International Branch Campus Quality in a Segmented Quality Assurance Environment
November 01, 2012
This policy paper addresses the question of how well quality assurance systems support the quality of international branch campuses (IBCs) in the United Arab Emirates. There are different systems of quality assurance for IBCs in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Ras Al Khaimah, and a federal system of accreditation that is unevenly utilized across the emirates. Furthermore, the UAE’s 38 IBCs hail from 13 countries, each with its own procedures for regulating branch campus quality.* This complexity results in a segmented quality assurance environment with different quality assurance models applied to the UAE’s branch campuses.
This qualitative study is based on interviews with 47 IBC stakeholders conducted in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, and Ras Al Khaimah from January to April 2012. The paper begins with an overview of the dimensions of quality in higher education and a description of how the UAE’s current quality assurance systems approach quality assurance. The paper then presents the study’s findings on stakeholders’ perceptions of IBC quality assurance in the UAE. Finally, recommendations aimed at improving the alignment between quality assurance and stakeholders’ expectations for IBC quality are presented.
*This count is based on the author’s analysis of comprehensive listings of international branch campuses produced by the Cross-Border Education Research Team (CBERT) (2012) and the Observatory on Borderless Higher Education (OBHE) (Lawton & Katsomitros, 2012). However, there are variations in the definition of IBCs and noted difficulty in coming to agreement on a universal definition (see Cox, 2012; Kinser & Lane, 2012; Lawton & Katsomitros, 2012).