American colleges and universities are increasingly looking overseas to form collaborative partnerships that can enhance institutional prestige and increase revenue. The rise of this global branch campus model is helping to transform higher education today. There are currently 164 international branch campuses around the world, most of which have opened over the past decade in response to changing technological advancements and economic challenges.
While successful proximal collaborations among tertiary institutions exist throughout the USA, they are not without their own challenges. These relationships can pose logistical obstacles for institutions that share both geography and ideology. When tertiary institutions collaborate on a global scale, these problems may be compounded by difficulties that arise from trans-national logistics, cultural differences, and conflicting political ideologies. To ensure success, it is important that clear goals are articulated to help institutions classify these relationships and define success.
This paper is a first step towards establishing a set of standards to define quality international education at the tertiary level. Using the literature about nine global partnerships, we coded emergent themes and selected the six categories mentioned most frequently in these sources: (1) Academic Offerings, (2) Faculty Involvement, (3) Mutual Benefits, (4) Relationship with local government, (5) Admissions Standards, and (6) Leadership & Organization. Using these categories, we developed a taxonomy that can be used to define the type of relationship that exists: Branch Campus or Campus Outpost.
The taxonomy is designed to facilitate reflection about mission, goals, and the ultimate purpose of an international collaboration. As such, it can be used to evaluate the components of each type of global partnership and to measure how these elements of the relationship may or may not contribute to its ultimate success. To demonstrate the taxonomy's usefulness in understanding global partnership arrangements, we used this tool to evaluate NYU's Abu Dhabi campus and to illustrate the strengths and challenges of this evolving relationship.