2018 Global Forum Highlights

See Photo and Video Highlights and view Selected Presentations from our Global Forum on Student Well-Being And Outcomes in Education


29 August 2019

International Branch Campuses and TNE in China: definitions, growth and rationalization

Xiaozhou (Emily) Zhou, Associate Professor at the School of English Studies, Shanghai International Studies University and Rachael Merola, Senior Researcher, OBHE  

At last count by OBHE/CBERT, there were 37 international branch campuses (IBCs) in operation in China, overtaking the UAE as the top host country for this type of TNE. IBCs come from institutions based in a diverse group of home countries, including Australia (2), Canada (2), China (Hong Kong SAR) (2), Germany, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, United Kingdom (9), United States (12), and France (3).  Growth is rapid-- since 2014, 13 campuses have opened. 

OBHE/CBERT counts 37 IBCS and China only 9. Why the difference? This article looks at the newest IBCs in China, different definitions, and China's growing emphasis on quality over quantity. 


 20 August 2019

Silk Road TNE: the established but little known case of Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Lobar Mukhamedova, Dean of Teaching and Learning, Westminster International University in Tashkent and Christopher Hill, Director of the Doctoral Training Centre and Associate Professor of Education, The British University in Dubai

In a place many still can’t place on a map, a quiet but successful TNE story is unfolding.  While much attention to TNE in general, and branch campuses in particular, tends to focus on South East Asia or the Middle East, Tashkent, Uzbekistan, represents an interesting case study of established multi-nation providers in an emerging economy. With over 41% of the population under the age of 17, there is considerable scope for sustained growth in higher education.  While cost remains an issue, the appetite for higher education is evident.

Tashkent hosts IBCs from eight countries, and the IBC total has surged in the past two years. As recently as 2017, there were only six “International Universities” and one foreign “Institute” in the country.  Just two years later, as of June 2019, there were 17 “international universities”.  The total list now comprises 7 Russian, 1 Singaporean, 1 Italian, 1 UK, 3 Korean, 1 USA, 2 Indian, and 1 Latvian higher education institution. Together, TNE represents about 5% of total higher education enrollment in Uzbekistan.


13 August 2019

How do International Branch Campuses fit into the greater TNE picture in Mexico?

Rachael Merola, Senior Researcher, OBHE

With a young and increasingly middle-class population, demand for higher education in Mexico is growing at all levels-- undergraduate, masters and PhD.  There are over 4 million students enrolled across more than 3,100 institutions, and enrollment has more than doubled in the past two decades, far outpacing population growth at the traditional age for higher education entry. In 2012 Mexico’s government prioritized higher education expansion, with a goal of creating 1.5 million new places by 2018 and increasing participation to 40% of the traditional age group, close to the regional average. While this goal was not reached, current participation lies around 30% today, much greater than 15% in 1991.

With a higher education environment eager for international collaboration and growing, particularly with the United States, there exist few campuses that fit the OBHE/CBERT definition of an international branch campus (IBC): “an entity that is owned, at least in part, by a foreign education provider; operated in the name of the foreign education provider; and provides an entire academic program, substantially on site, leading to a degree awarded by the foreign education provider.”This article looks at the IBC activity in Mexico and how it fits into the larger array of transnational education (TNE) endeavors.

Full article available to members and free trials. 


10 May 2019

International [Branch] Campuses: OBHE coverage focus for 2019

Rachael Merola, Senior Researcher, OBHE

The OBHE begins a new focus on one of the most ambitious and longstanding forms of transnational education: the international branch campus (IBC). Since 2002 the OBHE has published six reports on the IBC phenomenon, the most recent two in conjunction with the Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT), co-hosted at Albany’s Institute for Global Education Policy Studies and the Center for the Study of Higher Education at Pennsylvania State University. This collaboration has resulted in the most comprehensive list of IBCs in existence.

The last report., released in December 2017, named 263 entities that fit OBHE/C-BERT’s definition of an international branch campus: “an entity that is owned, at least in part, by a foreign education provider; operated in the name of the foreign education provider; and provides an entire academic program, substantially on site, leading to a degree awarded by the foreign education provider.”

The 2017 report investigated success factors of “mature” IBCs founded prior to 2007, which constituted around half (130) of the IBCs counted at that time. Over three-quarters of these mature IBCs were founded by institutions based in just five countries: the US, the UK, Russia, France, and Australia. Recent growth continues to be driven by a small set of countries; in fact, half of all IBCs under development worldwide in 2017 were being planned by institutions based in the US and UK.

In 2019 OBHE/C-BERT will release a new report, including an updated count of the number and spread of IBCs globally.  Throughout the coming 12 months, the OBHE will complement the report with coverage of a range of trends and developments. Some of the planned topics are discussed in this article.

