On the size of branch campuses

Biggest isn’t always best but it does tell you something

Looking at the latest University of Nottingham student statistics and the most recently published HESA data it struck me that Nottingham is now the UK’s largest campus university (ie if we exclude the Open University). However, it is important to understand that two of our campuses are not in the UK but in Malaysia and China. Both are integral parts of the University, they host University of Nottingham students who study on University of Nottingham degrees and are taught by University of Nottingham staff. And, as the recent QAA review of the University of Nottingham Ningbo China demonstrated, they do it all rather well.

Just to be clear about the numbers then. our latest figures show that we have the following number of students:

– University of Nottingham UK – 33,944
– University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) – 4,360
– University of Nottingham Ningbo China (UNNC) – 5,461

So nearly 44,000 students in total. Which makes Nottingham overall significantly ahead of the University of Manchester. Big deal you might say.

But the issue here really is about recognition that our campuses in Asia (and other UK universities who are more recent arrivals may say similar things) are integral parts of the University. The data on these campuses and other UK university students studying overseas is now collected by HESA and the only other source we have of overseas campuses from other countries is the OBHE survey, last published in January 2012.

This survey shows that two of the top 5 (in terms of size) offshore campuses of universities are in fact UNMC and UNNC. The OBHE top 10 is as follows:

Institution and total students

1 RMIT in Vietnam – 5,145
2 Monash University in Malaysia – 5,000 (approx.)
3 University of Nottingham Ningbo China – 4,536
4 AMA International University in Bahrain – 3,945 (2008-09)
5 University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus – 3,779
6 Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University – 3,240
7 Curtin University in Malaysia – 3,080
8 Limkokwing University of Creative Technology in Botswana – 3,040
9 Wollongong in Dubai – 3,000
10 Monash University in South Africa – 2,685

Although accurate updated figures are hard to establish it would seem that as of now the top five is roughly the same but with Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University replacing AMA International in Bahrain and with UNNC still the largest UK branch campus. OBHE only has student number data for just over half of the 200 branch campuses it has registered – of the 77,448 students counted in 2010-11, just under 12% of these are University of Nottingham students.

Looking at the data in the 2012 survey on some of the other branch campuses often cited as examples of significant global activity, it is clear that they are much smaller operations. For example:

  • Sorbonne in Abu Dhabi – 606 students
  • UCL in Kazakhstan – 140 students
  • Carnegie Mellon in Qatar – 280 students
  • NYU in Abu Dhabi – 307 students
  • UCL in Qatar – 2 students

Others often referred to such as Duke Kunshan and NYU Shanghai do not formally open until later this year.

So, the University of Nottingham is the biggest UK campus university and is the UK university with the biggest international campus. Just to help with the sense of scale of operations, if UNNC were in the UK it would be around 120th largest HEI, slightly smaller than Cranfield and the University of Chichester but still larger than around 40 other UK HEIs, including SOAS, Abertay and Queen Margaret University. And combined UNMC and UNNC are bigger than around 60 UK HEIs and would be roughly 100th largest.

Just to add at a bit more perspective here UNMC is only 13 years old, UNNC has yet to celebrate its first decade. Both campuses have grown extraordinarily quickly and both have significant profiles in their host countries.

One more statistic. For every one of the last five years 100% of UNNC graduates have secured jobs or progressed to further study, many of the former to multinational companies with operations in China, many of the latter to leading universities around the world. It’s a KPI to be proud of.

This is the future. Significant and large multinational, multi-campus operations. Several other UK universities followed Nottingham’s lead in Malaysia. Others are now looking at China. The UK remains second only to the US (or third if we count France’s ESMOD’s 12 overseas fashion schools) in the number of branch campuses overseas according to OBHE. I’m sure it will continue.

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High Speed HE: China Expands Abroad

A Chinese University Expands Into Malaysia.

Very fast indeed

Very fast indeed


The New York Times has a fascinating piece on a Chinese university expanding into Malaysia:

Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia said that the Selangor branch would initially take in 10,000 students, reported Bernama, the Malaysian state news agency. The student body would be divided into thirds, consisting of Chinese nationals, Malaysians and others.

The Malaysian campus, which will have five faculties and about 700 teaching staff members, is projected to cost 600 million Malaysian ringgit, or almost $200 million.

Ter Leong Yap, chairman of the luxury property developer Sunsuria and a Malaysian-Chinese business leader, helped fund the campus, the Malaysian state agency reported. The Chinese institution already has some ties to Southeast Asia: Its founder, the Xiamen-born businessman Tan Kah Kee, set up numerous schools in Singapore in the early 20th century.

The primary mode of instruction will be English, though there will be a department dedicated to Chinese language and literature.

It’s a massively ambitious project. Having an initial intake of 10,000 students would be extraordinary. I’m sure it will take them a few years to reach that number but nevertheless it would be an incredibly rapid growth plan. In a UK context such an institution would be medium-sized but it is worth remembering that it took more than 25 years for the universities founded in the 1960s to reach this kind of size.

