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A satellite campus or branch campus or regional campus is a campus of a university or college that is physically at a distance from the original university or college area. This branch campus may be located in a different city, state, or country, and is often smaller than the main campus of an institution. The separate campuses may or may not be under the same accreditation and share resources or they share administrations but maintain separate budgets, resources, and other governing bodies.
In many cases, satellite campuses are intended to serve students who cannot travel far from home for college because of family responsibilities, their jobs, financial limitations, or other factors. The availability of branch campuses may increase higher education enrollment by nontraditional students.
Electronic communications technology has helped to facilitate the operation of satellite campuses. Classes taught at one campus can be transmitted to other locations via distance education, students at branch campuses can access library materials on the main campus electronically, and technology allows institutions to administer registration, admissions, and financial aid transactions remotely.
One growing trend is the establishment of international branch campuses. These are satellite campuses of a parent institution that is located outside the country where the satellite campus is located. The number of international branch campuses worldwide grew from 35 before 1999 to 162 in 2009, including 78 branches operated by United States universities. As of 2009, the United Arab Emirates was the host of 40 international branch campuses, more than any other nation. There were 15 international branch campuses in China, 12 in Singapore, nine in Qatar, and six in Canada. In addition to the United States, the home countries of institutions with international branches included Australia, whose universities operated a total of 14 international branches; the United Kingdom, with 13 international branches; and France and India, each of whose universities had a total of 11 international branches. Although the overall number of international branch campuses has grown rapidly, a total of 11 such campuses closed between 2004 and 2009. A new breed of branch campuses of Indian universities in the Persian Gulf region is emerging which aims to meet South Asians' aspirations to study abroad in a cost-efficient manner.
There are several regional satellite or branch campus consortia but only one national association in the United States. The National Association of Branch Campus Administrators, NABCA seeks to unify higher education officials, working to advance scholarship, provide research opportunities, and facilitate networking events, both online and at a national conference each year.
The Branch campuses of the University of Wisconsin system only offer two-year programs intended to allow students to transfer to the university's main campus or other four-year universities.
In 2008 Michigan State University established a satellite campus in Dubai, offering undergraduate education in five majors plus one master's degree program. The Dubai campus was designed to have the same curriculum and standards for admissions and student work as the university's main campus in Michigan. The university announced in 2010 that it was terminating the undergraduate program in Dubai after just two years due to insufficient enrollment, but would continue to offer a master's degree program in human resources and labor relations in Dubai.
Universities in Nigeria made extensive use of satellite campuses to accommodate growing demand for tertiary education in the latter decades of the 20th century. In 2001, the nation's National University Commission (NUC) directed that most satellite campuses be shut down. The NUC was concerned that the proliferation of satellite campuses was resulting in lower academic standards and was happening primarily for a profit motive and not to provide quality education. Under the new NUC rules, satellite campuses were allowed only within 200 km from the university's main campus and within the same state in which the main campus is located, and their staff were required to be "directly or indirectly appointed by main campus in line with laid down academic standards." In spite of these restrictions, as of 2009 Lagos State University enrolled more than 61,000 students at satellite campuses. The university, which was initially formed with a main campus in Ojo and additional campuses in Epe, Ikeja, and Surulere, also operated external campuses at Anthony Village, Badagry, Ikorodu, Lekki, Festac Town, Ikoyi, Isolo and Agege.
The University of Castile-La Mancha has four main campuses: Albacete, Toledo, Ciudad Real (which includes the university administrative buildings) and Cuenca. There are also two branch campuses in Talavera (associated to Toledo) and Almadén (associated to Ciudad Real). There used to be a non-campus centre in Puertollano, also associated to Ciudad Real, but was closed in 2011.
Churches attempting to expand their reach by offering worship and other programs in new locations may refer to these added locations as "satellite campuses." Some megachurches have increased their number of parishioners and extended their geographic reach by opening new locations that are referred to as "satellite campuses." A satellite church campus may use video technology to connect to the church's main location.