Full article available to all


25 April 2019

The Measure of Reform. Looking for Data on Student Success in the Philippines

Richard Garrett, Director, OBHE

The Philippines is home to the 11th largest higher education system in the world- with some 3.6 million students. The country is estimated to be the 12th most populous in the world, and destined to hit the top ten in the coming decades. But curiously, despite its scale, growing wealth and widespread use of English, the Philippines is nowhere to be seen in the Universitas 21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems. All the ten largest higher education systems- from Brazil to India, and Iran to Indonesia- are in the U21’s Top 50, so why not the Philippines?

Full article available for members and free trials.

12 March 2019

Student Experience as an Outcome: Performance-based funding in Australian higher education

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

Rachael Merola, Senior Researcher, OBHE

Australia has long debated using student outcomes as a metric for funding, including experimenting with performance-based funding for learning and teaching from 2005 to 2009. Even as public expenditure per student has declined, increased enrollment has made total public spend on higher education rise, igniting renewed interest in measuring graduate outcomes and value for money and linking results to funding. This is a difficult task; stakeholders have struggled to agree on which outcomes should be measured, how university performance can be tracked, and whether there is adequate and accurate data to do so. The reintroduction of performance-based funding, to be implemented in 2020, will use student outcomes as the criteria for funding increases.

Full article available for members.

28  February 2019

What do New Zealand graduate outcomes tell us about progress on the nation’s skills shortages?

Rachael Merola, Senior Researcher, OBHE

Tertiary education in New Zealand has continued to make strides in both quality and access in recent years. The sector covers all post-secondary education including private training establishments (PTEs), institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs), wānanga universities and workplace training. All of the country’s eight state-funded universities were ranked in the top 100 in at least one subject in the 2015/16 QS World University Rankings, and government funding of research and research-led teaching increased to $622 million in 2018 from $576 million in 2017. Attracted by quality, cost, and work opportunities, international student numbers climbed 33% in universities from 2012-2016.  To improve access, first year fees for domestic students and qualifying residents were waived in 2017. While these measures give the impression that the nation is experiencing a Golden Age in tertiary education, data on the outcomes of graduates suggest a persistent skills shortage.

Full article available for members.

22 January 2019

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The International Quest to Define and Improve Student Success

On November 4-5, 2018 the Global Forum took place at the V Hotel Curio Collection by Hilton in Dubai, UAE. The theme was “The International Quest to Define and Improve Student Success: A global forum on student well-being and outcomes in higher education”. Please see photo highlights and video coverage of the event. The agenda and speaker bios are here

The knowledge partner of the 2018 Global Forum was the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) in Dubai. As it does each year, the Forum brought together 125+ policy-makers, researchers, faculty, and practitioners to delve into some of the most salient topics in international higher education—this year, student well-being and outcomes in HE.

The Forum’s keynote talk was delivered by Sir Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham and one of the world’s leading thinkers on student well-being.  The topic was “Improving Student Success- The positive and mindful university”. 

Speakers and delegates hailed from a range of organisations including KHDA, Quality Assurance Agency (UK), TEQSA (Australia), CPE (Singapore), SP Jain, Zayed University, Heriot-Watt University, TecMilenio University, and i-graduate, and locations including UK, USA, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Mexico, UAE, and more. Selected presentations can be found here

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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.

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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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More than an oil powerhouse? A closer look at Norway’s evolving research systemScience Business, 26 November 2019

World University Rankings by MOOC Performance 2020MOOC Lab, 25 November 2019

Inside Honoris: The first private pan-African higher education networkAfrican Outlook, 22 November 2019

Investment in Skills in 8th Five-Year Plan [Bangladesh], Daily Star, 20 November 2019

Vietnamese students continue to head for USVN Express International, 20 November 2019

Nigerian students contributed $514m to U.S. economy in 2018 – ReportPulse, 19 November 2019

Higher education sector has ‘failed to make case for funding’ [Ireland]Irish Times, 18 November 2019

A $157M Fundraise for Guild Education Births Edtech’s Newest Unicorn [USA]EdSurge, 13 Novembe 2019

New education policy envisions Nepal as hub for studentsThe Himalayan Times, 9 November 2019

Surprise for Grand Canyon's Nonprofit Conversion, Inside Higher Ed, 7 November 2019

Armenian students, teachers protest against bill proposing to do away with courses in Armenian languageJAM News, 7 November 2019

Why universities are trying to recruit overseas students from as many places as possible [Canada]Macleans, 4 November 2019

Stimulating a competitive era for Poland’s universities? University World News, 2 November 2019

China Revamps Undergraduate Studies, Tapping Controversial Talent Program, CXTech, 2 November 2019

iie Open Doors 2019 data on international students in the U.S. now availableInstitute for International Education,November 2019

Saudi Arabia to allow foreign universities to open local branchesMiddle East Monitor, 30 October 2019

Cameroon mulls job-oriented reform in higher educationXinhuanet, 23 October 2019


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Forthcoming Events


25-29 August 2019:  40th French-German Colloquium on student affairs  conference on "Student Life in Europe - social responsibility, commitment, mobility", Strasbourg, FRANCE

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

6 November 2019:  UUKi TNE Conference, London, UK

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