International branch campuses (IBCs) are traditionally seen as a means of boosting international outreach and generating revenue for universities. As their name implies, they are supposed to be extensions[i] of their parent institutions.
It has been recently argued that some IBCs could break free and become independent institutions. One example is the American University in Dubai, which is now an independently accredited institution and no longer a branch campus of American InterContinental University. The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education, which has published reports on IBCs in 2002, 2006, 2009 and 2012, classified this institution as an IBC in 2009, but not in 2012. Another example is the United States International University in Kenya, which broke free from United States International University (USIU) when this merged in 2001 with California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP) and became Alliant International University.
If you’ve been following the recent press coverage or listen to government ministers speak about international students, you could be forgiven for thinking their only contribution to UK higher education was to finance the bottom line of universities. Through their unregulated fees, international students do pay a sizeable amount to study here in the UK. And whether universities admit it or not, international fee income unquestionably helps to subsidise the home and EU students they study alongside.
But to dwell on the financial contribution international students make is to miss the point. One of the greatest strengths of studying in a UK university is, and always has been the chance to meet fellow students from different backgrounds. This collision of perspectives and personal histories doesn’t just enrich the educational setting by adding new dimensions to the debate and discussion in our classrooms, it helps to shape a more civilised and understanding society. Continue reading “International students – more than just a cash cow for UK higher education”→