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



Recent Blogpost!

News Analysis Focus for 2017 – Online HE in 30 Countries
Published on our parent company Tribal Group's blog

Our 2017 Global Forum!

Ready or Not - The Role of Online & Blended Learning in HE
11-12 December, London
Presentations           Programme


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or renew your subscription before 31 January

Our Global Network is expanding and we would like you to be part of it in 2018.
As a friend of the Observatory we hope you enjoy our open-access news analyses on all aspects of borderless higher education from trends in Transnational Education to Distance Education.

To become a part of our Global Network we are pleased to offer you a special 20% discount if you join or renew before 31st January.

Observatory membership will provide you with exclusive access to our regular member-only articles and reports. We launched our most recent report on International Branch Campuses in December 2017.You can find full membership benefits here.  

Our theme for 2018 is the thorny question of how to define, report and benchmark student outcomes. The innovations the Observatory was founded to track in 2001 have reached a scale and maturity that demands more than just notice of another ambitious initiative or counting student enrollment. Judging return-on-investment for students, institutions and beyond is vital if higher education innovations are to yield maximum value.

In 2018, the Observatory will review what is known about the outcomes of online learning, transnational education and other innovative models; and how those compare to outcomes for higher education generally. Of course, the question of outcomes for traditional students and institutions is itself timely, complicated and controversial, and top-of-mind for governments, students, parents and employers.

Our current in-house project is a report, to be published in the spring, synthesising the findings of 2017 study of online and blended learning around the world. This was also the topic of our Global Forum in London last December. Global Forum presentations are available to view here.

We look forward to another interesting year of data and analysis.

14 November 2017

Internationalisation of Indian Higher Education:
A one-way traffic?

Kriti Dagar, Doctoral Scholar,
National University of Educational Planning & Administration (NUEPA), New Delhi

Internationalisation has been a powerful and pervasive force in shaping higher education in India. Governments, international bodies and universities have created myriad programmes and frameworks to pave the way for internationalisation, though barriers remain- imbalance in student mobility, poor employment prospects for international students, and a resistance to broader forms of transnational education (TNE), to name a few.  While India may not emerge as a frontrunner in international education in the short-term, it may benefit from the level of internationalisation it has achieved thus far, focusing on knowledge spill overs, brain circulation, collaborative projects, and technology transfers gained from institutional partnerships.



25 October 2017

Online Higher Education in England -  
Explaining distance learning decline

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

This article looks at the progress of online higher education in England. The main focus is online distance learning, but there is also discussion of blends between online and campus.

England is a special case, featuring a big distance learning footprint for both domestic students and international students offshore. The country encompasses one large specialist institution, the Open University (which operates throughout the UK), a large offshore distance provider, University of London International Programmes, and a growing number of conventional universities that offer online degrees. But what is surprising is that domestic distance enrolment is in decline, and is flat for transnational students. What is going on?

Our primary concern is England but some of the online initiatives and data discussed span the United Kingdom. Distance learning plays a role in Scottish and Welsh higher education but these are beyond the scope of this article.  While there are many organisations, public and private, offering online courses at various levels and for a range of purposes, the focus here is higher education institutions (HEIs). The vast majority of HEIs in England are required to report enrolment to HESA, the UK’s higher education statistics agency, but a few private providers are not.

Full article available for members.


2 October 2017

Online higher education in South Korea -
The cyber-universities 20 years on

Richard Garrett, Director, OBHE
Rachael Merola, Sr Researcher, OBHE

South Korea took an interest in online learning early on. As part of a wide-ranging Cyber Korea strategy in the 1990s, turning the country into the most wired nation in the world, the government encouraged universities to establish online or so-called cyber-universities. An emphasis on lifelong learning, to help the country cement its rapid economic rise, positioned cyber-universities as a way to reach working adults and experiment with new technology.

Today, Korea enjoys a particular combination of circumstances. Young adults boast the top tertiary education attainment rate in the OECD but live in a country where graduate unemployment is seen as too high. Korea is rapidly ageing. This means a surfeit of universities and worries about return on investment. At the same time, tens of thousands of Koreans still study abroad, and the government is trying to create a regional hub for foreign higher education institutions.

In a country with excess higher education capacity, where does online learning fit in? How have cyber-universities fared over the past twenty years?

Full article available for members.



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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.

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.

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Forthcoming Events


30 January 2018:  The future of UK science and innovation - Brexit, the Industrial Strategy and the HE and Research Act, London, England

14-15 February 2018:  The 16th Annual Washington International Education Conference, Washington, DC, USA

18-21 February 2018:  AIEA Annual Conference, 'The Internationalization Imperative in Turbulent Times', Washington, DC, USA

6 March 2018:  Westminster Higher Education Forum Keynote Seminar, 'Next steps for the UK’s outward student mobility strategy and involvement in Erasmus+', London, England

10-13 March 2018:  ACE 2018 - 100th Annual Meeting, Washington, DC, USA

14 March 2018:  Universities UK International, 'International Higher Education Forum 2018: thriving in a shifting global environment', Nottingham, England

16-17 March 2018:  11th Annual COIL Conference - Global Learning for All, New York, NY, USA

21-23 March 2018:  The Forum on Education Abroad's 14th Annual Conference, 'Building on Strong Foundations: Best Practices for an Evolving Field', Boston, MA, USA

22-23 March 2018:   Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Social Media and Communities Conference 2018, Brighton, England

25-29 March 2018: APAIE 2018 Conference & Exhibition, SINGAPORE

25-29 March 2018:  Comparative and International Education Society (CIES),'Re-Mapping Global Education' South-North Dialogue, Mexico City, MEXICO

26-27 March 2017:  AUA Annual Conference and Exhibition, 'Beyond Brexit; embracing uncertainty, defining our purpose, sustaining successful professionals', Manchester, England

5-6 April 2018:  European University Association (EUA) 2018 Annual Conference, Zurich, SWITZERLAND

23-26 April 2018:  Scholars at Risk Global Congress, Berlin, GERMANY

2-4 May 2018:  Going Global, 'Redesigning Excellence: Higher Education for Global Societal Impact', Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA

27 May - 1 June 2018:  NAFSA Annual Conference & Expo, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

20-22 June 2018:  HEAd'18 - 4th International Conference on Higher Education Advances, Valencia, SPAIN

25-28 June 2018:  Canada International Conference on Education (CICE), Mississauga, CANADA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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