New Business Opportunities

Micro-HuB:   A Low Risk Scalable TNE Solution

Many UK universities are looking at how to increase the number and the quality of the TNE partnerships they are developing.  CCG were asked by a Russell Group university client to develop a scalable model, that would take advantage of their new online provision and take it into a campus TNE environment.  We have developed the Micro-Hub model, which the QA team has approved, and which we presented to potential partners in October 2018.  We have received considerable interest and believe it may be something other UK universities would like to consider.

The Background

Market conditions, including the threat posed by BREXIT, the increased competition for international students from markets like Canada and Australia, and the government’s attitude to student visas coupled with the current demographic contraction in the UK make the student recruitment market far more challenging than it has been in the past.

If UK universities are to continue to grow (or even maintain) student numbers they need to find innovative ways of doing this.  For some, this means the development of more partnerships with universities around the world that will allow for the delivery of dual degree programmes, for others it means the development of new delivery models for courses, such as the development of a more comprehensive online provision.

The approach to increasing student numbers differs from institution to institution. As a company we are constantly looking at possible new models that could be developed to allow for the effective development of TNE provision.

In developing the concept of the Micro-Hub we have looked at key drivers for our university clients, key barriers that may exist, along with other innovative models that have been developed by universities in other parts of the world.  In consultation with our Russell Group university client who had specific QA policies for overseas delivery of its programmes, with universities across Europe and the CIS and a leading US provider of online education we have developed the Micro-Hub model.

The Micro-Hub idea will offer universities the chance to quickly develop partnerships that will allow the university to target students in particular local markets who would be interested in earning a degree from a UK university, but who for whatever reason would not be able to come to the UK to study.  It looks to address some of the key concerns around quality assurance and student experience while addressing the commercial drivers and concerns that are important for any project to work.

The Micro-Hub Solution

The Micro Hub concept aims to address some of the key issues that UK universities who are nervous of traditional “in county delivery” of TNE provision, while at the same time offering private universities in international markets a commercial opportunity for developing their business.

The concept is based on a private university in a geographic region offering a UK university physical space in which they can establish a branded centre, with the necessary infrastructure for the delivery of online degree programmes, supported academically by a local partner.

The UK university could offer both UG and PG courses through their online platform to students studying in the Micro-Hub.  The UK university could also supplement this with some form of block teaching or local teaching resources if felt appropriate.  However, the local partner would not have academic responsibility for the programme.

The local university would be responsible for the “student experience” by that we mean the student would be able to avail themselves of all non-academic services (pastoral support, accommodation, library etc.) and would be included in the wider student family of the university. The local university would also be responsible for all marketing and recruitment of students.

I should stress that this idea is in development, and while we have the first UK university signed up to develop such opportunities, the model is flexible and can be altered to suit the individual requirements.  This idea will only work for universities who have developed quality online provision.

The programme fees would be set on a market by market basis, meaning that local students could be targeted, as this model is unlikely to attract many international students (though we do think based on conversations we have already held that it is likely to be attractive to students from local markets, for example, a hub in Lithuania would be able to attract students from Ukraine, subject to visa requirements) and these fees should be split between the institutions, on a ratio to be agreed between the partners and based on the involvement and investment made by the local partner.

We believe that the host university could also use this model as part of a CPD offering they could make to local corporate clients (if individual modules etc. could be delivered).

Many potential local partner universities have suggested they would like to speak to their UK partner about creating an articulation route from their UG programmes to the blended learning Masters programmes, allowing them to keep the students on campus.


We believe this model has many advantages for both partners.  As the UK university retains responsibility for all aspects of the academic delivery through their online provision all QA risks are minimised. In view of the responsibilities of and requirements on the local partner, the process of establishing and approving the partnership will be quicker and less cumbersome than a traditional franchised model.  It allows the UK university to put competitively priced programmes into various markets enabling the university to recruit students whom they could not recruit.  The Micro-Hub will afford the student a campus “student experience” as well as the necessary pastoral support.  The local partner will be able to utilise spare physical capacity and will benefit from an association with the UK partner that could help with its general marketing and student recruitment.

The physical presence as part of the Micro-Hub is an opportunity to promote and UK institution and its offerings.

Next Steps

We would be keen to identify universities interested in exploring this model.  Our role would be to help the UK university identify potential partners in selected markets across Europe, CIS, USA, Canada, South America and Africa.  If you would like to discuss further, please let me know.

Opportunity Summary

As always, we thought you might be interested in seeing a small selection of the opportunities we have shared with clients over the past few months, we have not shared the names of the universities and partners, however if any are of particular interest please let me know.  We would be very happy to talk you through other opportunities that might be of interest, either by market or subject area.

