Document Details

Title What does UCL’s closure in Adelaide tell us about branch campuses?
Author Rachael Merola - Senior Researcher, OBHE


In early February 2015, the University College London announced plans to close its campus in Adelaide, Australia, by 2017, at the completion of mining and energy partnerships with Santos and BHP Billiton worth $20 million. The campus, established as the UCL School of Energy & Resources, opened in 2010 as part of the South Australian government's strategy to create an educational hub in the city.

The university cited “academic and financial risk and sustainability, as well as emerging changes in UCL’s international strategic direction” for the closure. The announcement was followed by the resignation of campus chief executive David Travers on February 11th, who said, “It has been a privilege to lead the establishment of this unique school in Australia”. No successor has been named.

UCL Adelaide currently has around 100 science masters and doctoral students, mostly in mining and resource-related fields, and around 21 staff. The campus’ staff and management, including the chief executive, were not aware the campus would be closed when the university’s management in the UK made the announcement: as of last year its enrollments were on track and it had been profitable. UCL’s other branch campus, in Doha, Qatar, appears not to be affected by this change in strategic direction, nor is its partnership with Nazarbayev University in Astana, Kazakhstan.

What problems precipitated the closure of the UCL campus, and what does it mean for Adelaide’s plans as an education hub? While surprising, does the university’s decision to close its Adelaide campus indicate that it was deemed to be failing, or does it suggest that small branch campuses have different life spans than larger ventures, and could still be viewed as successful even if they close?

Date 16/02/2015
Region(s) Australia & Pacific Rim, Europe
Countries Australia, United Kingdom
Theme(s) Transnational Education (TNE) Models
Topic(s) Branch Campuses

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