First British branch campus in West Africa announced

The UK-based Lancaster University is to open a branch campus in Ghana this year – believed to be the first British branch campus in West Africa and the second in Africa.

Lancaster University Ghana is a collaboration between Lancaster University and the Ghana-based company Trans National Education (TNE) Limited, and was announced on 14 April. The campus will be in East Legon in the capital Accra.

Geraint Johnes, a professor of economics and dean of graduate studies at Lancaster, told University World News that the university regarded Ghana as “a hugely important investment.

“The potential for further development in the country – and indeed in the broader region – is vast, and Ghana is well placed to provide us with a substantial geographical footprint within Africa.

“A small intake of students is expected to start their studies later this year, and we expect substantial growth in student numbers from 2014 onwards as we broaden provision to cover a wide range of subjects across the arts, sciences, social sciences and management."

Study programmes will lead to degrees awarded by Lancaster University.

Ghana Business News quoted TNE founder Rakesh Wahi as saying the campus was the company’s first education venture in West Africa and that the group’s vision was to create a network of branch campuses offering quality teaching, infrastructure and research.

British branch campuses worldwide

According to Global Higher Education’s Branch Campus Listing, the new campus will be the second British branch campus in Africa and follows the establishment of De Montfort University in South Africa – although that campus closed in 2004.

It lists 16 UK-based universities, which (including the new campus in Ghana) have set up 21 branch campuses in nine countries including Australia, China, Ghana, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa, the United Arab Emirates and Uzbekistan.

The UK higher education institutions include the universities of Bolton, Bradford, De Montfort, Exeter, Herriot-Watt, Lancaster, Middlesex, Newcastle, Nottingham, Queen Margareth and Surrey, and CASS Business School, London School of Business, Manchester Business School, University College London and Westminster International University.

Lancaster University is currently ranked 12th in the UK’s Good Universities Guide and at number nine in the Times Higher Education top 100 Under 50 table of the world’s best young universities. It was in the top five in the National Student Survey.

A network of overseas teaching partnerships is a key component of Lancaster’s global outreach and internationalisation programmes. Its degrees are offered in collaboration with local institutions in India, Malaysia and Pakistan, and Lancaster also plans to open a campus in China.

Awaiting approval in Ghana

Victoria Tyrrell, of the Lancaster University press office, told University World News that the campus in Accra was awaiting approval by Ghana's national accreditation board and would officially launch once approval had been achieved. It is expected to start enrolling students in October.

The new university will offer undergraduate courses in management, business, politics and international relations, computer science, law and psychology, its global masters in business administration, and other postgraduate and foundation programmes in IT, business and the social sciences.

A Lancaster fact sheet on the new campus said it would enable students across Africa to access Lancaster’s academic excellence in teaching and research, and academics who worked to “high international standards”.

Students would be able to study for part of their degree at Lancaster University, up to a full academic year, and would receive the same degree certificate as offered in the UK, with the transcript indicating the location of study for each module.

The campus would draw on both local and UK staff, with British academics teaching most of the postgraduate modules and also working as guest lecturers or co-teachers on undergraduate courses. Local staff would undertake certified development programmes both in Ghana and in the UK, with support provided by a staff development fund.

“Students studying at one of Lancaster’s overseas campuses may take part in summer schools based at Lancaster University. This offers the chance to network, study and learn about a different culture,” said the fact sheet.

"Lancaster University Ghana will be the only one of its kind in West Africa, developing into a major teaching and research university of international standing. The campus is also open to students from other West African countries and offers them a new UK higher education opportunity on the African continent.”

Mark Smith, vice-chancellor of Lancaster, was quoted as saying the new campus would “contribute to increasing the pool of internationally educated young people, ready to take their places in developing and growing the Ghanaian and wider African economy.

“It will join existing institutions of higher education to further enhance Ghana's reputation as an educational hub for West Africa.”