Branch campuses of well-known universities, particularly those long-established in the West, enable students from the home market to study in a new country but to the home academic system and standards. They also allow students from the host country to study at a respected foreign university without having to move abroad – a cost-effective option, particularly for students from emerging economies.
The greatest concentration of branch universities in the world is in Dubai. They are mainly found within two free trade zones: Dubai International Academic City and Dubai Knowledge Village. Dubai is host to over 30 branch campuses run by universities from 11 countries, of which British institutions have the strongest presence. Some 60% of degrees offered are in business, a field in which Dubai has become a specialist provider.
Purpose-built student accommodation is an important element of the overseas university branch offering, given the concentration of foreign students, and offers specialist investment and development opportunities. Dubai, for example, has been successful in attracting students from other Middle East countries, Asia, and increasingly, Africa – all huge potential growth markets. Together, international students account for 57% of those attending branch campuses in the Emirate.
Malaysia now has five UK University branch campuses with over 58,000 students studying for UK degree programme or professional qualifications. It is the largest world market for UK transnational higher education provision. Branch campuses needn’t be in a foreign country. More than a dozen UK institutions have opened branch campuses in London in a bid to raise their global appeal and attract international students. These campuses capitalise on links to government and international businesses based in London, enhancing the institution’s research and internship programme offer.