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International Branch Campuses - Trends and Developments 2016
The OBHE & C-BERT of SUNY, Albany & Pennsylvania State University

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IBCs - Trends & Developments 2016

By the OBHE with C-BERT of SUNY at Albany & Pennsylvania State University


This is the fifth report on international branch campuses (IBCs) from the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education. It was produced in conjunction with the Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT) at the State University of New York at Albany and Pennsylvania State University. The Observatory and C-BERT are the world’s two leading authorities on international branch campuses.

The report provides analysis of one of the most topical developments in international higher education. It includes a full list of known IBCs in operation, along with data on year established, degrees and programs offered, and (where available) student numbers. It also lists all known IBCs currently in development and those recently closed. IBCs are discussed within a broader framework of cross-border higher education activity.

Summary Findings booklet
(For members)

Headline findings


 This report is available to members, and otherwise for sale. If you need a reminder of your log-in details, or if you would like more information about membership, please contact



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19 April 2017

Africa’s Online Journey:
Online Higher Education in Sub-Saharan Africa

Stephen Haggard
Director of Digital Learning Associates (UK)
Executive Chairman of Eneza Education, sub-Saharan Africa’s largest online school

Online higher education in the African continent is a tale of complexity, barriers, setbacks and thin pickings, offering the least development of any emerging market region. (I’m excluding South Africa from this article: the country has a pathway more aligned to mature markets).

With only 4% of the population outside South Africa accessing broadband, and endemic failure in basic education plaguing every African nation, it’s perhaps understandable that higher education institutions (HEIs) thinking about online may dismiss Africa entirely. Connectivity, bandwidth, devices and even power are often scarce, while the cultural and study foundations for independent technology-enabled learning are absent in schools. Staying away is the default option for most global higher education (HE) providers.

That complexity and relative immaturity is also why Africa merits attention. As edtech investor Henry Warren, formerly Pearson’s Director of Innovation puts it, "for organisations willing to take the time and roll their sleeves up, Africa should be a very attractive market. It's the last great blue ocean for education.”

Full article available for members.


13 April 2017

Too Much or Too Little?
Online Higher Education in Saudi Arabia

Dr Christopher Hill, OBHE Associate
Associate Professor, Faculty of Education, The British University in Dubai

When it comes to education, Saudi Arabia may be a victim of its own success. Fueled by unmatched oil wealth, the government’s massive investment in the education sector, greatly expanding access, has generated a nationally unprecedented pool of talent. However, the labour market has not evolved at the same pace, limiting opportunities for graduates. Employment for Saudi nationals is heavily skewed towards the higher-paying public sector, and despite reform efforts the country remains dependent on large numbers of foreign workers, not least in many highly skilled occupations. In 2014, graduate unemployment stood at 16%, although 32% for women and only 4% for men.

Given growth in bricks-and-mortar capacity, the role of online higher education may be less about access to conventional colleges and universities, but is starting to emerge as a blended pathway, and helps accommodate the kingdom’s norm of gender separation.

What does online higher education look like in Saudi Arabia, how is it regulated and is there evidence that Saudi residents are turning to online degrees from foreign providers?

Full article available for members.


7 April 2017

MOOCs GO, Online Degrees STOP-
Online Higher Education in India

Richard Garrett, Director, OBHE

In India, distance education is a big deal, at least at university level. There are more distance university students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, than so-called “regular” students who study at a physical campus. In 2015/16, there were 3.8 million distance students in universities, compared to only 2.9m regular students. Distance learners made up 61% of university undergraduates and 59% of postgraduate students below doctoral level.

This volume reflects a long-held reality that a country the size of India, with a fast-growing population and a desire to raise living standards, cannot rely on conventional education models alone. Distance education- leveraging economies of scale to lower tuition- has enabled India’s universities to reach far more students than would otherwise have been possible.

But then things get complicated. Regulation of distance education is in transition, a bill to create a new Distance Education Council of India is stuck in parliament, and the interim regulator forbids Indian universities from offering online degrees. At the same time, a grand MOOC initiative has been launched by the government.

What are the key characteristics of distance learning in Indian higher education, and what role does online learning play?

Full article available for members.




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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.

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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.