Significant opportunity for franchising of degree programmes in Malta


We are in discussions with a well-established provider of Higher Education in Malta.  The organisation has had a long-standing relationship with a UK university and has achieved reasonable numbers in both business and IT.  For a number of reasons, the relationship has come to an end, and the provider is looking for a new partner who would be interested in franchising both UG and PG courses in Business and Computing to for delivery in Malta.


There would initially be around 250 students, but they would expect that to rise to around 400 over the next couple of years.  The make-up of the student body is currently 60% local and 40% international.

Outstanding opportunity with leading private university in Portugal


The University is one of Portugal’s leading private universities. The university has three campuses, the main campus is in Porto in northern Portugal, with satellite campuses in Ponte De Lima and the Canary Islands.  The university has around 4,500 students, of which 16% are international students, coming from 37 different countries.  The University teaches 19 courses in English across a range of subjects at both UG and PG level.  The fees range from around 3,000 Euros a year to 7,000 Euros depending on subject area.


The university is keen to identify a UK university to work with to develop a number of dual degrees, they are open to various models, but would be keen to look at the in-country delivered model (franchise/validated) and would be keen to look at a number of areas where they are already teaching in English, these include Engineering, Computer Science, Business, Psychology and Health Sciences (Nursing, Pharma, Dentistry and Physio).


It is also worth noting that the university has its own teaching hospital, however it does not deliver medical degree programmes. This is as a result of the Portuguese government requiring them to have a hospital before being allowed to deliver medical degree programmes.  Permission has not yet been given, and as a result they are partnering with a number of existing medical universities in various markets allowing students to do clinical practice (in English).

Opportunity for Partnership with Private Group of Universities in Poland


This Group is a fast-growing group of Private universities, the group operates under two “brands”: The University and The School of Tourism and Hospitality Management.  The group prides itself on its links to business (over 300 partner companies) and employability statistics (one of the top in Poland). There are opportunities to partner for the development of dual degrees, mobility and joint research with both universities.


The group is the most international of all Polish universities, with 50% of their students (8,000) being international from over 80 countries. The group has recently taken over another Polish University and integrated this into The University, giving the group experience of delivering dual degree programmes with UK universities, though they have no partners currently.


The group has invested heavily in the development of an e-learning platform, and there would be scope for utilising the virtual learning environment for the delivery of elements of a dual programme.


Whilst they are keen to explore both franchise/validated models and mobility models the preference is for the former.  They teach a number of both under and post graduate courses in English and would like to develop degrees across a range of areas including Management and Business, Finance and Accounting (ACCA and CFA Accredited), Economics and International Relations, Art/Design, Architecture and Computer Science.


This group is growing quickly and is very open for an academic and commercial partnership.   I believe there could be scope for good numbers.

Experienced Private Operator looking for UK University to partner on creation of Medical School in the Middle East


We have been approached by an experienced private education provider, who already has a number of very successful partnerships with UK universities in various parts of the world.  They are keen to develop a Medical school in the Middle East, where they already have successful operations.   They are looking for a UK university who would be able to partner with them to provide the academic input and credentials.  The private sector partner will be able to invest in the development of infrastructure, the local management and recruitment.


Leading Lithuanian Technical University looking for support in reviewing their Creative Industry activity


This University is one of the largest universities in Lithuania.  The country is currently reorganising its university provision, which is seeing a number of smaller universities close and their faculties merged into larger and stronger institutions.  The University is in the process of taking on a number of new faculties and following a recent external evaluation the university is keen to identify support from the UK to help them review and refocus their study portfolio and research in the Creative Industry area.


The University currently offers provision in multimedia, design, industrial product design and architecture (amongst others) slit across a number of faculties and wants to ensure that the study and research portfolio is focused on current European market demands.


Opportunity for partnership in Engineering and Business with University in Spain


We have an interesting opportunity to initially develop two dual degree programmes, with the scope to grow this relationship to cover more subject areas, and also cover research and mobility.


The Universidad is a public university based in Andalucía, Spain.  The university was founded in 1993 and has since established itself as one of the rising stars of the Spanish system.  It is ranked 801 in the world rankings, and 151 in the young university rankings, and have over 14,000 students.  The University has three faculties, Experimental Sciences, Social Sciences and Law, and Humanities and Education, and three schools, Health Sciences, Social Work and Education, as well as a number of affiliated Advanced Technical Colleges.


