) plans. These are laid out in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025, recently modified for better alignment with new national and international requirements. The Blueprint notes it is imperative that Malaysia compare its education system against international benchmarks to keep up with other nations’ development, and tracks outcomes in its annual report. How has the plan hastened Malaysia’s ascent to one of the most internationalized education systems in the world? What do the 2018 modifications entail?

Full article available for members.


21 May 2018

China’s “Double First Class” Project will showcase Chinese higher education in international rankings

Xiaozhou (Emily) Zhou, Research Associate, OBHE
Associate Professor, Shanghai International Studies University
Rachael Merola, Senior Researcher, OBHE

China’s latest initiative to foster excellence in higher education, the Double First Class (DFC) Project, was released in September 2017 after much anticipation. It is the largest project to date in Chinese higher education, with an allocation of 40 billion RMB ($6.04 billion USD). The project identifies 137 Chinese universities, 42 of which are identified as Double First Class Universities and 95 of which offer Double First Class Disciplines, to receive funding with the aim to increase the global prestige of the Chinese higher education system by 2049-- the 100 year anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China. While a project of this scale is likely to have its desired impact on higher education rankings, it is unclear what the effect will be on other performance measures, including student outcomes, graduate employability, and teaching and learning. 

Full article available for members.


News analysis archive

Join our mailing list

To find out more about membership, please contact info@obhe.ac.uk


OBHE Publications

Our research agenda focuses on topics that have current and future relevance to transnational higher education, and our reports provide in-depth analysis of the latest developments, trends and challenges in borderless higher education. By synthesising the latest international developments, the research reports assess their wider implications for higher education leaders and policy makers.

The Observatory publishes original in-house research reports on themes that challenge the 'traditional' boundaries of higher education, and particularly those expected to impact the core business of universities and colleges.

The Observatory also commissions internationally renowned authors to prepare substantive reports on key issues in borderless higher education with specific national, regional and/or international perspectives. The issues are both timely and provocative, challenging institutional leaders in their thinking and understanding of topics critical to strategic planning. Authors draw on their experience and expertise to provide insight into a wide diversity of international experience.

View all reports     Articles     View sample report       Reports & articles (sampler)


The Observatory's full archive of News Headlines, Articles, and Reports is available on an unlimited basis to subscribers only.

Individual reports are also available to non-subscribers.Electronic versions of reports can be purchased through a publications search, where publication details are on view.

Certain limited articles are also available for purchase. Please note, however, that an institutional subscription provides more value for money.

To learn about the Observatory's breadth of coverage, search our publications archive.

Contact info@obhe.org for membership information.


Forthcoming Events


11 July 2018:TNE-Hub's 2nd Symposium, 'Transnational Education: Innovations in Practice', London, UK

15-18 July 2018:  World Congress on Education, Dublin, IRELAND

16-29 August 2018:  40th Annual EAIR Forum 2018, Budapest, HUNGARY

10 September 2018:  Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar, Developing the Knowledge Exchange Framework, London, UK

11 September 2018:ICEF Higher Education Partnership Forum, Geneva, SWITZERLAND

11-14 September 2018: EAIE 2018 Annual Conference, Geneva, SWITZERLAND

20 September 2018:UOC-coordinated Skill Up Project Multiplier Event, Stockholm, Sweden

27-29 September 2018:  NACAC 74th National Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

9-12 October 2018:  AIEC 2018, Sydney, AUSTRALIA    

4-5 November 2018:  Save the date - OBHE Global Forum in partnership with KHDA, Dubai, UAE

7-10 November 2018:  CIEE Annual Conference, Barcelona, SPAIN

9 November 2018:  ACA Seminar, 'Mobility-migration nexus: policies, practicies, discourses and evidence', Brussels, BELGIUM

13-15 November 2018:  IAU 2018 International Conference, Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA


20-23 January 2019:  AIEA Annual Conference, 'What's next - Possibilities and probabilities in the future of international higher education, San Francisco, CA, USA

February 2019:  IIE Summit, 'The Future of International Education', New York, NY, USA

23-25 October 2019:  6th Conference of the Americas on International Education (CAIE), Bogota, COLOMBIA

3-7 November 2019:  28th International Council for Open and Distance Learning (ICDE) World Conference on Online Learning, 'Transforming Lives and Societies', Dublin, IRELAND

View Past Events and Conference Presentations

Join our mailing list

Your Voice

Get in touch to share an event, propose a topic for us to cover, or send us feedback.

Contact us.

Redhill Chambers
2d High Street
Redhill, Surrey
United Kingdom

Tel:  033 00 164 005
Twitter:  @TheOBHE

Follow us on...

Twitter Twitter