Branch campuses: a valuable solution to mobility restrictions?

Presenter: Achille Versaevel
Authors and Affiliations:
Jorica Pamintuan, Non-affiliated; Achille Versaevel, Non-affiliated

Throughout the past 15 years, over 300 ‘branch campuses’ have been opened by higher education institutions as an alternative to overseas studies. While many of these campuses are economically viable, they often struggle to gain as much traction among prospective students as mother institutions would hope. The 2020 pandemic offers a great opportunity to better understand why. Due to restrictions on international mobility, many incoming international students were unable to reach their place of study in 2020. In an attempt to prevent them from deferring or declining their offers, a number of higher education institutions offered students who had applied to study in their main campus the option to start the school year in one of their branch campuses instead, in the students’ home country. Yet, first indications show that only a tiny minority accepted such offers. In this paper, we try to understand why students decline the offer to start the academic year in a branch campus in their home country. We approach physical mobility as an investment from which they seek a ‘mobility dividend’ related to their immersion in a new society, which they would not receive by studying in a local branch campus. Drawing on an online questionnaire and in-depth follow-up interviews, we focus on Chinese and Indian students who had applied to study abroad for the first time, who were planning to move to Northern America or Europe, were offered to start the school year in a branch campus in their home country instead, and declined the latter offer. By focusing for the first time on a population of students that had initially applied to study in a main campus, we make an original contribution to the flourishing literature on transnational education.

About Authors

Jorica Pamintuan

Affiliation/s: Non-affiliated

Jori is a communications specialist with a background in development research, journalism, and media production. Her research interests include labour migration from Southeast Asia, domestic work, and migrant return and reintegration. She obtained a BA in Journalism from the University of the Philippines in 2012, and an MSc in Migration Studies from the University of Oxford in 2019. She has previously worked on labour migration-related projects with CIFAL Philippines, a UNITAR-affiliated research and training centre based in Manila, as well as the United Nations University Institute in Macau. She currently handles communications and external relations for an international organisation in Manila.

Achille Versaevel

Affiliation/s: Non-affiliated

Achille is a junior specialist in migration from, within and towards Europe. He graduated in 2018 with a first Master’s degree in European Studies from King’s College London and the Humboldt University in Berlin. He then opted for a second Master’s degree, in Migration Studies and at the University of Oxford, from which he graduated in 2019. Since then, he has worked for the Research Unit of the International Organisation for Migration in Vienna and for Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency. He is acting as a Communications Officer for Routed Magazine, an online publication on migration and (im)mobility.


Professor Biao Xiang

Affiliation/s: Professor of Social Anthropology, University of Oxford
Incumbent Director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

Biao Xiang studied sociology at Beijing University, China, and received his PhD in social anthropology from the University of Oxford, UK. He worked at Oxford from 2004. Xiang is the winner of the 2008 Anthony Leeds Prize for his book Global Bodyshopping and the 2012 William L. Holland Prize for his article ‘Predatory Princes’. His 2000 Chinese book 跨越边界的社区 (published in English as Transcending Boundaries, 2005) was reprinted in 2018 as a contemporary classic. His work has been translated into Japanese, French, Korean, Spanish, and Italian. Currently, Xiang is re-examining the multifaceted implications of mobility and immobility for societies and individuals, as evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition he is studying social debates in China, social research practices in the global South, and new patterns of economic circulation.

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