Japan: VET demand drives int’l student rise, The PIE News, 28 April 2017

Bildung in den Maghreb-Staaten, Bildungsklick (Germany), 28 April 2017

Higher Education Bill Passed, Fiji Sun Online, 28 April 2017

Can MOOC platforms galvanise universal education in India?, YourStory, 28 April 2017

Studieren im Ausland? Bitte hier entlang, Die Zeit (Germany), 28 April 2017

Student Tips: Earning an Undergraduate Degree Abroad, US News and World Report, 28 April 2017

US-Mexico HE relationships at a ‘critical juncture’, says ACE, The PIE News, 28 April 2017

Purdue’s Purchase of Kaplan Is a Big Bet — and a Sign of the Times, The Chronicle of Higher Education, 28 April 2017

Global visa crackdowns may herald era of ‘contested’ mobility, The Times Higher Education, 27 April 2017

Warum es immer mehr Ukrainer an polnische Unis zieht, Der Standard (Austria), 27 April 2017

Loss of international students would jeopardize middle-class jobs, The Sacramento Bee (USA), 27 April 2017

EU Responds to Hungary's Higher Education Law, Inside HigherEd, 27 April 2017




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Forthcoming Events


2-4 May 2017:  QS Middle East and Africa Professional Leaders in Education Conference and Exhibition (MAPLE), 'The Future of Higher Education in the Middle East and Africa', Dubai, UAE

10-12 May 2017:  International Conference on Globalisation and Issues of Higher Education, Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA

11-14 May 2017:  International Eurasian Educational Research Congress, 'Changing Times, Changing Needs – E-Education, Equality, Immigration and Differences', Denizli, TURKEY

18 May 2017:  i-graduate Best Practice Exchange Webinar, UK (9:30 – 11:30 AM), Online

19-20 May 2017:  NUFFIC International Conference on 'Education for life in Africa', The Hague, NETHERLANDS

22-24 May 2017:  British Council, 'Going Global 2017', London, UK

22-26 May 2017:  European MOOCs Stakeholders Summit, 'EMOOCs - Digital Education – Out to the World and Back to the Campus', Madrid, SPAIN

May 28 – June 2 2017:  NAFSA Conference, 'Expanding Community, Strengthening Connections', Los Angeles, California, USA

1-2 June 2017:  ENQA Workshop hosted by QQI, 'Exploring Synergies Between Quality Assurance and Qualifications Recognition', Dublin, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND

8-9 June 2017:  European Commission's International Conference on the Future of Education, Florence, ITALY

13-16 June 2017:  European Distance and e-Learning Network (EDEN) Annual Conference: 'Diversity Matters', Jönköping, SWEDEN

28-29 June 2017:  International AHE Conference, Manchester, UK

4-6 July 2017:  Higher Education Academy Annual Conference 2017 Generation TEF: Teaching in the spotlight, Manchester, UK

7-9 July 2017:  British Educational Leadership Management and Administration Society (BELMAS) Conference: 'Educational Leadership for a Global Society – Challenges, Dilemmas and Ways Forward', Ettington Chase, Stratford-on-Avon, UK

23-24 August 2017:  The Singapore Education Technology Conference (SETC 2017), SINGAPORE

12-15 September 2017:  EAIE 2017, 'A Mosaic of Cultures', Seville, SPAIN

18-20 September 2017:  International Conference on e-Learning and e-Technologies in Education (ICEEE), Lodz, POLAND

11-13 October 2017: Conference of the Americas on International Education, Montreal, CANADA

12-14 October 2017:  Association of American Colleges & Universities (AACU), 'Global Engagement and Social Responsibility: Higher Education’s Role in Addressing Global Crises', New Orleans, USA

17-19 October 2017:  27th International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) World Conference, Toronto, CANADA

18-20 October 2017:  IAU 2017 International Conference,'Leadership for a changing public-private funding higher education landscape', Accra, GHANA

26-27 October 2017:  European Conference on e-Learning (ECEL), Porto, PORTUGAL

2-4 November 2017:  Global  Access to Postsecondary Education (GAPS)2nd World Congress on Global Access to Postsecondary Education: Working Together for a Democratized Postsecondary Education, São Paulo, BRAZIL

14 November 2017:  Westminster Higher Education Forum, 'Next steps for developing the 2021 Research Excellence Framework', London, ENGLAND

14-16 November 2017:  MENA Higher Education Leadership Forum: 'Strengthening the Dialogue between Higher Education, Government and Industry – Working Together towards a Common Vision', Dubai, UAE

21 November 2017:  Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar, Next steps for international student recruitment in the UK - changes to the visa system and promoting the UK as a destination post-Brexit, London, UK

23-25 November 2017:  European Quality Assurance Forum (EQAF), Riga, LATVIA

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International Branch Campuses
Trends & Developments 2016

by the OBHE & C-BERT

Summary Findings booklet
(For members)

Headline findings






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