Assessing the Feasibility of International Branch Campuses

Factors Universities Consider when Establishing Campuses Abroad

by Megan Clifford

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International branch campuses (IBCs) — degree-granting higher education institutions (HEIs) located in different countries than the HEIs that originated or operate them — are an important and growing part of the international higher education landscape. Unfortunately, little guidance about the process of establishing an IBC exists to help decision-makers at parent institutions determine whether or not to pursue a particular opportunity.

To address this gap, this dissertation addresses two research questions:

  1. What are the steps in the decision-making process HEIs go through when making decisions regarding whether or not to establish an IBC?
  2. What key factors do HEIs use to evaluate a potential IBC?

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Background, Purpose, and Research Questions

  • Chapter Two

    What the Literature Tells us About IBCs

  • Chapter Three

    Building a Conceptual Framework

  • Chapter Four


  • Chapter Five

    Findings from the Interviews

  • Chapter Six

    Applicability of the Conceptual Framework

  • Chapter Seven

    Conclusions, Policy Implications, and Future Research

  • Appendix A

    Semi-Structured Interview Protocol

  • Appendix B


  • Appendix C

    Informed Consent

Research conducted by

This document was submitted as a dissertation in May 2015 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. The faculty committee that supervised and approved the dissertation consisted of Charles Goldman (Chair), Darleen Opfer, and Dave Baiocchi.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Dissertation series. Pardee RAND dissertations are produced by graduate fellows of the Pardee RAND Graduate School, the world's leading producer of Ph.D.'s in policy analysis. The dissertations are supervised, reviewed, and approved by a Pardee RAND faculty committee overseeing each dissertation.

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