The survey, based on data from the second half of 2011, found 200 degree-granting international branch campuses, with 37 more expected to open over the next two years. The group found 162 branches in a 2009 survey, and 82 in 2006.
As the focus shifts to Asia, the study found, universities are more likely to create branches by entering into partnerships with local higher-education institutions rather than creating independent entities.
“In two incredibly important markets, China and India, there’s a requirement that the foreign university partner with a local university,” said William Lawton, director of the Observatory. “In China, it seems to be because they want to have Chinese-branded education. But in India, it has more to do with domestic political tensions.”
With so many forms of international arrangements proliferating, Mr. Lawton said, it is becoming harder to decide what should be considered a branch campus. The report covers only degree-granting programs with a physical presence in the foreign country; it does not count online programs, study abroad centers or the common twinning arrangements where students spend two years in one country and two in another.
This year, Mr. Lawton’s group slightly changed its definition so as to include some of the new Asian efforts.
“We found a lot of borderline cases,” he said.
For example, Yale’s new offering in Singapore, designed to be that nation’s first liberal arts college, will be a partnership with the National University of Singapore. Yale is involved in the planning and will have half the seats on the governing board. But the degrees will be awarded solely by Singapore, which previously would have kept it from being counted as a branch campus in the survey.
But while the report counts Yale-Singapore, it does not include Vanderbilt University’s proposed teacher-training facility in Abu Dhabi, where Vanderbilt will design the program and Abu Dhabi will bear the costs. The proposed school would be independently accredited, and Vanderbilt has explicitly said it will not be a branch campus.
Of the 200 operating branches, 78 are connected to American universities, as are a third of the 37 being planned.
Among the planned programs in China are New York University’s liberal arts campus, the University of California, Berkeley’s engineering center, and programs by Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, Kean University and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech are planning programs in India; George Mason and Stony Brook are opening in South Korea; the Berklee College of Music in Spain; and Carnegie Mellon in Rwanda.
The report also found that universities in developing countries are now opening branch campuses in their regions. India, for example, has four campuses in Mauritius.
While the United Arab Emirates still has the most branches (37), the greatest growth has come in China, which has 17 branches now, up from 10 in 2009; and Singapore, which has 18, up from 12.
Over the last decade, as globalization and international rankings have become increasingly important, many American universities have seen branch campuses as a way to bolster their prestige.
And although many university officials like to speak of their international efforts as altruistic contributions to world development, the vast majority are in the Emirates, China, Singapore and South Korea, which pay large sums to attract big-name institutions, and few are in poorer nations in Africa or Latin America.