Universities Rethinking Global Expansion

Friday, October 14, 2011

Pierre Du Jardin has infused his office at Suffolk University with the flavor of Senegal. Wooden masks hang on the walls, and Du Jardin’s soft accent evokes the official French language of the country. But if his 104 African students, all new to Boston this semester, do not feel quite at home on campus, it is hard to blame them.

They would not be here at all if Suffolk had not closed its branch campus in Senegal last spring.

Suffolk closed the satellite campus after losing about $10 million on the venture. It would be far less expensive in the long run, the college figured, to move its Senegal students to Boston.

The shutdown is the latest of many. Over the last decade, universities spurred by dreams of global cachet - and, sometimes, by foreign governments eager to underwrite them - built or rented whole campuses and offered Western-style education abroad. But now some schools are running out of cash as they struggle to attract enough students and develop a viable business model.

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