A UK university is to open a campus in Bangkok – in what is claimed as the first such UK branch university to be established in Thailand.
The University of Central Lancashire has signed a deal with a Thai-based entrepreneur to open a university campus in Bangkok in 2014.
Degrees will be taught in English and validated by the UK university.
This will be the latest example of universities “globalising” with overseas branches.
It follows a path set by the University of Nottingham which set up a branch university in China.
The greatest concentration of such branch universities, from UK and US universities, has been in Asia and the Gulf states.
Newcastle University is establishing a medical school in Malaysia, where Nottingham also has a campus. University College London has a campus in Qatar.
The announcement of the University of Central Lancashire’s plans will give this “new” university an international identity and an opportunity to expand.
The University of Central Lancashire’s vice-chancellor, Malcolm McVicar, said its market research showed “strong demand” for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in Thailand.
Thailand has been identified as a hub for South East Asia, which it expects to be a “key area for future global growth”.
The UK university will invest £7.5m and will work alongside the entrepreneur Sitichai Charoenkajonkul.
There are other UK universities which have partnerships with universities in Thailand, but the University of Central Lancashire is claiming to be the first from the UK to set up a full university there.
It expects to have 5,000 students in 10 years and will offer courses in areas such as business, built and natural environment, engineering, creative and performing arts and languages.
Kevin Van-Cauter, higher education adviser at the British Council, says this is part of an increasing pattern of globalisation in higher education.
Setting up overseas branches allows universities to “establish a global brand”, he says.
The physical presence of a campus can also be presented as a bigger commitment to a region than the more widespread partnership arrangements, he suggests.
Such branch campuses can be used to attract students from across the wider region, he says.
Overseas universities in South East Asia might recruit students from China, Vietnam and Malaysia and further afield, such as the Middle East and North Africa, he says.
There are US universities which have set up chains of overseas campuses in several different countries.