Use overseas arms to fund mission, expert says

March 27, 2008

Every UK university should consider opening outposts abroad or expanding online course provision to overseas students to help secure their futures.

That is the view of Kelvin Everest, director of academic affairs (China) at the University of Liverpool, who said success in these areas helped to ensure that universities could continue "doing what universities do". Liverpool set up a new university with Xi'an Jiaotong University in China in 2006.

Professor Everest said: "UK education is very good. All the universities ... are serious institutions. If the US were really to get its teeth into this it would be quite a different situation, but at the moment we are top of the range and quite small, and there is a great hunger out there worldwide to try to reap the benefits of what we have to offer," he said.

"I think every university in this country really should ... think about what's going to be a viable way of operating. You have to do it, and the market is big enough for everyone in Britain to do it."

But Professor Everest cautioned against viewing overseas provision as a cash cow. "It is not the case that you stumble across a licence to print money. If you succeed, you reposition yourself so you can go on doing what universities do - support research and support education.

"Unfortunately, if you make mistakes ... the reputational loss can be very serious - so it's not something to be casual about."

john.gill@tsleducation.com.

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