Labor, Human Rights Concerns Make Satellite Campuses a Risky Choice

Labor, Human Rights Concerns Make Satellite Campuses a Risky Choice
New York University’s Abu Dhabi campus, March 23, 2012 (photo by Flickr user yuwenmemon licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license).

Earlier this month, a professor from New York University was barred from entering the United Arab Emirates, where the school recently opened a new campus, after he criticized the country’s labor practices. In an email interview, Stephen Wilkins, director of the integrated doctoral program in business and management at Plymouth University and the former director for professional management programs at Dubai University College, discussed the challenges facing satellite campuses of Western universities.

WPR: What are the motivations for establishing satellite campuses of Western universities in places like China and the Persian Gulf, both for the schools and the host countries?

Stephen Wilkins: It is often assumed that the primary motivation for establishing satellite campuses is profit; however, most international campuses do not yield profits for the Western universities. Instead, these universities are more motivated by the prestige and reputational benefits gained from their international presence. Satellite campuses provide a good source of graduate students, as well as study abroad opportunities for students from the home campuses. In addition, Western universities are often attracted by the generous funding offered by the governments in host countries.

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