Book by Jason E. Lane & Kevin Kinser (Eds.)
Review by Janice Gunes
Enrollment and Student Services
The Community College of Baltimore County
In this era of globalization and increased interconnectedness among countries around the world, institutions of higher education, both four-year and two-year schools, have looked for ways to expand their global reach. International branch campuses (IBCs) provide some of the solution. An IBC is a very specific type of international activity through which an institution in one country, referred to as the home country, opens a campus in another country, referred to as the host country (5). Education has proven to be an attractive tradable service; it is one of the top ten U.S. service exports, grossing almost U.S. $20 billion in 2009 (80). This edited volume includes strategies for opening an IBC, how to manage and staff an IBC, challenges both at home and in the host country, and outcomes and success stories.
Many institutions think about opening an IBC at some point but may not have the necessary connections or resources to do so. The book highlights the success stories of Texas A&M University at Qatar (Texas A&M is one of six universities that operate a branch campus in Qatar’s Education City), Houston Community College (HCC) in Vietnam and Qatar, and New York University Abu Dhabi. Each institution began its partnership with the host country in unique ways, but in all, one must remember that when an institution opens an IBC in another country, they are creating a de facto cultural embassy and participating in the affairs of public diplomacy (15).
The home school must be respectful of local laws, cultural norms, hiring practices, and educational policies while still adhering to the home school’s tradition and integrity. For example, when Texas A&M began its operations in Qatar, it was apparent that some home campus traditions could be replicated in Qatar, and some could not. Texas A&M was able to recreate “Maroon Out” and have students in the host country wear maroon on the days the (American) football team plays a game, but it could not bring its mascot, a dog, to the host country since there is a strong cultural disdain for dogs in Middle Eastern cultures (37). One challenge HCC overcame was the initial objection that a community college, which is supposed to serve the needs of the local community and is funded locally, should not be serving other communities, particularly abroad (46). The intent is not to ignore local needs but rather to develop a range of international engagements and leverage them to serve students and communities in the home country; HCC can now provide students who want to learn and/or work outside the U.S. a chance for exposure to the global economy (50-51).
Reading this book would be very valuable for someone who has worked in higher education for many years and desires either a “change in scenery” or job experience abroad. When Texas A&M began planning for its campus in Qatar, it was decided that all members of the student affairs staff in Qatar should have experience working on the main campus for many years prior to assuming a role at the campus in Qatar (32). This book would also be helpful for study abroad advisors who would like to describe to students what life would be like at an IBC.
Multinational Colleges and Universities: Leading, Governing, and Managing International Branch Campuses. (2011) Book by Jason E. Lane & Kevin Kinser (Eds.). Review by Janice Gunes. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. 124 pp. $29.00, (paperback), ISBN # 978-1-1181-5925-5