Foreign branches grow rapidly
The number of universities operating "branch campuses" overseas has increased by 43 per cent in just three years, according to a report by the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education. There are now 162 such campuses, which offer full degrees in the name of their host institutions. The rise of such campuses is a relatively new phenomenon, as only 35 of the campuses identified in the study existed prior to 1999, according to InsideHigherEd, the American news website. The US sector had the most branch campuses with 78, followed by Australia with 14 and the UK with 13. The United Arab Emirates hosted more campuses than any other nation, with 40.
Private foundations building up
Half of French universities have created, or are in the process of creating, foundations to raise private funds, according to Valerie Pecresse, Minister for Higher Education and Research. By January 2010, 60 universities will have set up foundations in an attempt to mimic the fortunes of successful fundraisers in the US, such as Harvard and Yale universities, the Science-Business news network reported. Until recently, the Ministry of Finance did not give tax breaks to donors, but the rules have been relaxed and a law on university reform, passed in July 2007, introduced a new structure for university foundations that encouraged companies to invest in them. Firms can deduct up to 60 per cent of gifts from their corporation tax bills.
Australian universities could soon set up campuses in India. Julia Gillard, the Deputy Prime Minister, who is currently touring India, recently met with its Minister for Human Resource Development, Shri Kapil Sibal, to discuss potential developments. Ms Gillard's office released a statement saying that the prospect of new partnerships was an important step. "The Indian education system is growing rapidly as a result of government reforms and population growth. This dialogue creates a major opportunity for Australia and Australian education institutions to be partners and collaborators in this growing sector," the statement says. Currently, Indian students make up the second-highest international student group in Australian universities, and the Indian market is one that other big names in global higher education are keen to court. Australia's Monash University is currently partnering the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, and last year built a A$10 million (£5.1 million) facility in Mumbai.
Utrecht plans viral contribution
Utrecht University has invited young people to help design its latest marketing campaign. The Marketing Web website reported that the university, together with consultancy CreatAd, has launched a competition to design a viral campaign aimed at prospective Dutch and international students. Bas Schreiner, manager of marketing communication at Utrecht, said it was a unique opportunity for "ambitious young creative types" to work on the campaign, which must feature a design, animation or video about the institution. The winning entry will receive a EUR22,000 (£19,173) prize. Participants can link their entries directly to Hyves, Facebook or Twitter to enhance the university's viral presence.
Quality, risk and failure
There must be more space for "risk-taking and failure" in the quality assurance systems used in universities across Europe, according to a report from the European University Association (EUA). Improving quality, enhancing creativity: change process in European higher education institutions, based on a two-year European Commission-funded scheme, says quality assurance must be "context-sensitive", taking account of different disciplines, cultures and national contexts, and should be inclusive, "engaging the whole community (academics and students)". The study was carried out by the EUA, the Accreditation, Certification and Quality Assurance Institute, Germany, the UK's Higher Education Academy and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth. It brought together 29 institutions and quality assurance agencies from 18 countries.