Chapter 11: Branches, Hubs, and Hybrids: Trends in International Higher Education Models

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John Howe, PhD, Associate Dean of Students, University of South Dakota, USA

January 8, 2018

Reflections on Chapter 11: Branches, Hubs, and Hybrids: Trends in International Higher Education Models

From Supporting Students Globally in Higher Education
This blog post is part of an ongoing series responding to chapters within a recent NASPA book about student services in a global context. Please see the brief blog entry for more information or opportunities to blog and get involved.  

Stryker, Witt, and Konecny’s chapter begins by summarizing the global growth of campus and international educational partnerships. This rise of branch, hub, and hybrid campuses has conversely led to the growth in the need for student affairs and services internationally as well as a more global perspective of our work in serving students.

The authors also provide clear definitions for various models of cross-border educational institutions to ensure readers are able to understand these global trends, including international branch campus, education hub, replica campus, and hybrid student affairs program. While the benefits of global educational exchange were presented (increased access to education, potential for improved labor market for host country, student familiarity to local context), the authors also addressed critiques (such as concerns about instructional quality, mission creep, or worries that education would be viewed as a commodity) in this chapter. While these ventures increase educational access globally, Stryker, Witt, and Konecny (2016) also recognize that “countries with fewer resources and institutions that are resource poor have limited opportunities to benefit from the international engagement and exposure that TNE [transnational education] institutions provide” (pp. 221-222).

While the authors are all student affairs professionals at global campuses, they also acknowledged their training and influence through a Western educational lens. A great strength of this chapter is that the authors sought feedback on the challenges and opportunities of internationalization by interviewing student affairs and services professionals from China, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Singapore, and Malaysia. The added perspective of these national and expatriate student affairs and services professionals added increased depth to this chapter as they offered diverse and unique perspectives. One of the individuals interviewed by the authors (2016) shared the following:

Sometimes I think you just have to develop a whole new way of thinking, a whole new way to approach things. You have to take what you know and reframe it so that it works for the culture you are in and not because it worked the culture you came from. It has to fit with the students you are with right here and now – in this moment with this culture. (pp. 230-231).

This is the continued challenge and opportunity presented throughout this text: how does a profession largely rooted in Western theory and practice transform in this time of global educational growth. As a foundational tenet of student affairs professionals is the value of and belief in the unique individual, this transformation is critical.

Questions to ponder:

  • In reviewing the literature for this chapter, Stryker, Witt, and Konecny (2016) cite a seminal document from UNESCO (Students Affairs and Services In Higher Education: Global Foundations, Issues and Best Practices), regarding “basic values and principles that are pertinent to the development of an effective higher education student affairs/services operation regardless of one’s location” (Ludeman, Osfield, Hidalgo, Oste, & Wang, 2009, p. 5).
    • What do you believe these foundational values and principles of the profession to be?
  • The authors raise concerns about the commoditization of higher education.
    • How does this view of higher education as a service impact student affairs and services domestically and globally?
  • NASPA now has two areas representing global members (MENASA – Middle East, North Africa, South Asia; LAC – Latin America and Caribbean). Many European nations are located in Region I and II while other countries are found in Region III and VI. Region III, for example, is comprised of 11 southern states, Armenia, Bulgaria, Japan, Kenya, South Africa, and Taiwan.
    • How might NASPA better address the unique perspectives of international partners and make sure their voices are heard at the table?
  • In 2009, George Washington University closed their branch campus in the Raz Al-Khaimah, United Arab Emirates citing accreditation concerns. Further information is found from this Inside Higher Education article linked below: (
    • What lessons might be learned to ensure success of future global educational partnerships?


  • Ludeman, R., Osfield, K., Hidalgo, E.I., Oste, D., Wang, H. (2009).  Student affairs and services in higher education: Global foundations, issues and best practices.  Paris, France: United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.
  • Stryker, J. C., Witt, E., & Konecny, K. S, (2016). Branches, hubs, and hybrids: Trends in international higher education models. In K. J. Osfield, B. Perozzi, L. B. Moscaritolo, & R. Shea (Eds.), Trends and perspectives for student affairs and services: Supporting students globally in higher education (pp. 213-235). NASPA: Washington, D. C.

Author Biography
John Howe was born in India, reared in Germany, and worked as an educator in Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, India, and Afghanistan. He serves as Associate Dean of Students at the University of South Dakota. 

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