Branching Out: International Branch Campus | Top Universities

Branching Out: International Branch Campus

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Moynaa Aparajit

Updated Jan 05, 2015



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International Branch campus is a term being used more often these days, along with the phrase “transnational education”. But what are branch campuses, and why study at one of them?

Branch campuses are basically higher education institutions run by a university based in a different country. For example, France’s Paris Sorbonne University runs a campus in Abu Dhabi, the US’s Cornell University has one in Qatar, and the UK’s University of Nottingham has campuses in Malaysia and China.

There are around 200 branch campuses across the world (and more being added every year), but Asia and the Gulf region have been identified as particular branch campus hot spots.

More about international branch campuses >

Whether you want to stay closer to home or study abroad, branch campuses are an option worth pursuing. Here’s why:

Academic standards

One of the major selling points is that academic standards are expected to be high and of a similar quality to the main campus of the university running the branch campus – but in a different location, and often a lower cost.


  • Don’t expect entry requirements to be lower just because it’s a branch campus. To maintain standards it’s important that the selection process is similar, if not the same, as the main campus.
  • Check the accreditation of the course offered at the branch campus, to make sure it’s compatible with employment in the country you want to work in. With degrees such as law and medicine, the qualifications required are often country-specific and may not be easily transferable.

Cultural experience of Transnational Education

Cultural experience is a big part of transnational education, and the diversity this brings. If you are going to a branch campus in a country other than your own, you still get to meet people from different backgrounds and have a unique experience. 


  • Bear in mind that most courses will be taught in English.
  • Check whether there are opportunities to spend a year or semester at the university’s main campus, which will give you the chance to broaden your cultural experience even more.

Fees and living costs

For most students, finance is among the biggest concerns when looking at studying abroad. Tuition fees and living costs are often lower at a international branch campus compared to the main campus of the university, which makes it more attractive for local students wishing to have a global experience. 

Tip: If you’re attending a branch campus in your own country, it may be easier for you to access student loans and grants than if you were abroad. So you’ll still get an ‘international’ experience and the same quality of teaching, but at a lower cost and with more financial support. There’s also no student visa hassle to deal with!

In addition to the benefits for individual students, branch campuses also have advantages for countries. With many nations facing ‘brain drain’, a international branch campus can mean retaining more top students. In addition, healthy competition tends to lead to an increase in standards at other local universities – in turn benefitting students.

In short, a international branch campus is one more option to consider, amongst the huge range of options available to students today’s globalized world – and definitely worth exploring.