African adventure for Buckingham

More international adventures

An interesting piece in Times Higher Education about what many might see as a surprising international venture for the University of Buckingham:

Buckingham already has similar arrangements with institutions in Singapore and Sarajevo, while other UK universities have foreign campuses in places ranging from Dubai to China, but East Africa represents new ground.

Martin O’Hara, vice-chancellor of Victoria and former vice-rector of the National University of Rwanda, told Times Higher Education that the new private institution would “provide what is needed in the public sector”, namely “high quality at a good price”.

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Victoria is expecting to enrol 200-300 students on undergraduate courses in the coming academic year.

Buckingham will offer BScs in business and management, business and management with information systems, accounting and financial management, and computing, while Victoria is accrediting bachelor’s degrees in nursing and in science in public health.

The Buckingham degrees will normally be priced at US$7,000 (£4,423) a year, although for those enrolling in the first year, Victoria is offering a 50 per cent discount.

Five years from now, Victoria aims to have 4,000 students on its books, Professor O’Hara said, adding that the institution has long-term plans to expand this figure to between 12,000 and 15,000, with additional courses potentially including medicine.

It’s not entirely clear from the piece what the nature of the relationship is. Is it validation, franchise or joint venture? And what is the role of Edulink, the partner organisation which seems to have put up the capital?

Perhaps the most surprising factor here is the Buckingham strategy. Whilst it might be imagined that, with a White paper creating arguably much more favourable environment in England for institutions such as Buckingham, they would be focusing on new domestic opportunities rather than looking for international developments. But, as the piece notes, Buckingham already has other international partnerships in Singapore and Sarajevo so perhaps it isn’t such a novelty.

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It does seem that the proposition does have Ministerial support too (picture is from a signing ceremony in March 2011 involving Buckingham and Edulink).

Will it succeed? Will Buckingham’s reputation be enhanced by the arrangement? We’ll have to wait and see.

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