The university has a number of dual degree programmes, however none with a UK university and would be keen to initially develop two dual degree programmes, based on two courses they currently deliver in English.  The first is a Masters programme in Telecommunication Engineering and the second an undergraduate programme in Business Administration.  The university wishes to target students from Europe, Africa and Asia with these programmes.

Strategic Partnership (Campus in Campus) Opportunity in Romania

We have an interesting opportunity that would suit a UK university that is interested in establishing a base in the EU, but which does not want to invest in either the creation of a branch campus or the acquisition of university in the EU to use as a base.  The university in question is a small private university (around 800 students) that was originally founded in 2000, and given full university status in 2012, and based on its own campus in a secondary City in Romania.  The University is a not-for-profit institution, and teaches in four primary subject areas, at both undergraduate and postgraduate level including Management, Accounting, Law and Police Studies.  The University is keen to develop the courses it teaches and its appeal to both local and international students, and as a result is looking to develop a strategic partnership with a UK university. The plan would be to allow for the creation of a UK University “Campus within a Campus”.  The UK university could offer their own degrees across a range of subject areas and foundation programmes (year 0) to international students (Romania is well situated for attracting students from a range of CIS and neighbouring countries. Students could then study part or all of their course in Romania or transfer to the UK.

The Local University would be able provide the base for the campus, the administrative support, and access to faculty (who could be on the payroll of the local university), as well the ability to jointly develop research proposals and activity.


TNE and Capacity Building with A University in the Ukraine

This University can trace its roots back to 1576, when it was the first HE institution in the Ukraine.  The Academy in a member of the European Universities Association and is ranked as one the top ten Universities (from a quality and transparency point of view) in Ukraine.  It is small (currently 3,500 students) however has recently seen to completion a major redevelopment of facilities which means its capacity has grown to 6,000 students.

It is keen to develop a TNE and Capacity Building relationship with a UK university.  It would like to focus its TNE activity on its strongest academic area which is Languages.  The Language school currently offers undergraduate and post graduate programmes in English, French, German, Polish, Italian, Spanish, Chinese, Aramaic and Arabic.  It also has schools of Economics, Political Studies, Humanities, Law, and International Relations, and would consider these areas as well with an existing partner.

The University will also be looking for support from the UK partner for leadership, staff and curriculum development (funded through the Ukrainian Ministry of Education).

Partnership with the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Croatia

The Academy of Dramatic Arts was founded in 1950, and is part of this University, an institution of 80,000 students, with 34 faculties, covering 9 fields of study.  In Croatia faculties are all powerful and look after the development of their own strategic international partnerships.  As a result, this opportunity is focused exclusively on this Academy.

The Academy currently has around 400 students and teaches both undergraduate and post graduate programmes in Film, Theatre and Dance.  They are keen to form a partnership with a UK university that will start with the development of mobility and research activity, as well as sending students on summer schools, building to the potential of dual degree activity.

The Academy has experience of working in partnership with UK universities, having research/mobility relationships with Falmouth, Royal School of Speech and Drama, and Leeds University.

 TNE and Capacity Development Opportunity with a University in the Ukraine

This University was founded in 1804 and has the highest QS ranking of any Ukrainian University (480).  It has 20 schools, including schools of Biology, Chemistry, computer science, economy, languages, tourism, mathematics, physics (x4!) business and a medical school.  It has 25,000 students (5,000 international) and attracts students from over 60 countries, with the main markets being Nigeria, India, Zimbabwe, Ghana and the Middle East.

The university has 9 double degree programmes with European universities (France, Spain, Poland and Italy) based on a mobility model, and also has research relationships with both Exeter and Aston University.  They are keen to find a UK partner to develop a range of dual degree programmes aimed at both international and local students based on the delivery of the programme in the Ukraine (but would also look at mobility model) and the development of joint research activities.  They are also keen for the UK partner to be able to offer capacity building support (leadership, staff and curriculum development).

They would like to start with looking at areas where they already teach in English (medical related, IT and Computer Science, Applied Physics and Business) but they would also like to look at other areas once the partnership has been developed.

Franchise and Validation Opportunity with Leading Regional Business School Croatia

This Business School is a leading regional business school, with campuses in Zagreb (Croatia) and Belgrade (Serbia).  The Business School was founded in 2002, and has developed a range of MBA programmes, as well as offering an extensive Executive Education programme.  The School is AMBA accredited and is looking for a quality UK university would be interested in franchising undergraduate business programmes, and in validating their existing MBA provision.

Strategic and Significant Opportunity in Hospitality, Tourism and Business in Luxembourg

We have a unique opportunity for a UK university to develop a strategic partnership with a group of three private universities based in Luxembourg.

