Kai Ryssdal: There’s a big push in higher education at the moment to get bigger. Globally bigger, in fact. So to build their brands — and in the process collect more tuition — American universities have opened branch campuses in Europe and China, the Middle East, and soon Rwanda. Carnegie Mellon University’s going to start offering graduate engineering degrees in the capital of Kigali.
From the Marketplace Education Desk at WYPR in Baltimore, Amy Scott reports.
Amy Scott: Rwanda is still recovering from the 1994 genocide, which left 800,000 people dead and the economy in ruins. It’s staking its economic comeback on technology. The Rwandan government will foot the bill for the new Carnegie Mellon campus to help train the next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs.
Pradeep Khosla is dean of engineering at Carnegie Mellon. He says the university’s investment, in dollars, is zero.
Pradeep Khosla: But in terms of bringing its name, reputation, pedagogy, faculty — that’s our contribution.
The first class of 40 or so students starts next year. They’ll pay what students Pittsburgh in pay — roughly $38,000 a year. Khosla says financial aid will help cover that.
Some efforts at international education have failed. Michigan State and George Mason have closed programs in the United Arab Emirates. But Carnegie Mellon isn’t expecting its new campus to be a money-maker.
Ben Wildavsky: You could look at establishing a presence in Africa as almost a form of philanthropy.
Ben Wildavsky wrote “The Great Brain Race” about international education.
Wildavsky: They’re going to be helping a modest number of students in Rwanda, which certainly could use this kind of help. But at the same time, they’re establishing that Carnegie Mellon is a global player. It cares about the developing world.
Wildavsky says the challenge for the university will be to deliver the same quality it offers at home.
I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.