Transnational education strategies: what works, what doesn’t? A view from the Netherlands – Part 4 of 4

By Professor Robert Coelen, Stenden University, the Netherlands

Stenden University sees great value in the branch campus model.

Stenden University, based in the Netherlands, has four branch campuses: in Qatar (2000), South Africa (2001), Thailand (2007), and Indonesia (2010). These are all small campuses, with a total of 750 degree- seeking students. What was previously mobility from the Netherlands to the branch campuses is increasingly an exchange of students from one campus to another, as about 600 of the students are mobile between campuses. Classes are taught mostly by expatriate staff, with faculty at the different branches collaborating to create a more global curriculum. One of the branches is wholly owned by Stenden; the other three involve partners. Stenden is regularly approached by potential partners about opening a new branch.

Important lessons learned from Stenden include:

  • In establishing a branch campus, an institution needs to have a senior executive on site. This individual must understand the home institution and the educational model and philosophy, and be clear about the objectives.
  • Objectives between the home institution and partners must match. This must be the case at all levels, and must include academic objectives and financial objectives. A mismatch in objectives will doom a partnership.“International branch campuses offer the opportunity to internationalise your programme, your curriculum, in ways that you cannot do with just a home campus. They provide an extra dimension in a different context, which is worth a lot.” — Robert Coelen

Other Important Points

  • Plan ahead. Institutions need to be looking today at where the demand for education will come from in 2030, which is almost certainly in the Asia-Pacific region. This should be a primary focus of TNE.
  • Securing research contracts. While it is difficult to find TNE operations that are commercially successful, TNE and branch campuses can enhance an institution’s reputation and can help lead to significant research awards.
  • Internal politics. To make TNE arrangements work, there must be strong support at the very top of an institution and TNE must be embedded in the infrastructure of the organisation.

Link to the S6.02 Transnational education strategies

Dr Robert John Coelen is Vice-President International at Stenden University of Applied Sciences in the Netherlands. Prior to this appointment he was Vice-President International at Leiden University. 

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