University outlines plan to extend academics globally

The University is redoubling efforts to expand globally through degree partnerships, opting to follow a different model than most colleges, in a bid to further on-campus research efforts and expand academics.

In conjunction with this year’s development of a strategic plan for the institution, the University will decide what areas of the world to concentrate efforts on. Recent pushes have targeted Africa, Brazil and India.

Though universities have traditionally gone global by establishing individual branch campuses in international locations, GW administrators are seeking to create more degree offerings worldwide – rather than just exchanges – by making ties with existing institutions abroad.

Donna Scarboro, associate provost for the Office of International Programs, said while the University’s “global activities are becoming increasingly robust and visible as GW grows in stature,” it has not been able to find “a brick and mortar plan that fits” up until recently.

“We don’t need international partnerships for their own sake, they have to work for us and make sense. Otherwise, they are a distraction from our goals,” Scarboro said.

In making financial investments, Scarboro said the University looks carefully at how the program will contribute to its academics and reputation. International visits are funded by a combination of endowment, international scholar stipends and alumni outreach resources.

Globalization among universities tends to favor a more centralized approach that means installing homegrown campuses internationally and employing their own faculty.

At New York University, a “portal campus” was established in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates in 2010. The strictly NYU campus is considered part of the university network and accepts fewer than 200 students annually.

John Sexton, president of NYU, said a personalized campus allows for stronger organization with academic units abroad.

“The product is more than an internationalized university with loose connections between a central location and branches around the globe,” Sexton said in a statement. “The talent and assets, intellectual and otherwise, physically located primarily in one part of the system become fully available to enhance research and learning in every other part.”

International partnerships arise through the interests and outreach of faculty, deans and students, Scarboro said. The partnerships could be with foreign think tanks, laboratories and corporations in addition to universities.

While offering students and faculty more options for international study, officials also hope the collaborations will strengthen GW’s image globally.

“Typically, GW partners with institutions that can provide the infrastructure necessary to further our research agenda, provide the cultural immersion and academic resources students need and connect us to the knowledge communities of another country,” Scarboro said.

The GW School of Business forged a partnership in China last month, offering Chinese students the chance to work towardsa master’s of science in finance at Renmin University in Suzhou.

Meanwhile, the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences will hold an ongoing Chinese speech competition Nov. 6 in which three winners will receive a full scholarship to complete a master’s degree at Nanjing University in China.

“For GW, the contest solidifies an existing relationship with Nanjing University and the Jiangsu International Cultural Exchange Center, which we hope will lead to future collaborations,” contest manager Taorun Sun said.

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