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus

University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus


The new institution would also be double the size of the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus which itself has not been slow in expanding to 4,500 students in just over a decade. If it does go ahead though you do feel that China will make sure it does deliver this growth. And then there will be even more competition for the other international universities already operating in Malaysia.

Mapping global student mobility

A new interactive map

University World News has a piece on a new UNESCO interactive map on global student mobility which shows the inflows and outflows of mobile students across the world.

East Asia and the Pacific is the largest source of international students, representing 28% of the world’s 3.6 million mobile students in 2010. Central Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa have the most mobile students, and several countries have more students abroad than at home.

These facts are highlighted in a new “Global Flow of Tertiary-level Students” interactive map published by the UNESCO institute of Statistics (UIS) in Canada last month.

“The surge in internationally mobile students reflects the rapid expansion of enrolment in higher education globally, which has grown by 78% in a decade,” says the UIS, which defines ‘internationally mobile students’ as those who have crossed a national border to study or are enrolled in a distance learning programme abroad.

Some of the data seems a bit strange though. For example, it seems that the UK sends no students at all to China (which cannot be the case) and sends the same number of students to Malaysia as to the Vatican.

It’s a really good piece of work and quite diverting. What will be even more interesting is mapping changes in these student movements over time.

International Leadership Conference: Managing Global Universities

Last week saw the second International Leadership Conference at the University of Nottingham. Building on the success of the inaugural event held in China in November 2010, the 2011 event took place at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, 30km from Kuala Lumpur.

This intensive four day programme is designed for senior managers and leaders from higher education institutions from across the world. This was a really good event and I hope that all the delegates enjoyed it as much as I did.

We had a terrific line up of speakers, including:

Ken Sloan, Serco
Paul M. Marshall, 1994 Group
Graham Cartledge CBE, Benoy
Dr. Janet Ilieva, British Council
Tan Sri Lodin, Boustead Holdings
Phil Baty, Times Higher Education
Professor Robin Pollard, Monash University
Emma Leech, Director of Communications and Marketing, University of Nottingham
Professor Craig Mahoney, The Higher Education Academy
Professor David Greenaway, Vice-Chancellor, The University of Nottingham
Datuk Prof. Dr. Roziah Binti Omar, Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT)
Dato Prof. Dr. Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia

Thanks to all speakers and participants for making it such a good experience. Already looking forward to the 2012 event which will be held at University of Nottingham, Ningbo China.

Global Graduation Ceremonies

Graduation – anytime, anywhere

It is, in the UK at least, near the end of the season for graduation ceremonies. But as Nigel Thrift observed in a recent piece for the Chronicle of Higher Education there are likely to be ceremonies taking place across the globe, year round.

Graduates are getting younger every year...

Thrift notes that

the globalization of higher education means that it can no longer be assumed that all graduation ceremonies take place in one place. Making ceremonies in places which were not designed for the purpose can be a real challenge and simply having robes to hand does not work.

Probably, at some point during the year, somewhere in the world, there is a graduation ceremony taking place. At one time, it looked like these events might become a thing of the past but the apparatus of gowns, music, certificates, photographs, and films now just seems to keep on expanding. One for the anthropologists to explain.

It is perhaps strange how the traditions of the graduation ceremony have survived and indeed flourished across the world. However, as noted above, globalisation means that a lot of universities are now organising ceremonies in different parts of the globe. Wherever in the world the ceremonies are though they remain a major logistical exercise and a lot more effort than simply having the robes to hand (although that in itself can have a major impact on travelling staff luggage allowances).

At the University of Nottingham we have summer and winter ceremonies out our UK, China and Malaysia campuses (I think nearly 40 a year in total) and, despite all following the same rubric, they each have a distinctive character. And it is fair to say that the dress code in both China and Malaysia, where it tends to be a little bit warmer at this time of year, is generally rather more relaxed than in the UK. Perhaps a bit too relaxed at times – I do think we should draw the line at flip flops.

Newcastle goes Medical in Malaysia

Report here of signing of an agreement by the University of Newcastle with the Government of Malaysia to establish a medical programme in Johor:

The new international branch campus in Johor, Malaysia will be named Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed) and will deliver and award the University’s degrees in medicine and biomedical science.

Interesting that the affordability of medical education is described as a key issue in the development which is intended to open in 2011.

Surrey catches on

According to the BBC website, Surrey is aiming to emulate the University of Nottingham’s internationalisation achievements in China and Malaysia. The Guardian also carries the story.

UNNC

The University of Surrey wants to offer degrees in which students might move each year between partner universities in three countries. This could include universities in the US, China and elsewhere in Asia. The partnership will create undergraduate and postgraduate courses in management, computing and entrepreneurship – with the aim of allowing Chinese students to study in Guildford and for UK students to spend part of the course at Dongbei. Courses in China will be taught in English and will replicate those taught at the University of Surrey.

It’s a good pitch and well articulated. The fact that others are following suit helps to reinforce the value of what the University of Nottingham is doing.