The Universities are well established and ranked and specialise in Hospitality, Tourism and Business and are in the process of opening a new joint campus in the town of Wiltz.  The campus is based in a stunning castle (  and provides an exceptional European location for UK universities looking for partnerships of scale post BREXIT.

One of these universities is ranked as one of the top European schools of hospitality management, and all courses are delivered in English, another (business focused) has experience of delivering dual degree programmes with a UK university.  The idea is to have one strategic partner covering all the relevant subject areas, allowing for scale of opportunity.  They are keen to look at both undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

The universities currently recruit all around the globe, with 95% of students being international (70% from EU member states).



Opportunity of a joint venture with established Bulgarian university on the development of a “British University Campus”

The Opportunity: We are aware of a potentially excellent opportunity for a UK university to develop an EU based campus in partnership with a leading private university, minimising the risk associated with this type of project.

The Idea:

To create a British campus in Bulgaria allowing a UK university to target EU students post BREXIT who would like to study in English for a UK Degree, as well as target international students, specifically from the CIS and Turkey where the partner already recruits strongly.  The Partner also has significant research in a number of areas, and significant success in attracting EU money.

The local partner university is ready to create a joint venture, which will have all relevant local licences and permissions (including the ability to access research funding) and support the development of the campus.

The private university has three campuses in Bulgaria, including Sofia (Capital) and Varna (Major costal city) and has capacity it can make available on all three sites.  It also has full degree awarding powers and offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes in a number of areas including Business and Tourism.

The local partner is open for discussions around the type and structure of the joint venture.

Why Bulgaria is a good place to base the campus.

  • The strength and experience of the local partner minimises risk
  • There is existing facilities and student accommodation that can be used
  • Local legislation allows for the campus to offer Dual Degree programmes with the local partner, or other Bulgarian university (depending on subject area), or simply offer the UK degree
  • Bulgaria has a student loan system, allowing a Bulgarian (and EU student) to access a loan to cover the full cost of tuition.
  • There is a track record of local and international students paying a premium for an international degree (the American University charges $11,000 a year)
  • The cost of living in Bulgaria is low, and the weather, and quality of life in main cities is good, making it an attractive destination for international students
  • The quality of education is good, and there is a good availability of high quality local faculty.
  • Bulgaria has a strong track record of attracting international students from the CIS markets and Turkey.



Czech Republic – Large scale franchise degree opportunity

We have an interesting opportunity from the Czech Republic, with a well-established and highly ranked private university (mainly business subjects) with two campuses (Prague and Brno) looking to identify a UK university interested in franchising both undergraduate and postgraduate provision across a range of areas, including Marketing, Media, Digital Media, Communication, Tourism, Phycology and Management in Healthcare.

A recent change in Czech legislation makes it straightforward for a University from the EU to form a partnership with a local University, and for that local University to deliver degree programmes franchised from the EU partner (whilst not issuing a local degree).  There is a current example of this with Prague College (

The partner believes there is a market locally for this provision, as well as an opportunity to target students from Pakistan and India (where they are already recruiting) and believe there would be increased interest post BREXIT.

USA – OnLine module development opportunity

A well-established small to mid-sized award winning university based in central USA focusing on student career development, engineering, computer sciences and liberal arts are reviewing their current online provisions. They are currently considering partnering with an overseas university to jointly develop their online presence and will also consider taking on the licencing for current online provision with adjustments if required.

USA – Apprenticeship Programmes

A Mid-western US states College with 3 campuses is a two-year, fully accredited institution of higher education serving a district population of over 230,000 people, focusing on innovative learning and career development of students both at certificate and undergraduate levels across 70 areas of study with 16 degree courses and 34 certificate programmes.

This college is reviewing their vocational apprenticeship programmes whilst looking at the UK and Germany for partnership, guidance and inspiration.

The apprenticeship market in the US has been asked to review and update their apprenticeship programmes with some funding available for this review. This College is in a position to discuss licensing content for local accreditation.

Myanmar:  Franchise Opportunity

A highly reputable private college in Myanmar, with campuses in Yangon and Mandalay is seeking a UK university business school, with no AACSB or AMBA accreditation, to offer under franchise arrangement Undergraduate and Postgraduate business programmes.


The College’s priority is to offer a 1-year MBA, locally priced at around $5,000 to $6,000 range.  Other programme interests include a BSc (Hons) Architectural Engineering/Technology and BSc Project Management.

