On June 29 of last year, the members of the New York City Council's Land Use Committee gathered at City Hall to consider a local property holder's request for permission to undertake a substantial building project. Meetings of this sort generally produce, in onlookers and often in the participants themselves, a nearly narcotic boredom, but this one was different. The property owner was New York University, and the project at issue was a 20-year program of rolling construction that will radically increase NYU's footprint in Greenwich Village. The chamber was packed with an audience so raucous that the committee frequently had to halt the proceedings to restore order....
Cycling students through the global sites allows NYU to increase its enrollment without having to keep up the expensive New York infrastructure needed to house and support all those extra students.
In Abu Dhabi, the entire project has been bankrolled by the emirate, while most of the other nodes are outposts run on the cheap, with faculties made up of relatively low-paid contract workers, not expensive and sometimes obstreperous tenured professors. The students, however, are still paying full freight. You pay NYU about the same for tuition, room, and board in Ghana as you would in Greenwich Village.
NYU's globalization of education looks a lot like the offshoring of labor and industry in the 1990s....But while the administration is enthusiastically milking the GNU, faculty members remain skeptical of programs run in partnership with authoritarian regimes and with little academic quality control from professors in New York.