fbpx
Market intelligence for international student recruitment from ICEF
22nd Nov 2016

China now the leading host for international branch campuses

A new report from the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) points to continued growth in the number of international branch campuses (IBCs) worldwide, but notes as well that much of that growth has been concentrated in Asia. Co-authored with the Cross-Border Education Research Team (C-BERT), International Branch Campuses, Trends and Developments, 2016 reveals that there are now 249 IBCs located in more than 70 countries. These offshore campuses are “owned, at least in part, by a foreign education provider; operated in the name of the foreign education provider; and [provide] an entire academic programme, substantially on site, leading to a degree awarded by the foreign education provider.” OBHE Senior Researcher Rachael Merola describes IBCs as “the most ambitious kind of cross-border higher education,” and as initiatives that redefine “institutional identities and national systems”. OBHE estimates that there are at least 180,000 student enrolled in IBCs today, but the report adds some important context as well in noting, “This is a significant number in absolute terms but is equivalent to less than 4% of the five million international students in the world…and a tiny fraction of the 150 million+ higher education students globally. In a few countries, such as UAE, IBCs constitute a significant proportion of total higher education enrolment; but in most they are niche players.” “The relative ease of student and programme mobility, compared to the institutional mobility inherent in a branch campus, suggests IBCs will remain substantially niche operations. The open question is whether over time IBCs of a certain type or within certain countries will achieve a stronger reputation for capacity and quality at scale, influencing national policies and institutional brands. IBCs, in all their diversity, have much room for growth.” On that note, OBHE reports that 66 new IBCs were established between 2011 and 2015. On the heels of a roughly equivalent number of new IBCs launched from 2006-2010, the absolute growth in IBC numbers has been quite stable over the decade. In addition to the new IBCs opened over the last five years, the final tally for 2015 also reflects the 15 campuses that closed or changed status during that same period. total-number-of-ibcs-worldwide Total number of IBCs worldwide, 2000-2015. Source: OBHE

Importers and exporters

The number of countries hosting IBCs has increased somewhat since 2011: 76 countries host IBCs today, which represents a 10% increase over the 69 host countries that were active as of early 2011. The top five hosts are now home to nearly four in ten IBCs (39%): China (32 IBCs), the United Arab Emirates (31), Singapore (12), Malaysia (12), and Qatar (11). number-of- ibcs-by-host-country Number of IBCs by host country, 2015. Source: OBHE As this tally suggests, China has now edged out the UAE as the top host country, reflecting both a slight decline in IBCs in the Emirates (from 32 campuses at the end of 2010 to 31 by end of 2015) as well as a dramatic increase in IBC operations within China (from 13 in 2010 to 32 today). OBHE attributes the softening global share of the UAE to “market saturation, changing strategies of local governments, and concern over instability in other parts of the region.” China, in contrast, is home to more than one in four new IBCs (26%) started since 2011, and continues to attract new IBC ventures today. OBHE puts the continued growth of international campuses in China down to local demand for higher education and also to host government support. The report notes generally that governments are motivated to attract IBCs by a drive to greater economic competitiveness, by an interest in boosting the political or cultural influence, and/or in the hopes of boosting the profile of national higher education systems. On the export side of the equation, the top “home” countries for IBCs are the US, the UK, Russia, France, and Australia. US institutions operate 78 IBCs currently, accounting for nearly a third of all offshore campuses worldwide and including 17 of the 66 new IBCs opened since 2011. The UK is the next-leading exporter after the US with British institutions operating 39 IBCs (16% of the global total) as of 2015. As these values illustrate, IBC activity is fairly concentrated both in terms of import markets where we see IBCs clustered in China and other selected Asian markets as well as in the MENA region. But this activity is also focused within a relatively small of exporting countries, with the US and UK as the clear leaders. “Future growth is being driven by institutions from the United States and Europe, particularly the UK. Nearly half of the known IBCs under development will be overseas campuses of institutions based in the US and UK. There are at least seven campuses under development in Asia and four in the Middle East, highlighting the geographic shift in activity [from the Middle East to Asia],” concludes the report. For additional background on IBCs, please see:

Most Recent

  • Market snapshot: A guide to international student recruitment in Brazil Read More
  • US coalition urges Congress to take action to improve visa processing this year Read More
  • Agent survey finds growing interest in alternative destinations; many students “hedging” plans with multiple applications Read More

Most Popular

  • Canada’s foreign enrolment grew by more than 30% in 2022 Read More
  • Measuring cost of study and cost of living across study destinations Read More
  • Recruiting in the Emirates: Big goals, world-class education, and new scholarships Read More

Because you found this article interesting

Market snapshot: A guide to international student recruitment in Brazil FAST FACTS Capital: Brasília Population: 218 million (2024) Youth population: 44% below the age of 30 Median age:...
Read more
US coalition urges Congress to take action to improve visa processing this year The U.S. for Success Coalition launched a campaign today in a bid to improve visa processing for foreign...
Read more
UK confirms Graduate Route will remain in place; plans “crackdown” on student visas and “rogue agents” Ahead of a snap general election called for 4 July 2024, and after months of speculation, a joint...
Read more
Will the US host 2 million international students within the decade? A new analysis from international research firm HolonIQ sets out four future growth scenarios for foreign enrolment in...
Read more
Ghanaian students are intent on study abroad but currency woes present a challenge Ghana’s ascent as a key emerging student market is well illustrated by recent enrolment growth in leading destinations....
Read more
Survey of Japanese agents indicates significant recovery in outbound student numbers for 2023 The annual survey of The Japan Association of Overseas Studies (JAOS) has just been released. This year’s survey...
Read more
Data shows a decline in Nigerian student searches for study abroad; UK may be hardest-hit Nigeria has been one of the most important new sources of students for leading study destinations worldwide in...
Read more
ICEF Podcast: How policy interventions are impacting student planning for study abroad Listen in as ICEF’s Craig Riggs and Martijn van de Veen check in on how foreign exchange trends...
Read more
What are you looking for?
Quick Links