The Ins and Outs of Going Global
AS YOU'RE READING THIS, I am likely on a plane or trying to stay awake after a 12- or 24-hour journey or a 2 a.m. call with a campus on the other side of the globe. One hallmark of "going global" is lots of travel and lots of jet lag. Another is the exhilaration of being a pioneer-of building new relationships and new outposts, and witnessing the creation of human capital around the world.
The first move for those considering establishing a campus outside the United States is to figure out the motivation behind it. If it is to generate revenue, I can tell you right now that it won't be worth it. Going global must fit within long-term plans and objectives and must align itself with the institutional mission. At <b>New York Institute of Technology</b>, our core mission-offering access to opportunity to all qualified students, providing career-oriented professional education, and supporting research that benefits the larger world-is reinforced as we open campuses abroad and fulfill each call to action that our mission sets forth.
plans and align with
the institution's mission.
But that is just the beginning. The next question you must ask is: Is your institution ready for a global campus? Going global does not mean exporting what you do in the United States, but being ready to transform your school into an entirely new institution.
The answer can't come from a single source. You must get buy-in from everyone-from the board of trustees and the president to faculty and staff, alumni, and yes, the students. Determine how each is affected and how to bring them in as the process unfolds. Ultimately this will involve student and faculty mobility as well as transforming the notion of study abroad from a model of exporting students to a model of a two-way flow of students and faculty between various campuses. Think you have plenty of policies and procedures now? Think again.
Once you build momentum, another early question to address is the model to use: branch campuses with some autonomy, or one institution with multiple locations. At NYIT, we've seen an advantage to the latter. The same academic programs can be offered with the same standards anywhere in the world. The key is putting in place mechanisms to ensure consistency among campuses and encourage faculty at all locations to participate in their new global departments.
Academic departments must figure out creative ways of allowing faculty members to interact with their new global community. This goes well beyond replacing the traditional face-to-face faculty meeting with virtual options. For example, the use of videoconferencing and distance learning, an area that NYIT has experienced success with at its Bahrain campus, must be grounded by faculty at both sites who trust each other and know how to teach across networks and cultures. To get this buy-in, you must be willing to incentivize the participants on both ends.
Once your own house is in order, decide where to go, what partners to choose, and what programs to take on the road. If you go it alone, you'll have maximum flexibility, but also the greatest risk. As with any relationship, a partner enhances part of your life while limiting other options. Seek established partners with good reputations, good relationships with governmental agencies, and if possible, good (and modern) facilities.
Determining the bigger picture-where to go-requires both common and business sense. Locate viable markets where American-style education is needed and wanted, and where the government and its agencies understand the value of having a U.S. institution in their mix. Focus on markets in which English is spoken as a second language, where students are ready to be taught in English, and where English-speaking adjuncts and staff are available for hire. Having said all of this, rational decision-making only takes us so far. Go where you have an opportunity to work with institutions you trust and where you think there is an institutional "fit," but go with a business plan in hand.
So what's the key to success in going global? As in any relationship, it's communication, communication, communication. And while technology doesn't replace face-to-face interaction, international cell phones and virtual networks are essential. Purchase long-distance service in bulk, visit your outposts as often as you can, and remember to sleep when-and if-you are able.
<em>Wm. Cyrus Reed is vice president for Global Academic Programs at New York Institute of Technology, which was recently cited as a "leading globalizer" in higher education by</em> The New York Times. <em>NYIT has locations in Bahrain, Jordan, Abu Dhabi, China, Canada, and Brazil.</em>