MALAYSIA:  Franchise opportunity

This International College was established in 1998 in Kuching in the state of Sarawak, Malaysia. It focuses on programmes in Finance, Accounting, Management, and Entrepreneurship.  The College’s vision is to be ‘A world class education provider that transforms individuals by nurturing, cultivating and instilling wisdom and high awareness’.


The College focuses on professional and entrepreneurial development that ensures students are successful not only in their studies and future careers but also in their daily lives. This focused approach resulted in students graduating with distinctions at all levels.


In line with the entrepreneurial development focus, The College has been instrumental in co-organising the ASEAN-CHINA Entrepreneurs’ (ACE) Conference. This major event provides the platform for the region’s entrepreneurs to explore and gain inroads into various businesses and trade opportunities within the ASEAN countries and China.  The College works very closely with UNIMAS’s University Community Transformation Centre (UCTC) and Sarawak Entrepreneurs’ Association (SEA) to bring this event to Kuching. The conference provide participants the opportunities for strategic business networking, sharing of policies and incentives by relevant authorities and policymakers, and trade forum where companies showcase their products and services.


The College encourages a participative culture amongst its academics, staff and students. This resulted in a consistent exchange of information that contributes to the creation of a conducive and comfortable environment for work and study.


They are looking for pathway to their Diploma in Entrepreneurship to a BA in Business/ Entrepreneurship delivered under franchise arrangement.  They are also keen to expand into degrees in Computing (related to Big Data/ FinTech/ Security).

Private University in lithuania

This University is a private university which operates in Vilnius and Klaipeda (Lithuania). They are looking for a strategic partner. They would be interested to talk to UK universities, who may be interested in opening a branch university in the EU.


For any UK university, which would consider overseas branch/campus, the University and Lithuania advantages are:


  • The University is accredited for a maximum term of 6 years (until 2022) with running study programmes and enrolled students. So UK university could start its activities right after acquiring shares and renaming university. It saves a lot of time and money, if instead going to obtain a new license;
  • Low investment costs;
  • Experienced team in place could ensure quick start of a branch;
  • They are a small university and that means flexible to change and easy to adopt a new culture and rules;
  • Close proximity to education markets, where large number of students are looking for European (UK in particular) education (Belorussia, Russia, Ukraine);
  • Lower costs of running all study related activities;
  • Relatively cheap (salaries of researchers) to establish research centres; possibility to get co-financing from national and EU funds;
  • Ongoing reform in LT education market will reduce number of universities and bring high visibility to private university, even more to university from the UK;
  • UK higher education is highly valued in the local labour market. Many high school graduates are choosing to study in the UK and many more would prefer UK degree, if it would be more affordable, e.g. available in LT;
  • Brexit possibly will deter some of the students from LT who wanted to get UK degree. Alternatively studying in Vilnius could be promising;
  • The University has a state university as a partner, who is willing to form close partnership and provide its campus in Vilnius for joint operations.Campus has a capacity for 2000 -2500 students. Business model in this case could be following:
    • UK university establishes its branch on the basis of acquiring the University (further – UK branch);
    • UK branch goes into joint partnership with the state university:
  • State university gives its campus on an uncompensated use basis (no rent fees, only utilities fees). That does not include dormitories, which could be provided on commercial basis (around 400 places);
  • State university and UK branch agree on double degree programs;
  • UK branch runs both double degree programs and its own programs.

Some of the advantages of a UK branch in Lithuania to students could be:

  • study 3,5 years in Lithuania and get UK university degree (pay less than studying in the UK);
  • spend two years in LT and one in the UK. Experience both countries, pay less, get UK degree;
  • prepare yourself for studies in the UK: get foundation degree in LT and then study in the UK.



Socio-economic environment in Lithuania

Lithuania (Vilnius) offers the same quality of life as other EU countries, but for the lower costs, especially when comparing to the Western Europe. Groceries, rent and other expenses are smaller when comparing with UK, Germany, France or Scandinavia countries.


Vilnius is suitable for foreign students, because of its international environment, vibrant cultural and entertainment scene, well developed public transportation system, easy and cheap connections with the rest of Europe. One-way fare in the city costs around 0,5 Eur; there are different discounts available for students, e-ticket holders etc. Wizzair and Ryanair offer affordable flights connecting Vilnius with major European hubs. Lithuania is a member of Schengen Area, which allows freedom of movement without border control through 26 EU member states.


Vilnius has the biggest concentration of students in Lithuania – around 62 thousand students in state and private universities and colleges including around 5 thousand international students. The number of international students has been rising since 2006. Majority of younger population (<40 years old) in Lithuania is able to communicate in English.