From “campus-hopping” to transnational education, the landscape of global study has changed dramatically over the last decade. While some students bring the curricula of their home universities with them as they travel the world, others stay home and have international education exported to them. Read on to learn about the latest trends in study abroad.

Global Education Today

Gone are the days when a “global education” meant spending your junior year abroad. In Extreme Study Abroad, The World is Their Campus (The New York Times, October 30, 2015), Claire Cain Miller charts the evolution of international study in recent years, introducing a new breed of students who reject the typical university experience in favor of foreign “campus hopping”. If this sounds like a strategy better suited to jetsetters than undergraduates, consider this: not only does this educational model prepare students to live and work in a real world that is increasingly global, but tuition for an international program can be as low as $23,000 a year before travel costs (the annual fee for the Minerva Schools, with outposts in Bangalore, Berlin, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, London and Seoul, is $22,950). The more expensive programs are those that own and operate their own campuses abroad: while Minerva leases residential halls and holds classes in public venues, Webster University ($50,000 a year) has physical schools in Thailand, Italy, Africa, Switzerland, Vienna, London, the Netherlands and Greece.

The Transcontinental Student

What kind of undergraduate chooses to spend most of university abroad? Administrators observe that their “campus hopping” students are notable for their “maturity, curiosity, adventurousness, flexibility and openness.” Their interests are more multinational, but that does not necessarily make them students of diplomacy or international affairs: the curriculum available at Minerva, for example, is no more weighted toward foreign studies or language courses than that of any regular university, because it is the experience of culture-immersed learning that prepares them to be citizens of the world. Minerva’s founding dean Stephen Kosslyn believes that a global education equips students for the challenges of a global economy, helping them “adapt to jobs that don’t even exist yet.”

Other international universities like LIU Global emphasize the “abroad” aspect of study abroad, showcasing minors in international relations and social entrepreneurship. LIU Global’s emphasis is on “experiential programming that takes local reality as the curriculum’s living textbook”. In practice, this programming could involve experiences ranging from leading rainforest treks with Costa Rican youth groups to educating Chinese kids on climate change and sustainable agriculture.

Whether a global student opts for a traditional or more internationally focused course load, their international immersion will expand on their versatility, resilience and communication skills – while introducing them to a concept of community that extends far beyond the typical college campus.

Transnational Education

What about students who want the benefits of an international education without leaving home? Dubbed “glocals” by Rahul Choudaha in a Guardian article titled The Rise of ‘Glocal’ students and Transnational Education, these students want to fulfill their global aspirations through local experiences. In particular, they want the educational quality and career opportunities of foreign programs without the expense and upheaval of studying abroad.

Transnational education (TNE) meets the needs of such students by importing educational resources from established universities in the US, UK, Australia, Germany and others. Though TNE started as the unilateral delivery of educational support to developing countries, it has grown into a more fluid cultural exchange. This shift is partially due to the rise in globally minded students like the aforementioned “campus-hoppers,” who prefer to get their education on the road at branch campuses in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Nigeria and beyond.

Vangelis Tsiligirlis addresses this evolution in Transnational Education 2.0, an article in the University World News. Establishing that early TNE efforts involved the “replication of a home programme in an offshore location,” he encourages a two-way process where institutions collaborate on cross-cultural curricula. Examples of this “more meaningful internationalisation” include the teaching of Bahasa (the official language of Indonesia) at the Indonesia-affiliated University of Turku in Finland and the creation of high-quality hybrids like Yale-NUS, a collaboration between Yale University and the National University of Singapore that is one of very few liberal arts colleges in Asia.

What’s Next?

Considering how dramatically global education has grown over the last quarter century, it’s likely that universities will continue to develop and diversify their internationalisation strategies, which already include branch campuses, collaborative partnerships, dual degree exchange programs, video seminars, MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and other adaptations. Some observers believe that the next wave of innovation will involve the use of Virtual Reality; others feel that the focus will be on students and the personalisation of learning. Most agree that the “franchise” or “replica” model of international education will increasingly be replaced by a dynamic network that fosters global citizenship in its students while supporting prosperity in local economies.

If you liked this piece, you may also want to read our blog on: Where are Today's International Students Going for Their Education. In addition to this, you will find a lot more interesting and helpful information for international study on our blog

About the Author: Julia Clinger is an American writer who has lived in Germany and Switzerland. Currently an advertising copywriter in Boston, Massachusetts, she is the author of It Happened in Boston (TwoDot, 2007)  and has worked abroad for EF (Education First), EF Academy and Hult International Business School.