UB Plans to Branch-Out Overseas with New Programs and Campuses

Overseas programs help U.S. universities enroll students confronted with post 9/11 visa restrictions

Release Date: April 15, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Faced with possible declines in international-student enrollments due to strict post-9/11 student-visa regulations, the University at Buffalo is among several U.S. institutions reaching out to international students by establishing new programs and campuses on international soil.

UB, which has three decades' experience offering overseas education programs, in June will launch a full-fledged undergraduate business administration program in Singapore in cooperation with the Singapore Institute of Management, where UB has offered an Executive MBA program since 1996.

About 80 students have applied so far to the undergraduate business administration program in Singapore, which will be taught entirely in English, and primarily by UB faculty, according to Stephen C. Dunnett, vice provost for international education at UB. Graduates will earn a UB degree.

UB, the largest and most comprehensive campus in the State University of New York, intends to grow its undergraduate business program in Singapore to 480 students over the next four years. It also plans to offer other undergraduate degree programs, such as communication, computer science and engineering in the following years, Dunnett says.

By 2007, as many as 1,500 international students could be enrolled at what then will be a UB campus in Singapore. Tuition and fees for the UB Singapore program initially will amount to $34,281 per student for the entire eight-semester program.

"Originally we envisioned recruiting students mostly from Singapore, but now we're expanding our efforts to draw from countries from throughout Southeast Asia in hopes of enrolling students who might not be able to get to Buffalo," Dunnett says.

UB also is considering offering an undergraduate program in Beijing, where it currently offers two Executive MBA programs, and is investigating possible programs in Kuwait.

Such "off-shore" efforts partly are an attempt by U.S. colleges and universities to recruit international students who cannot, or find it difficult to, enroll at U.S. institutions because of new visa regulations restricting enrollments from certain countries and into certain academic disciplines, Dunnett says.

More importantly, creation of new overseas programs are a way for U.S. educators to continue providing international students with educational experiences that will instill lifelong goodwill toward the U.S. and foster good relations with host countries, he adds.

"Without these programs, we lose the opportunity to influence a new generation of foreign leaders who won't have had an educational experience in the U.S. to shape their attitudes toward us," Dunnett says. "I worry how this would affect U.S. international relations 20 years from now."

UB alumni in prominent international leadership roles include, for example, Zhou Ji, China's minister of education and Huh Sung-kwan, head of the Republic of Korea's Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs. Both men earned degrees from UB in the 1980s.

Dunnett points out that a nationwide decline in international enrollment also would mean a loss of valuable human capital on U.S. campuses. Research universities like UB would lose the opportunity to recruit talented students to staff their research labs. International students with highly desirable technological and scientific skills, who may have opted to pursue careers in the U.S. after graduation, would apply their talents elsewhere.

Local communities, too, would experience an economic hit from lost dollars spent by international students unable to study in the U.S.

Dunnett hopes some of the students enrolled in UB's Singapore program one day will transfer to the UB campus or enroll in a graduate program at UB.

Although U.S. overseas programs have been around since the 1980s, he expects them to become increasingly popular over the next few years. In some cases they offer students an affordable opportunity to earn a U.S. degree (factoring in money saved from exchange rates and the expense of traveling and living abroad) without having to undergo the visa process.

"Middle Eastern countries in particular offer opportunities for U.S. colleges and universities," Dunnett says, "especially the United Arab Emirates, which has instituted a kind of free-trade education zone in Dubai -- called Knowledge Village -- to attract investment from foreign institutions and businesses."

The rise of overseas programs has led higher-education accreditation bodies to begin looking more closely at these programs to ensure that U.S. institutions are not engaged in "franchising" -- the practice of offering overseas programs associated with a U.S. institution in name only, without significant institutional oversight or contribution, Dunnett notes.

Overseas ventures, he points out, have the added benefit of "globalizing" faculty who teach in these programs, and provide additional overseas study locations for U.S. students.

"These experiences fundamentally change the world view of faculty and students," he says. "When they return to the U.S. they enrich our campuses with their global perspectives."

Post-9/11 fears have not deterred American students from studying abroad, he adds.

At UB and other campuses nationwide, participation in study-abroad programs is "growing faster than ever," he says, "due in part to their realization that to effectively deal with global problems and build a safer world, Americans need to leave the insular comfort of home and learn firsthand about the rest of the world."

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