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Mapping cross-border provision of higher education in the EU

A new study shows that cross-border higher education affects only a very small minority of students within the EU, but it is on an upward curve.

 

The study maps the intensity and spread of the cross-border provision of higher education through franchising and validation agreements and the establishment of branch campuses. It also looks at whether and how Member States regulate this, and into issues of quality assurance.

The study finds that levels of cross-border provision of higher education are highest where outgoing student mobility is also high. This might suggest that insufficient domestic supply, limited to demand in specific areas, might be an important factor behind the increase in this kind of educational arrangement.

Levels of regulation vary among the Member States, and mainly concern incoming operators; countries tend not to regulate the 'export' of higher education. There is an overall lack of hard evidence as to the effects on quality. In terms of perception of the phenomenon, Ministries and quality assurance agencies tend to be rather neutral with regard to both benefits and perceived risks; providers tend to perceive fewer risks and more benefits, whilst rectors' conferences and umbrella organisations tend to see fewer benefits. Findings in the study suggest that a potentially fruitful field of action would relate to improving quality assurance of this type of provision of higher education.