International Branch Campuses – latest figures and analysis

Last updated: 10/07/2018

The Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) has teamed up with the Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT- at SUNY Albany and Penn State) to put together a new report on International Branch Campuses.

The OBHE is a research unit within the i-graduate division of Tribal Group, providing insight to its c.150 institutional members around the world on topics such as online learning, transnational education and commercial competition and partnerships.

The new report defines an international branch campus (IBC) as “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”.

Here are some key trends and developments identified in the report:

Strong overall growth continues

At the end of 2015, the number of IBCs worldwide hit 249. From 2011 – 2015, 66 IBCs were founded, compared to 67 between 2006 and 2010.

Market is dominated by a handful of home countries

IBCs come from 33 different home countries, up from 28 at the end of 2010. However, the top five home countries: US, UK, Russia, France and Australia, account for 180 branch campuses – 73% of the total number of IBCs in the world.

China emerges as top host country beating United Arab Emirates

IBCs are hosted by 76 countries, up from 69 countries at the end of 2010. The top five host countries are China, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, Malaysia and Qatar, which together host 98 IBCs, or 39% of the world’s total.

Student numbers continue to rise

At the end of 2015, an estimated 180,000 students worldwide were enrolled in IBCs.

Growth is driven by the US and Europe

Growth continues to be largely driven by institutions based in the United States and Europe. Of the IBCs currently under development worldwide, nearly half are planned by institutions based in the US and UK.

The full report offers comprehensive analysis on one of the most topical developments in international higher education, providing a full list of known IBCs in operation and under development, along with data on year established, degrees and programs offered, and student numbers. It also offers analysis of typologies, government rationales and motivations for opening IBCs, and the various quality assurance models in place.

Part 2 of the IBC report, to be published in 2017, will be based on interviews with institutional leaders at a sample of IBCs in operations for at least a decade. It will investigate motivations and operations of mature IBCs, explore the question of how to judge success from different perspectives, and what combination of conditions breeds success.

Part 1 is available now for Observatory members and can also be purchased by non-members. More information on the report is available below:

access the report