Exporting American Universities – Lessons From the Japanese Experience

A recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education gives some background on the failure of American Universities in Japan during the 1980s.  Of the forty American Universities which opened in Japan during that period, only one university, Temple University, has managed to survive to the present as a full university.  Generally, these branch universities were meant to serve as sort of a portal to the central University back in the United States in the first years, allowing Japanese students to earn university credits back home before transferring to the central University in the U.S.  However, the hope was that many of these branch universities would establish themselves as full-service universities eventually.  Those hopes were clearly overoptimistic.

The failure of American universities in Japan has not stopped American universities from attempting to export higher education, although it does seem to have taught university administrators a few lessons.  An increasingly popular model now is for American universities to partner with local universities in China, South Korea, and Vietnam, for example.  Thus, schools have found a way to reduce the risk of opening a campus abroad, but will this partnership approach diminish the quality of the university education being exported?

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