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The role of international strategic alliances in higher education: a New Zealand perspective


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In the early stages of internationalisation, universities have typically focused on international student recruitment and accumulating large numbers of bilateral international university partnerships. Often these partnerships had little strategic value other than as a response to pressure to internationalise. Frequently these partnerships went no further than signatures on a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and were not operationalised in any way. While the stated intent of such MoUs was often promoting research collaboration and cooperation, this was rarely communicated to the faculty members who could have made this a reality. In recent years, a number of global university networks have been established, many of which now have waiting lists of potential members. This session will provide an overview of the different types of university networks and institutional partnerships being established across the world and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the alternative models. It will also consider the benefits associated with membership of a global network, as opposed to institutions developing alliances with a more specific focus. Additionally, institutional strategies aimed at encouraging widespread participation and involvement in these partnerships across the university and beyond the international office will be discussed.

Asia-Pacific Association for International Education (APAIE) 5th Annual Conference, Griffith University, Brisbane, April 2010

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The role of international strategic alliances in higher education: a New Zealand perspective

  1. 1. Asia Pacific Association for International Education 2010The role of international strategic alliances inhigher education: a New Zealand perspective Professor Nigel Healey Pro-Vice-Chancellor, University of Canterbury
  2. 2. Overview of Part I  Strategic Alliances 101  Forms of international cooperation – Uppsala vs non-commercial  Benefits and costs of each form  Small or large networks?  Conclusions Gold Coast 2010
  3. 3. Forms of international cooperation  Uppsala sequencing model drawn from the literature on the internationalisation of  Exporting The  Licensing production ‘third  Joint ventures/strategic alliances wave’  Foreign direct investment  How well does higher education fit this model? Gold Coast 2010
  4. 4. The Uppsala sequence in higher education  Exporting educational services = providing education to foreign students by teaching students on home campus or „pure‟ distance learning‟  Licensing production = licensing a foreign partner - “McDonaldization” of higher education  Third wave = offshore campuses, part– or wholly-owned by universities, for-profit providers riding third wave through acquisitions (Doha trade round) Gold Coast 2010
  5. 5. How useful is this model for explaining universities’ international cooperation?  Universities mix of public, not-for-profit and for-profit  Uppsala explains the behaviour of for-profit universities and “mixed systems” like UK, Australia and New – public universities with “private” dimensions  Does not capture other dimensions of universities‟ activities in terms of mission, government policy, non- commercial goals  Excludes cooperative activities in terms of:  Faculty and student exchange  Joint teaching programmes  Research partnerships Gold Coast 2010
  6. 6. Benefits and costs of Uppsala partnership-based cooperation (1)  Franchising  Benefit: income generating  Cost: seen as exploitative, principal-agent problems, misaligned strategic goals, time-limited  Third Wave  Benefit: income generating, reach new student markets; build brand internationally  Cost: high risk, often built on faulty business models, potential reputational damage Gold Coast 2010
  7. 7. Benefits and costs of non-commercial partnership-based cooperation (2)  Student/faculty exchange  Benefit: creates international learning opportunities  Cost: expensive, may get little meaningful  Dual degrees  Benefit: income generating, reach new student markets; build brand internationally  Cost: high risk, misalignment of partners‟ objectives, quality assurance issues  Research partnerships  Benefit: economies of scale/scope, brand/profile  Costs: top-down, little real collaboration Gold Coast 2010
  8. 8. Bilateral versus multilateral cooperation  Increasing economies of scale and scope  “A single thread can’t make a chord, nor a single tree a forest” 一个线程不能引起了共鸣,也没有一棵树的森林  versus…  …increasing coordination and management costs  Parallel is between bilateral free trade agreements and multilateral trade negotiations (eg, New Zealand – China FTA versus WTO Doha Round) Gold Coast 2010
  9. 9. Multilateral cooperation: an economist’s perspective $ Marginal cost (coordination costs) standardisation Marginal (economies of scale) Costs of research equipment, faculty communication technologies, standardisation size of network N* Gold Coast 2010
  10. 10. Multilateral cooperation: a management perspective High “Country Club” “Investment Bank” Low Coordination “Boutique” “Fast Food” Low Economies of scale High Gold Coast 2010
  11. 11. Multilateral cooperation: a management perspective High Socrates Universitas 21 Low Coordination UMAP Laureate LSE/NYU/HKU Astronomy Low Economies of scale High Gold Coast 2010
  12. 12. Conclusions  The increase of international partnerships partly explained by sequential model of internationalisation…  …but range of other motives for partnerships in terms of universities‟ missions  Good partnerships can transform learning experience for students, open up new possibilities for collaborative research  Need to be managed carefully to ensure return on investment, not presidents‟ vanity  Final thought: is global warming a growing threat to traditional models of international partnership? Gold Coast 2010