The International Branch Campus and and Institutional Social Capital
Exploring the Spatial Dimensions of Capital in Transnational Higher Education
The number of international branch campuses (IBCs) has continued to increase over the past few decades. Despite this increase, empirical research is lacking when it comes to the social implications for both the institutions engaged in transnational higher education through the development of IBCs and the students participating in these degree programs. The students studying at international branch campuses are both local and international, undertaking an international education without venturing overseas. The purpose of this study is to understand how students who have studied and are currently studying at an IBC narrate their experiences and expectations from transnational higher education, particularly focusing on the development and manifestation of institutional social capital and students’ ability to use this social capital in their specific local contexts. Through a pilot study employing semi-structured one-on-one interviews and focus group interactions with current students and alumni of an American IBC in Singapore, it is found that enrollment at IBC is mostly a feature of lack of access to one of the local universities, which hold the highest status. However, for some students with an interest in pursuing jobs or graduate studies overseas, earning an American degree is seen as a way to enhance their career prospects. The development of a strong alumni group in Singapore is highlighted as a way to increase the value of the degree in the Singapore context.
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