Branching Out

International campuses are becoming a growing part of institutions’ overall internationalization strategies.
Photo: Courtesy George Mason University
Mark Toner

When mechanical engineering student Aria Amthor flew to France to spend a semester at Georgia Tech’s campus in Lorraine, France, in the spring of 2018, she had never left North America—or traveled on a plane alone. But as she spent her free weekends traveling around Europe, Amthor became immersed in another kind of engineering: travel by train.

“I have a running theory that the ideal sample of a European country can be found in its public transportation,” Amthor wrote in a blog post about her travels. Among her observations, she noted that “the Italians sang and played guitar, the Germans passed around beer, and on one train the French were so utterly silent, I was too self-conscious to eat a sandwich.”

Located in the heart of Europe, the Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus provided Amthor with close access to her train travel routes but also a home base to reflect on her cross-cultural insights. Georgia Tech is one of more than 50 U.S. institutions that have established international branch campuses around the world. With this increase, there has been growing recognition that these programs are more than revenue generators for their home campuses. In recent years, branch campuses from U.S. institutions have become more strategic and international, as institutions from beyond the English-speaking world launch satellite campuses of their own.

Given the highly competitive environment of higher education, branch campuses in targeted regions amplify institutions’ prestige and attract students in new and growing markets. In some cases, these campuses are part of an overarching

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